“Does the walker choose the path?” Well, I chose this one and I’m pretty sure that I regret it. This is the first time I’ve pushed through a series I really didn’t care for except in fits and starts. I’m bad about putting down books I don’t particularly care for, but I usually don’t go for the sequels of something that I had to push through. Anyway, let’s dig deeper.
Garth Nix is an Australian author. He studied literature at University and then worked in the publishing industry before writing Sabriel. He claims inspiration from classical fantasy as well as Middle Eastern and Asian mysticism. And despite my overall dislike of this series it is a nice blend of those traditions as I understand them. He lives in Sydney with his wife and two sons.
This is five books, the first three a pretty solid trilogy, with a prequel and then a sequel following. The initial trilogy actually reminds me a lot of Dune, telling the story of Sabriel and Prince Touchstone, an epic story in it’s own right, that leads to a huge shift in status quo for the world, the restoration of a great royal house, and a return to magic, (in Dune the restoration of an imperial house and a return to tech.) followed by two stories of what that means for their children and the next generation, which is what Lirael and Abhorsen deal with, Sabriel finding her new true apprentice and reaching a detante with the forces of “Free Magic.” Then we get Clariel which tells a largely free standing story about The Old Kingdom before the fall of the royal house, until we learn who it’s lead becomes. Goldenhand wraps a few things up but does end on a cliff hanger and apparently a sixth book is coming next year.
I will not be reading it.
I think legacy is a big theme here, it’s what I seize on the most. Which, again, it’s so weird that I didn’t like this series much. I love legacy as a theme, the curses and mistakes and triumphs of the past irepparably damaging the future. But it’s all in the execution, Nix’s characters don’t feel like they’re moving in the tides of destiny as so many heroes in these types of stories are, they feel bound by them and not in a fun, I’m gonna subvert that expectation way, just in a resigned shrug their shoulders way. It makes for dull reading.
Also the magic system is practically impenetrable and I was bored every time something got explained. I think I just don’t care for Nix’s writing.
I liked Lirael best because I liked Lirael best. She seemed do be the only character who was active, who wanted something different than what life was giving her. She eventually swam with the tide, but she at least fought it and swam, didn’t let herself be carried.
Least Favorite Book
Clariel is a real slog. I don’t care how important Chlorr Of The Mask is to Lirael’s development, this book was not fun. Even though it has a DRAGON and a MAGIC SCHOOL and COURT POLITICS all tings that I usually love.
You’d like Lirael after what I said above, but it’s actually Mogget, a free magic creature bound in the form of a cat who serves the Abhorsens. He rules, he’s surly, sarcastic, annoyed and bent on revenge on the family that bound him, even though he likes them well enough individually. I like cat guides, which is odd, since in life I’m much more of a dog person. But I liked Mogget, he felt in tradition with Faithful from The Song Of The Lioness and Luna and Artemis from Sailor Moon.
I’m not rereading this, I had so much trouble getting into it.
The next Series Series will be on The Space Trilogy by C.S. Lewis, but there’s some stuff in between. (I’m rereading PS I Still Love You and doing an “In The Shadow Of Adaptation” as well as one for Jane Austen’s Emma.)