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Abhorsen #3


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The Ninth was strong and fought with might
But lone Orannis was put out of the light
Broken in two and buried under hill
Forever to lie there, wishing us ill.

So says the song. But Orannis, the Destroyer, is no longer buried under hill. It has been freed from its subterranean prison and now seeks to escape the silver hemispheres, the final barrier to the unleashing of its terrible powers.

Only Lirael, newly come into her inheritance as the Abhorsen-in-Waiting, has any chance of stopping the Destroyer. She and her companions -- Sam, the Disreputable Dog, and Mogget -- have to take that chance. For the Destroyer is the enemy of all Life, and it must be stopped, though Lirael does not know how.

To make matters worse, Sam's best friend, Nick, is helping the Destroyer, as are the necromancer Hedge and the Greater Dead Chlorr, and there has been no word from the Abhorsen Sabriel or King Touchstone.

Everything depends upon Lirael. A heavy, perhaps even impossible burden for a young woman who just days ago was merely a Second Assistant Librarian. With only a vision from the Clayr to guide her, and the rather mixed help of her companions, Lirael must search in both Life and Death for some means to defeat the Destroyer.

Before it is too late. . . .

358 pages, Hardcover

First published January 1, 2003

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About the author

Garth Nix

268 books13.6k followers
Garth Nix was born in 1963 in Melbourne, Australia, to the sound of the Salvation Army band outside playing 'Hail the Conquering Hero Comes' or possibly 'Roll Out the Barrel'. Garth left Melbourne at an early age for Canberra (the federal capital) and stayed there till he was nineteen, when he left to drive around the UK in a beat-up Austin with a boot full of books and a Silver-Reed typewriter.

Despite a wheel literally falling off the Austin, Garth survived to return to Australia and study at the University of Canberra. After finishing his degree in 1986 he worked in a bookshop, then as a book publicist, a publisher's sales representative, and editor. Along the way he was also a part-time soldier in the Australian Army Reserve, serving in an Assault Pioneer platoon for four years. Garth left publishing to work as a public relations and marketing consultant from 1994-1997, till he became a full-time writer in 1998. He did that for a year before joining Curtis Brown Australia as a part-time literary agent in 1999. In January 2002 Garth went back to dedicated writer again, despite his belief that full-time writing explains the strange behaviour of many authors.

He now lives in Sydney with his wife, two sons and lots of books.

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5 stars
60,505 (49%)
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Displaying 1 - 30 of 2,838 reviews
Profile Image for Jessica.
150 reviews51 followers
February 7, 2011

Can I just say how shocked I am by how good this book was? I mean, I guess everything that happened in Lirael was necessary in setting the stage for Abhorsen, but man did Lirael put a damper on the Old Kingdom high I got from Sabriel. In book 2, Lirael was mopey, annoying, and the Mary-Sue from Hell. Sam was pretty angsty, too, and the book felt entirely like exposition with no real pay off at the end (with a long ways to go). Needless to say, I approached Abhorsen with distrust and apprehension, prepping myself for a letdown.

AND WHAT IS THIS? LIRAEL UP IN HERE WITH A DECENT PERSONALITY AND ACTUAL CHARACTER GROWTH? SAM COMING OF AGE AND SHAPING UP LIKE A BOSS? MOGGET AND DOG REMAINING THEIR FLY SELVES AS THEY FACE THE CRAZIEST PLOT EVER? Alright, my capslock!Harry moment has passed. And I might have exaggerated a smidge, but seriously. This book was pretty epic. Dare I say, more epic than Sabriel? (Come on! The last third of the book I kept saying, “Whatever are they going to make it out of this!” or “As if someone ain’t gonna die right now!” and “There’s no way! NO WAY!”—and the first two-thirds of the book I had already been on the edge of my seat!).

Now, I’d like to address something that I haven’t really mentioned in my previous reviews of the series. Most noticeably in books 1 and 3, there are really great and subtle messages sent about the gender stereotypes we’ve picked up in our lifetimes. Plenty of my favorite action heroines (be it movies or books) have to inevitably come up against some douche who refuses to answer to a girl of all things (or remember that awesome scene in RotK when Eowyn’s like, “I am no man! You look upon a woman!” and the audience goes crazy and everyone’s fist-pumping?). But, like, the story can be set 200 years in the future, in space, and some jerk acts like it’s the craziest thing in the world to see a woman save the day. That sucks, no doubt, but almost worse is when the story is set in an alternate freaking reality (usually fantasy with magic and dragons and crap), and people are still shamelessly sexist. Like, really, screenwriter/author? It made sense to you to make this completely fictional world hate women, too? But wizards live forever and stuff, right?

In the Abhorsen trilogy, the roles of men and women are pretty evenly distributed between the sexes. There are both male and female royal guards and it ain’t no big thang, some tribes have matriarchs and others patriarchs, and the people of the Old Kingdom answer to the female Abhorsen and the King with equal loyalty and reverence. I mean, that just makes sense to me. If magic has existed in a world since the beginning of time, than freaking equal rights should have as well.

Anywho, all-in-all, a fantastic book. It somehow successfully made me love Lirael after raging against her so much before, it totally does justice to anything left wanting regarding the mythos of the world in Sabriel (you get to see all of the nine gates of Death, so awesome!), and it kind of outdoes the final battle scene of Sabriel as well…a great conclusion! (Although I wouldn���t say no to another book in the series…)
Profile Image for Charlotte May.
696 reviews1,074 followers
February 16, 2018
4.5 stars!
This series just keeps getting better!

We find Lirael and Sam immediately after book 2, on the hunt for Sam’s friend Nick and the evil he has accidentally gotten himself trapped in. Along with the Disreputable Dog and Mogget the cat we are taken on a fantastic ride through a world where the dead don’t stay dead!

“Confused Dead Hands staggered out of her way, gobbling their distress from their decayed throats.”

Nix has created such an incredible magic system; with both Charter Magic - the fixed and governed magic but also Free Magic - the powerful and uncontrolled magic often used for evil. We even get to visit death - with its nine gates and mysterious allure.

A power known as The Destroyer is rising, to destroy the Charter and create a world of fire where the dead rule.

“There would be plenty of bodies for all.”

It takes everything in Lirael’s power to use the bells of the Abhorsen and save both Ancelstierre and The Old Kingdom.

“With sighs and groans and gurgles and the clicking of frozen joints and broken bones, the Dead Hands marched forward, sending the fog swirling all around them.”

I was gripped from start to finish, there are constant shocks throughout and I had to see what would happen, even shed a few tears at times. I need the next book now!

“For everyone and everything, there is a time to die. Some do not know it, or would delay it, but it’s truth cannot be denied.”
Profile Image for TS Chan.
700 reviews868 followers
February 26, 2018
Abhorsen is a great conclusion to a narrative arc which started with Lirael, the second book in the series.

The two main characters introduced in the previous book, Lirael and Prince Sameth, have now accepted their respective legacies and fate in what is to become a fight for the survival of the very world itself. Finally, we have a lot more action, a lot less moping and some solid character growth with two young protagonists, both who have vast potential stemming from their unique bloodlines. There is also a third point-of-view which surfaced more regularly in this volume - Nicholas, a friend of the Prince from beyond the Wall to the south, who has fallen into the hands of the enemy and was manipulated in bringing forth ancient powers. Braving the overwhelming odds stacked against them, Lirael and Sam, together with the Disreputable Dog and Mogget, have to attempt to stop the enemy from manifesting. Else, all will be lost.

As I have mentioned before, the key strength of this series lies in its worldbuilding - a world between Life and Death - and its magic - of the wild and free, and the constructs which aimed to give such magic structure and direction, with which it can also bind and break. The narrative around these fantastical elements progressed through the series with more revelations on the lore surrounding the history of Charter magic, and deeper exploration through Death and its Nine Gates.

Given that this third volume serves as the final and climactic act to the story which began in the second, I will not deign to include further commentary on the plot. Even though I struggled a bit with the characters of Lirael and Sam initially, the development of their roles eventually made sense within the context of what they are becoming. In the face of the imminent and overwhelming threat to the world, both not only managed to overcome their angst but each drew upon their respective strengths as nothing but their best will suffice. The tone of the book is engaging throughout, and the narrative grabbed me right from the start.

Even though I have not read much of the YA genre, I can safely say that this is probably one of the better ones out there. There is enough depth in the storytelling and characterization, which without the corresponding ages of the main protagonists, one can easily mistake it for just another classic fantasy novel. And I'll say this again - the world and its magic are positively fascinating. I do recommend this series to those who want to read a classic fantasy with a difference.

This review can also be found at Booknest
Profile Image for Dannii Elle.
2,034 reviews1,421 followers
May 1, 2020
This is the third instalment in the Abhorsen series.

Decades divided the events between the first and second books, but this one followed directly on from the former instalment. Lirael is the abhorsen-in-waiting, Sam is descended from Wall Makers, and their animal companions, who are less easy to classify, make up the rest of the fearsome foursome intent on saving the kingdom from the dark designs of the dead. Action dominated but tears marked the end and I was not okay!
Profile Image for Ahmad Sharabiani.
9,566 reviews56.6k followers
January 31, 2018
Abhorsen (Abhorsen #3), Garth Nix
Abhorsen is a fantasy novel by Australian writer Garth Nix, first published in 2003. It is the third book in the Old Kingdom series (following Sabriel and Lirael).
تاریخ نخستین خوانش: بیست و دوم ماه اکتبر سال 2009 میلادی
عنوان: ابهورسن - کتاب سوم از سه گانه ی گارت نیکس با عنوان: پادشاهی کهن؛ نویسنده: گارت نیکس؛ مترجم: پریا آریا (پریا تجلی پور)؛ تهران، وسعت، 1387، در 400 ص، شابک: 9786005142167؛
مترجم: شهلا انتظاریان؛ تهران، افق، 1391، در 456 ص، شابک: 9789643698270؛
مترجم: پیمان اسماعیلیان؛ تهران، قدیانی، 1393، در 560 ص، شابک: 9789645369758؛
در کتاب‌های پیشین سابریل و لیرایل خواندیم که قلمروی پادشاهی کهن ابهورسن‌ها درگیر نزاعی همیشگی و پایان‌ناپذیر با ساحران جادوی آزاد است. سابریل با کمک تاچ‌ استون، کریگور را شکست داده و دنیا را نجات می‌دهد. لیرایل دختری از کلیرها، که از داشتن بینایی (دیدن آینده) محروم است دست‌مایه کتاب دوم بود و سرانجام فهمیدم که ایشان خواهر ناتنی سابریل است. در این بین ساحری به نام هج سعی دارد تا قدرتی اهریمنی را آزاد کند. قدرتی که نابودگر است... ابهورسن کتاب سوم این مجموعه که به شرح نبرد دو ابهورسن (سابریل و لیرایل) و سایر عناصر تشکیل‌ دهنده جادوی کارتر با هج و اورانیس می‌پردازد. در این کتاب عاقبت خواهیم دانست که نه عنصر اولیه چه بودند و چه کردند و تلاش ابهورسن‌ها، سمث، تاچ استون، کلیرها، سگ سیاه‌رو و البته ماگت په سرانجامی خواهند داشت. ا. شربیانی
Profile Image for Stephen.
1,516 reviews11k followers
January 6, 2011
4.5 to 5.0 stars. Having just finished this, the final book in the Abhorsen Trilogy, I have to say that it RANKS AMONG THE BEST YA FANTASY SERIES I have ever read. The world created by Garth Nix composed of the Northern Old Kingdon (where magic exists) sitting side by side with the South (looking much like an early 20th century city in Europe) is so realistically portrayed that the whole story comes to life. The interplay between these two realms is very well done.

Add to that one of the most interesting and original magic systems I have yet come across featuring among other things, free magic (wild and unbound) and charter magic (bound magic expressed through runes or marks), Abhorsens vs necromancers, lesser and greater dead, gore crows, the Great Charters and some amazingly unique free magic creatures and entities. All of these elements are woven together and used so well in the story that narrative always stays compelling and keeps the reader engrossed in the story.

This will certainly me on the short list of YA fantasy series that I recommend to friends. HIGHEST POSSIBLE RECOMMENDATION!!!
Profile Image for Katie.dorny.
980 reviews500 followers
May 20, 2020
I honestly just found this anti-climatic. Especially when compared to the first two.The conclusion just continues on for the spin off books; which I do understand.

Sam’s growth in this was wonderful; I hated him in the second book but in this one I really rooted for him.

I am interested in reading Goldenhand to find out what happens to Lirael and Nicolas.

I just felt that this book and the previous one could have been shortened down to one big book instead of being dragged out over two when some of the plot and description was unnecessary.
Profile Image for ✨faith✨trust✨pixiedust✨.
398 reviews363 followers
April 18, 2019
"Wherever you walk, I will be there."


This third installment, the end of the main trilogy, was pretty darn good. There's something about Garth Nix's writing that just really does it for me. The subtle humor and wit, the syntax and sentence structure. It's all just so great. I love everything about it!

The world is the best fantasy world ever, in my not so humble opinion. It isn't overbearing, but it's intricate and unique and dark without being grimdark. Death is probably the coolest setting in any book ever, and you can fight me on that.

I loved the character arcs in this, especially Nick's. He didn't have much of a character in the previous book, but he really shone in this one, and his ending was just...*cries a little more* just perfect. I love how relatable all the characters are. I wish Sam had had a bit more to do in this, but as it is, I'm happy with how it all turned out.

"So I'll do that, and I'll do my best and if my best isn't good enough, at least I will have done everything I could, everything that is in me. I don't have to try to be someone else, someone I could never be."
Profile Image for Ashley.
2,658 reviews1,692 followers
February 10, 2017
I think probably the best way to describe what it's like to read the Abhorsen trilogy is to compare it to a snowball rolling down a very, very large hill. We are all familiar with this metaphor--it basically implies that the thing being compared metaphorically moves faster and becomes MORE on the way down, whether that thing is the plot or your emotions as a reader, or both. Abhorsen is like this, but also THE SNOWBALL IS ON FIRE.

Sabriel introduced the world, the characters (most of them), the magic system, and the stakes. Lirael upped the ante, widening the scope of the world, but also deepening it, and ended with the characters facing the biggest challenge of their lives so far. Abhorsen is almost in its entirety devoted to confronting that challenge, like the whole book is the climax of the series, but it also has its own climax that is even more intense than the rest of the book. And the rest of the book is like a giant rollercoaster ride of emotion and action and scary stuff trying to kill you.

But also, remember the snowball? IT'S STILL ON FIRE.

I'm not going to say much about the plot of this book except in the vaguest terms. Firstly, that I thought it was a very fitting conclusion to the story built up in the first two books. Secondly, that the ending brought me to tears in a Starbucks. I did not anticipate this happening. I'd read it twice before, admittedly as a teenager, so I thought I knew what I was getting into. I didn't expect to me moved quite so much, particularly on the subject of death. And lastly, I understand why Nix does what he does with the Disreputable Dog, who I think I've made clear is my favorite character, but that doesn't mean I have to be happy about it.

My only real complaint is that there wasn't enough of a coda to the events of the series. We only get the smallest inkling of the fates that befall these characters, although I suppose it is rather easy to guess. This is why I was so excited to learn he'd written a novella that takes place after the events in these books and that I'd somehow missed. It doesn't take place in the Old Kingdom, but we do get to check in with a couple of the characters. It filled a need. But also, I have more need. I'm very excited for Clariel in a couple of months, but seeing as how that's a prequel . . . look, Garth Nix. What I'm saying is I want more stories in this world.

Give them to me.

Give them to me now.

[4.5 stars]
Profile Image for [ J o ].
1,938 reviews428 followers
March 4, 2019
I first read these when I was much younger, probably just a few years after they were published. I must confess, before I started them I could barely recall them at all, aside from a few episodes from the first book, Sabriel. I had hastily added 3 or 4 stars to them when I transferred them to GoodReads, so they must have had a lasting impression on me for me to do that.

Second re-through and I could see a little why I liked them, but they weren't the kind of thing I would love to read nowadays. I have thought about this a lot recently and I think my taste in almost all aspects of my life have changed dramatically since I was younger, so much that, although I absolutely adore Terry Pratchett's Discworld series and would probably count it as my favourite ever, I can remember being younger and not liking it at all.

Sabriel was my favourite out of the three. Although it was much shorter, and barely had any plot or character development, it read like a short story and was enjoyable. Lirael and Abhorsen were much the same, though somehow longer. Garth Nix's other series, like the The Keys to the Kingdom are more Young Adult orientated and are far better, probably because he had a bit of practise beforehand.

To me, the Abhorsen Trilogy, unlike quite a few other children's books, are written very much with children in mind and I wouldn't consider calling them Young Adult. Whilst there is nothing wrong with that, I personally didn't enjoy them as much as I had when a child myself.

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Profile Image for Heather Turner.
86 reviews8 followers
April 3, 2007
As in "Sabriel" and "Lirael," Death is a riverine chasm from which the dead can be called back to the living by powerful necromancers. Only the Abhorsen (Sabriel) or the Abhorsen-in-waiting (Lirael) can pass from life into the river of Death, through the eight Gates of fog, whirlpools, waterfalls, and shadow, and do magical combat with the necromancers in their own dark realm...

Well, the Disreputable Dog can splash into Death, too and in "Abhorsen" you'll find out who she really is, along with Mogget the bad-tempered cat (who reminds me of some of the grouchier Jack Lemon characters).

"Abhorsen" is a worthy conclusion to Nix's Old Kingdom trilogy. Read "Sabriel" and "Lirael" before undertaking "Abhorsen," so that you can familiarize yourself with the Philosophy and Geography of Death. Nix isn't into summarization or repetition. He plunges his reader right into a whirlpool of death, animated corpses, and Charter magic. If you don't already know such characters as the Disreputable Dog, the necromancer Hedge, or his bone-headed companion, Nick, you might never figure out what's going on.

This book is a direct continuation of "Lirael," with the ex-assistant librarian and her companion, Prince Sameth carrying on the battle against Hedge and the evil he is digging up at Red Lake. Although Prince Sameth was meant to be the Abhorsen-in-Waiting, heir to the powers of 'The Book of the Dead' and the seven bells, Lirael now takes up that role, and Sam seeks his destiny as a descendant of the mysterious Wallmakers, who built the barrier between the magical Old Kingdom and the mundane kingdom of Ancelstierre. The two will need all of the magic they can conjure up against an enemy that threatens not only the Charter, but all living beings.

The swirl and cross-currents of life gradually ebb as the dead pass through gate after gate on Garth Nix's nameless river--a river like Styx or Lethe that runs through each of our subconscious underworlds as a legacy of our water-bound gestation. It is an eerie experience to remember that journey of birth--only this time in the wake of the dead--in this marvelous fantasy trilogy.
Profile Image for Krissa.
94 reviews36 followers
September 10, 2007
So everything I held against Book Two, Lirael, was released in Abhorsen. The book races, literally and figuratively - I read it in a day. The climax is beautiful, BEAUTIFUL, with all the characters you love and hate from all three books playing their part with some powerful punches. It also drags torturously through some characters' descents into madness which is, well, maddeningly written, curse Nix and his talent.

I adored this trilogy and wish people would stop resisting me forcing it upon them just because, you know, it's about necromancers and bells. Please! It's awesome.
Profile Image for Claudia.
319 reviews84 followers
June 16, 2022
The thrilling conclusion to an amazing not-quite-a-trilogy-anymore trilogy. My only problem with the story was always that it felt like some things were unresolved but the fact that the series continues fixes that. I absolutely loved rereading this as an adult and picked up a lot more themes and context that I think I missed when I was a young reader.

In Abhorsen, we follow our main characters from the last book Lireal and Sameth as they face off against a huge and deadly enemy.

While Lirael had a ton of set up this novel is basically the reward for all that exposition and character building. We have tons of action, Sameth getting character growth (thank god) and an absolutely wonderful ending that made me cry despite not being that sad and me knowing the outcome.

I also might just cry at the wonderful friendship between Disreputable Dog and Lirael. Its so beautiful to see how she has grown in confidence with her dog at her side and while on an adventure she was always meant to find. I loved this journey for her and her growth.

Mogget was always a favorite character and I loved his journey here too. Just so many great stories and characters all interwoven so wonderfully.

Just read this trilogy (and more).
Profile Image for Jillian.
484 reviews18 followers
November 6, 2007
So now that I'm done with the trilogy I'll say that it was Great. I read the last book so fast, I think I read it in two days? Maybe three. Anyways, the climax is good (and not painfully predictable like book 2) and the characters are developed so well by the end that I was just sucked in. My face even scrunched up at the end when one character... you know. It always happens to someone. The fact that I even thought about crying is quite a feat for an author, since I pride myself on stoicism when it comes to things like books and movies.

So if you like fantasy books with maps and journeys and prophecies and magic and WOO necromancers! then read this series.
Profile Image for Erik Fazekas.
479 reviews196 followers
July 9, 2022
Na ten mega koniec som aj úplne zabudol. Akože perfektná časť. A toľko toho ostalo otvoreného... že dúfam, že Garth Nix bude písať o Starom kráľovstve na veky vekov, aby stihol porozprávať všetky príbehy, čo má v hlave! He must!!!
Profile Image for Kay.
197 reviews363 followers
July 11, 2017
What a stunning conclusion to an amazing trilogy. The scope of the conclusion - which covers the foundation of the Charter - was incredible and tied up several loose ends. I can't wait to read more about Lirael and Nicholas.
Profile Image for Mike (the Paladin).
3,145 reviews1,820 followers
August 4, 2011
I would like to give this book four stars. it has some wonderful moments and it tells a good story. On the whole I enjoyed it, but not four stars worth.


First sadly it's just not as good as the first book in this "series" (I'll explain the quotes later.) I really liked Sabriel and had these on my "get them list" for a long time. This book picks up just as the second volume (Lireal) ends. Unfortunately (for me) Lireal dragged down and became such a slow and tedious book I was almost in tears at times. Having told us how legendary Sabriel and Touchstone have become over the 14 years preceding that book we proceed with a slow, wandering, at times stultifyingly dull book about Lireal (and her angst at not getting the sight) and the companion she FINALLY meets after LONG anticipation (I mena we all knew it was going to happen) Sam (and his angst at being the Abhorsen in waiting). That book also had some good moments and a pretty good story...but fewer and less than we find here. I think one problem was/is that my interest never really rekindled after the second book.

We will continue to follow our "heroes" here through more travels and travails and the book does come together in a final climactic scene...or really set of scenes, but it really didn't help for me. I saw the good parts I enjoyed it "a bit" but I just didn't care all that much and was sort of relieved it was over.

A second reason it's not quite a four star book? Well this is the third book in the Abhorsen Trilogy...sort of. As I said I was glad it was over, except it doesn't really seem to end as if it is over (no spoilers here). There is however a definite feeling that "things aren't tied up yet". Then if you go to the web sight there's a book called across the wall, considered the 4th of the Old Kingdom books. It's collected short stories so maybe that's not a big deal and we can still refer to this as the Abhorsen Trilogy...unless you count Clariel: The Lost Abhorsen, to be released in 2013, a PREQUEL. So what about the teaser ending????????????

Oh well, seen that before. Maybe he just thought he'd leave the door open, "in case".

So after my criticisms I'll say that over all I liked this book, but I just found it slow, at times laborious and really (for me) often uninteresting.... then again I lost interest in following his Keys to the Kingdom series and didn't follow up the ones I read first in spite of finding the ideas intriguing.

So, first book Sabriel excellent, highly enjoyable. Second book Lirael: Daughter of the Clayr not so much, very weak with nice patches and this book, Abhorsen not bad, but for me never recovered from the doldrums I found myself in after the second volume.... 3 stars, wish i could say it's better.

Profile Image for Nemo (The ☾Moonlight☾ Library).
627 reviews302 followers
June 7, 2018
Despite their new destinies, Lirael and Sam continue their plan to recue Nick and stop whatever he is unearthing. Slowly the pair come to discover what it is: Lirael embraces her destiny as not only the Abhorsen-in-Waiting, but a Remembrancer as well, someone who can See the past like her Clayr sisters can See the future. Sam, relieved he no longer has to deal directly with Death, embraces his destiny as a royal Wallmaker – his hobby of inventing and his powerful skill as a Charter Mage really pays off.

Although this book is a little higher on action than Lirael, I actually forgot how much of it involves travelling and discovering and planning and then action. The action really ramps up in the final third to lead to what I think is possibly my most favourite climax in any book I’ve ever read.

Lirael has really come a very long way from being the shy Sightless Second Assistant Librarian locked away in the Clayr’s Glacier – now she’s a tough warrior who slays the dead, who walks into Death itself to save the world. She’s really quite amazing.

Every time I moved back to Sam’s point of view I could almost feel the relief he felt at no longer being responsible for putting down the Dead. I’m so glad his love of inventing magical trinkets paid off in the end. I felt really sorry for Nick, the poor guy was just overwhelmed with evil power. You have to admire his willpower and intelligence though. I’m really looking forward to reading more about him and Lirael in Goldenhand. I was glad to see Mogget actually have a character arc in this besides being snide and sneaky. Although I’ve read this book before I completely forgot what happened at the end and had to have a cry when I realised who wasn’t coming back.

Nix’s writing is as always perfectly elegant, giving this novel a feel of a classic high fantasy that will last through the ages. Every time I took a moment to catch my breath we moved on through motivations of the main characters which propelled the narrative forward with ease. It’s not a fast-paced novel all the way through, it’s more like a locomotive that gently picks up speed until you’re suddenly in the third act and there’s no way you can possibly stop because you just have to know what’s going to happen next, and when all else seems lost you wonder how are our beloved characters going to get out of this unscathed?

Once more, like Sabriel, this was supposed to be the end of the story. I am so glad Nix can’t keep his mind off the Old Kingdom and went on to produce a few novellas (Across the Wall and To Hold The Bridge, reviewed here), then Clariel and now Goldenhand after this. I love this world, as terrifying as it is, I love the characters, and I love the challenges they have to overcome. I can’t wait for Goldenhand to see more of Lirael and Nick!
Profile Image for Andrea.
Author 25 books780 followers
May 22, 2017
A better-paced story than Lirael - in part because Lirael and Abhorsen are basically one complete story split into two, and while Lirael's plot involves the Old Kingdom being snared in the villain's plans - while the two main characters angst about their role in life - Abhorsen's plot is full speed ahead to confrontation.

One thing bothers me about the world-building though. The Old Kingdom exists thanks to an ancient binding contract that depends on three bloodlines. And there's an awful lot of people getting killed in this story, more or less in the background, while the descendants of these three bloodlines get the important stuff done. Quite a few of them have names, and a couple are main characters, but there's this strong sense that all the real, important people of this story are the ones with the bloodlines, and the rest are there so that someone can die to demonstrate how dark and desperate the battle is.
Profile Image for Phrynne.
3,228 reviews2,058 followers
June 11, 2014
This was a very satisfying end to an excellent series. I have really enjoyed the author's world building which includes charter magic, travels into Death,the Wall and much more. There have also been some tremendous characters, Mogget and the Disreputable Dog being two of my personal favourites. There was plenty of action in this last book and I was very happy to see Sabriel and Touchstone returning at last to share in the final outcome. This is a series I would happily recommend to anyone who likes fantasy.
Profile Image for Mayim de Vries.
577 reviews830 followers
February 26, 2018
Sabriel will always be my favourite but after the horrors of Lirael, the third installment to the series was a much welcomed improvement.

Remember that this is not a trilogy in the strictest sense, as both Lirael and Abhorsen focus on different protagonists, whereas Sabriel is a perfect stand alone. Let me repeat my previous warning, If your love is for Sabriel and Touchstone only, leave the other two books alone. They do make an appearance there, but only as secondary characters.

Nevertheless, Abhorsen brings the best flavours of Sabriel back. the main heroine in this book may also be named Lirael but she is most definitely not the girl we meet in the previous book. she is sensible, smart and funny.

"Bossy, isn't she?" remarked Mogget to Sam, who was following more slowly. "Reminds me of your mother."

Indeed, Lirael grows into her role; similarly we can observe nice character development when it comes to Sam. Abhorsen left few unanswered questions , has a couple of tiny-weeny plot holes , repeated certain motives explored in earlier books , but all in all was a very satisfying finale of the trilogy.

Perhaps not an exquisite feast, but definitely a wholesome meal. And it does leave you thinking about seconds.

Also in the series:

1. Sabriel
2. Lirael
[please note, there are two more instalments in the series as of now, but I am not sure I want to continue my journey]
Profile Image for Jonathan Terrington.
593 reviews559 followers
July 4, 2020
The world of Abhorsen is a fascinating world between death and life. Set predominantly in the Old Kingdom, this is the conclusion to the trilogy (although there is now also a prequel book) that begun with Sabriel. However, sadly, I fell in love with the world more than I fell in love with the book itself. Unlike with Harry Potter where I began to enjoy the later books more than the initial few - due to the charm of the books matching the storytelling and character development - I feel as if the first two books are far stronger than this third chapter.

The books follow the progressive story of the Abhorsen - a necromancer who is given the role of sending undead spirits back into Death. They do this with the use of special magical bells (and in this third book you discover a little more about the nature of these bells) and the Charter magic. In this final section of story one of the oldest and most dangerous spirits must be conquered with the aid of the friendships and loyalties built up over the previous two novels - but the figure of the Abhorsen is still the main player in this story.

I won't say much more about the plot to avoid spoiling it but it was interesting enough. Yet hardly invigorating enough to stand on its own and the conclusion let me down just a touch. That said, I found the development of the world intriguing - particularly the battle between 'chained' Charter magic and the free magic spirits and creatures of the Old Kingdom. That was a fascinating concept to me. And on the whole I thoroughly recommend reading this trilogy - it's one of the better YA trilogies and one of the finer fantasy stories if you are after something that's lighter and easier to race through. Happy Reading, fantasy fans!
Profile Image for Teno Q..
119 reviews40 followers
August 17, 2011
Abhorsen takes three-hundred-plus pages to take Lirael, Sam, the Dog and Mogget from Point A - the Abhorsen's house in the Old Kingdom - to Point B - the Lightening Farm in Ancelstierre. Throughout the book, the main goal was to go there, fast fast fast, hurry hurry hurry hurry. It is much the same in the first book, Sabriel. Some might find it exciting and adventurous but I simply found it tiring.

When they reach Ancelstierre, they must stop stop stop the hemispheres hemispheres hemispheres from joining joining joining. Seriously, I lost track of the number of times they repeated that. That was their one purpose in life. That was the only reason they kept go go going. Bleh.

This book is about an apocalypse. The dramatic purpose of having an apocalpse is for the readers to fear for the end of the fictional world. However, to accomplish this, the world must first be shown to have people living in it, people who it would be tragic to lose before the end of their time. It doesn't. Apart from the aforementioned main characters, Sabriel and Touchstone, the reader doesn't know any other substantial characters from this world. No one who has something that would make the reader particularly care if they died before their time. The entire plot crumbles in on itself, because their is no real reason to care if this world of theirs ends.
117 reviews4 followers
December 27, 2014
Frankly, this book bored me. I can finish a modern fantasy book I moderately like in one night, so when I say it took me weeks to read this book, you can see that something really went wrong here.

I liked Sabriel- it was fresh and fascinating, an entertaining read, though not a favourite. Plenty of action, great world building. Then along came Lirael. Also a good read, and different enough from the first to keep me interested. I liked reading about the Clayr, and the angstiness of the characters really drew me in and made me care more about them.

Abhorsen just fell flat in comparison. There was absolutely nothing new or exciting. And it was too simplistic. Good vs. Evil. No moral dilemmas, no epiphanies, no character growth. And the plot lacked mystery and tension. Honestly, by the end of it, I was just begging for a giant meteor to come and destroy the world, just for a little excitement.

If you're like me, you probably won't be able to resist reading this book to the end, because you can't just abandon a series mid-read. But I would lower your expectations before you pick it up,
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