Review: Abhorsen by Garth Nix

Reading this trilogy is like riding a roller coaster. Sabriel is just like when you reach the end of the line and climb into the car, flush with excitement. Lirael is like the slow ascent to the highest part of the coaster. Finally, Abhorsen is the swift plummet to the bottom and the slow coming to a halt, when you feel glad that it’s over, but at the same time, sad, because it’s over.

Actually, I’m not much of a roller coaster person, but I feel this comparison is apt.


It is, naturally, difficult to talk about Abhorsen without spoiling its predecessors so this is going to be a short review. Lirael ended on a bit of a cliffhanger and with a lot of unanswered questions. As with the last book, Abhorsen’s story is told from multiple perspectives: mostly from Lirael, Sameth, and Nicholas’ point of view, but there are a few surprises. Once again, they are accompanied by their animal companions, the surly Mogget and the loyal (but disreputable) Disreputable Dog. The characters have come into their own and are ready to take on the world–provided they can stop the complete destruction of the world first. No pressure or anything.

I love these characters, Mogget and the Disreputable Dog are hilarious. Sam and Lirael try and try and fail and try again. There isn’t a single character I can say I definitively dislike (well, maybe the villains, because they’re assholes). After the endless teen drama of many of the YA books I’ve been reading these days, it’s refreshing to read something where the characters are a bit more subdued in comparison. It’s not that I don’t enjoy teen drama, I was a teenager once and I was convinced my life was very dramatic, but this series was a nice break. Also the book made me cry. This is the second time the series has made me cry. Stop it, Old Kingdom series, stop that right now.

The books may have been published a decade ago, but they tackle issues that are still very relevant today: grief and loss, terrorism, nationalism, immigration. I don’t feel as if Nix hits you over the head with them, but they are definitely present within the narrative. Seriously, why isn’t this series being adapted for film? They are leagues ahead of bullshit like The School for Good and Evil. Why, Hollywood? Why?

Anyways, I think my only criticism is that the second part is a bit slow to get going. What doesn’t help is that certain characters are MIA for a good chunk of the book, and their absence is definitely felt. It felt a bit like when Daemon was absent in Heir to the Shadows by Anne Bishop (personally, I found Daemon annoying, but somehow his absence didn’t make the book any better).

I can’t remember anything particularly triggery, just the usual violence and the whole idea of the Greater and Lesser Dead in general. There is a scene at the very beginning of the book depicting a bombing. Once again, there isn’t a whole lot of diversity, although the Clayr are still very much present.

Overall, this is a fitting end to the original trilogy and I can’t wait to read Clariel and Goldenhand. If you haven’t read the Old Kingdom books by now, I encourage you to pick them up. They are fantastic and I nice break from the YA books I’ve been reading lately. Seriously, these are good, go and read them!


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