Lirael by Garth Nix – Re-Read Challenge 2016 Post # 2

When I First Read Lirael (Spoiler Alert)

“Lirael” is a much longer novel compared to “Sabriel” and “Abhorsen,” the two other books in the Old Kingdom Trilogy by Garth Nix. I remember buying the second and third books of the trilogy immediately after reading “Sabriel.”

Thank goodness I did because I would have been incredibly pissed if I had to wait long in between reading “Lirael” and Abhorsen.” At the time, I remember feeling let down because the second book ended with such an unsatisfying cliffhanger.

In a sense the last two books could have been combined into one, with “Abhorsen” being the climax of the whole novel. However, the resulting novel would have been over 1,000 pages long. Perhaps a bit too long for Nix’s young adult readership.

What I Remember of Lirael

Other than the feeling of being let down after reading the novel, I remembered hardly anything else. I couldn’t even remember who Lirael was, other than her being the lady depicted on the book’s cover. I actually thought she was the daughter of Sabriel and Touchstone.

Why I Wanted to Re-Read Lirael

My more than a decade old copy of Lirael, which I re-read while enjoying a cup of Starbucks Coffee Frappuccino.

I remember the Abhorsen trilogy being one of my favorite fantasy book series of all time. Even though I remember not liking “Lirael” as much as the other two novels, it is still part of the trilogy, and essential to appreciating the trilogy as a whole.

I was also curious to see if I would have a different reading of the novel since it has been a while since I last read it. Time and life experiences are great changers when it comes to my opinion of novels when I re-read them. I particularly enjoy re-reading my favorite novels from one year to the next because I always get something new from them with each reading.

How I Felt After Re-Reading Lirael

“Choosers will be beggars if the begging’s not their choosing.”
― Garth Nix, Lirael

I definitely felt the pang of anger at being let down by an unexpected cliffhanger after an incredibly long build-up. However, I have a much better appreciation for why the book ended in this manner. “Lirael” was never about good triumphing over evil in the end. It was really about Lirael (and also Sam’s) discovering who they really are.

“Does the walker choose the path, or the path the walker?” Lirael wanted to belong among her sisters of the Clayr so badly, that she almost committed suicide when she didn’t receive the gift of the vision. Sam was so afraid of facing the necromancer in death that he couldn’t even bare to look at the Book of the Dead, his birthright as the abhorsen-in-training.

It turns out that Lirael is the actual abhorsen-in-training, while Sam can settle for being the brave and powerful charter mage he already is. Sam ends up avoiding the path he was born to, but would have killed him had he been forced into it. Lirael is given the gift of a responsibility and purpose in life greater than the one she really wanted as a sister of the Clayr.

Lirael’s and Sam’s stories are already great in themselves. The confrontation between good and evil can wait.


Sabriel by Garth Nix – Re-Read Challenge 2016 Post # 1

When I First Read Sabriel

Here are some fun facts about Garth Nix from Epic Reads.

I don’t remember exactly when I first read “Sabriel” by Garth Nix, but I believe it was during my high school years, over a decade and a half ago. I only started reading books for fun during first my freshman year of high school, so I was pretty new to reading back them. I was still discovering the things I liked and didn’t like to read.

I was drawn to this book because it had a female protagonist. I was also curious about the heroine’s using bells in battle against her foes. I thought it was a unique concept, and still think it’s  novel a novel idea today.

What I Remember of Sabriel

“Does the walker choose the path, or the path the walker?” – Garth Nix, Sabriel

I remember the bells and how Sabriel used them to enter the realm of the dead. I recall how each bell had a different effect when rung. I also remember Mogget transforming into a white glowing creature I always imagined looking like an archon from the StarCraft video game series. Mogget is awesome.

Why I Wanted to Re-Read Sabriel

Sabriel Collage
Here is a photo collage of my very precious copy of Sabriel.

I really enjoyed reading “Sabriel” the first time, and then re-reading it several times after that. I’ve actually read the whole Old Kingdom trilogy a couple of times already. Garth Nix’s novel is simple and easy to read. The romance wasn’t very central to the story, and I enjoyed that a lot. The focus was actually on saving people.

I also liked the magic system in this book. The use of Charter Magic and the bells. The different gates one passes through on the way to death. It was all very interesting without ever being complicated.

How I Felt After Re-Reading Sabriel

If you can spare an hour, here is a more comprehensive podcast interview with Garth Nix by Geek’s Guide to the Galaxy.

Re-reading “Sabriel” was like catching up with an old friend. I still have the original copy of the novel I bought around 15 years ago. The pages are all yellowish and crumbling in places. When I was a child, I always wondered how long it took for books to get that crumbly.

When I was a teenager, I was even more confused because I noticed my mother’s copies of “Bridget Jones’s Diary” and “The Notebook” getting all crumbly, but I didn’t think the books were that old. After all, weren’t the movies just coming out back then?

Anyway, the “Sabriel” didn’t lose any of its magic over the  years. It’s a timeless classic for me, and I hope that many more young adults get to read it like I did.

This post was written for Belle of the Literati’s Re-Read Challenge 2016. You can also read more about why I joined the 2016 Re-Read Challenge.