GAH!! Let me take a breath first.
Okay, let’s start.
As promised, I am giving you my review on the second part of Garth Nix’s trilogy, Lirael. You can read my review on the first part here Sabriel Review.
Lirael is a Clayr child who is a bit different from the other Clayr for the Sight that usually comes around when they’re adolescent hasn’t come yet for her. And not only that she can’t See, she also can’t be Seen. When the Sight still hasn’t showed on her fourteenth birthday, Lirael decides that she’s been waiting far too long and she’s not sure that she can bear the burden becoming an adult Clayr without Sight.
Feeling completely hopeless, Lirael then weighs the idea of committing suicide as an alternative. Fatefully, the Clayr twin are there to halt Lirael from her ludicrous plan, and put her to work instead in the Great Library.
This is the time where all Clayr with Sight are occupied by a massive endeavor to See an Unseen darkness near Red Lake. Though to Lirael, this is a constant reminder that she is a persona non grata in Glacier. Hence, Lirael prefers to keep herself busy with many ancient secrets buried in the Library’s shadowy corners. Somewhere along the dimness, Lirael picks up a soon-to-be best friend as well as partner in crime, the Disreputable Dog.
When the Sight eventually affects her course of life, Lirael is Seen together with an unknown man near the Red Lake where the Clayr have been struggling and failing to See what’s happening in. Naturally, the Clayr dispatch Lirael to take off immediately and find out who’s the man as well as the rest of the Unseen.
Lirael and the Dog has just started their journey when both cross path with Prince Sameth who’s been running away from his Abhorsen-in-Waiting destiny and Mogget. And before long, they figure out that they’ve been going to the same place, trying to save the same man. It’s just something feels out of place still. So they drop by the Abhorsen House to plan a bit, when despite their initial understanding, they’re told that Lirael is the Abhorsen-in-Waiting and not Sam instead. The bell-bandolier and the Book of the Dead that Sam’d thought he had to learn to use are actually only in his hands to be delivered to Lirael. So now one of them is relieved, while the other is in a life-changing situation.
Before I say anything, let me apologize for my lack of thoughts while reviewing the first book of this series. I should have at least mentioned that the first book of this series was published in 1995. Therefore, there surely is disparity in storytelling style between 1995 and 2019 but I failed to mention that.
So there’s that.
Now, I honestly was slightly thrown off when the story revealed that Lirael was our main heroine, and not Sabriel. It made me somewhat confused as to what’s the first book’s purpose. But I figured that the first book was simply an introduction written in a dissimilar style from the contemporaries. There were too many important events fit in a book, which made the first book felt slow and rushed at the same time. Slow as in descriptive-slow, and rushed as in the ending has to be in the same copy-haste. Again, maybe that was a 1995-thing, I don’t know. One thing for sure is that, there was no way to establish the universe elements and rules without the first book.
The second part skipped any introduction altogether, but it wasn’t about a world-changing conflict yet. Rather, it’s about the calm before the storm.
In this next piece of the set, there’s not so much of narrative movement since growth of the lead characters was the only thing that mattered. I was enjoying the up-close ride of what shaped the character’s mind, what pumped up her bravery, and what shifted her emotional state in details. It was fascinating that even every small part gave a fraction to the heroine’s final identity. When you had a whole book to show how a heroine from zero becoming a hero, the transformation felt complete.
Sometimes, when there are too many players to perform, a show can either become hectic and cluttered, or ornate and well-orchestrated. Luckily, this book was the latter case. There were four personas, two leads, two main supports in this book, which were many. And they all had as strong characters and backstories. So it was a good thing that the story played its components very harmoniously. Each role participated on different scale but of the same importance to the tale.
All that, entwined with effortless flow has made the book such a superior novel.
I think that’s about all I had to say. But before I say goodbye, just a tiny diminutive issue.
Why was the King’s name Touchstone? Didn’t he have a real name? How could his people respect him with that silly name? If someone has an answer, would you please kindly help me here?
And, that’s really it! Goodbye for today, and see you next weekend on Abhorsen review.