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1 Beaverton Science Fiction and Fantasy- A to Z

Lirael: Daughter of the Clayr (Abhorsen Trilogy #2)


Lirael: Daughter of the Clayr (Abhorsen Trilogy #2) Cover

ISBN13: 9780060005429
ISBN10: 0060005424
Condition: Standard
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Chapter One
An Ill-favored Birthday

Deep within A dream, Lirael felt someone stroking her forehead. A gentle, soft touch, a cool hand upon her own fevered skin. She felt herself smile, enjoying the touch. Then the dream shifted, and her forehead wrinkled. The touch was no longer soft and loving, but rough and rasping. No longer cool, but hot, burning her --

She woke up. It took her a second to realize that she'd clawed the sheet away and had been lying facedown on the coarsely woven mattress cover. It was wool and very scratchy. Her pillow lay on the floor. The pillowcase had been torn off in the course of some nightmare and now hung from her chair.

Lirael looked around the small chamber, but there were no signs of any other nocturnal damage. Her simple wardrobe of dressed pine was upright, the dull steel latch still closed. The desk and chair still occupied the other corner. Her practice sword hung in its scabbard on the back of the door.

It must have been a relatively good night. Sometimes, in her nightmare-laced sleep, Lirael walked, talked, and wreaked havoc. But always only in her room. Her precious room. She couldn't bear to think what life would be like if she were forced to go back to family chambers.

She closed her eyes again and listened. All was silent, which meant that it must be long before the Waking Bell. The bell sounded at the same time every day, calling the Clayr out of their beds to join the new day.

Lirael scrunched her eyes together more tightly and tried to go back to sleep. She wanted to regain the feel of that hand on her brow. That touch was the only thing she remembered of her mother. Not her face or her voice — just the touch of her cool hand.

She needed that touch desperately today. But Lirael's mother was long gone, taking the secret of Lirael's paternity with her. She had left when Lirael was five, without a word, without an explanation. There never was any explanation. just the news of her death, a garbled message from the distant North that had arrived three days before Lirael's tenth birthday.

Once she had thought of that, there was no hope for sleep. As on every other morning, Lirael gave up trying to keep her eyes shut. She let them spring open and stared up at the ceiling for a few minutes. But the stone had not changed overnight. It was still grey and cold, with tiny flecks of pink.

A Charter mark for light glowed there too, warm and golden in the stone. It had shone brighter when Lirael had first awoken and grew brighter still as she swung her feet out and felt around with her toes for her half-shoes. The Clayr's halls were heated by the steam of hot springs and by magic, but the stone floor was always cold.

"Fourteen today," whispered Lirael. She had her half-shoes on, but made no move to rise. Ever since the message of her mother's death had come so close to her tenth birthday, all her birthdays had been harbingers of doom.

"Fourteen!" Lirael said again, the word laced with anguish. She was fourteen, and by the measure of the world outside the Clayr's Glacier, a woman. But here she must still wear the blue tunic of a child, for the Clayr marked the passage to adulthood not by age, but by the gift of the Sight.

Once again, Lirael closed her eyes, screwing them tight as she willed herself to See the future. Everyone else her age had the Sight. Many younger children already wore the white robe and the circlet of moonstones. It was unheard of not to have the Sight by fourteen.

Lirael opened her eyes, but she saw no vision. Just her simple room, slightly blurred by tears. She rubbed them away and got up.

"No mother, no father, no Sight," she said as she opened her wardrobe and took out a towel. It was a familiar litany. She said it often, though it always made her feel a terrible stab of sorrow in her stomach. It was like worrying a toothache with her tongue. It hurt, but she couldn't leave it alone. The wound was part of her now.

But perhaps soon, one day she would be summoned by the Voice of the Nine Day Watch. Then she would wake and say, "No mother, no father, but I have the Sight."

"I will have the Sight," Lirael muttered to herself as she eased open the door and tiptoed down the corridor to the baths. Charter marks brightened as she passed under them, bringing day from twilight. But all the other doors in the Hall of Youth remained shut. Once, Lirael would have knocked on them, laughing and calling the other orphans who lived there to an early bath.

But that was years ago. Before they had all gained the Sight.

That was also when Merell was Guardian of the Young, one who had governed her charges with a light hand. Lirael's own aunt Kirrith was Guardian now. If there was any noise, she would emerge from her room in her maroon-and-white-striped bathrobe, to order silence and respect for sleeping elders. She would make no special allowance for Lirael, either. Quite the reverse. Kirrith was the exact opposite of Lirael's mother, Arielle. She was all for rules and regulations, tradition and conformity.

Kirrith would never leave the Glacier to travel who knew where, only to return seven months gone with child. Lirael scowled at Kirrith's door. Not that Kirrith had ever told her that. Kirrith wouldn't talk about her younger sister. The little Lirael knew about her mother came from eavesdropping on her closer cousins" conversations. The ones during which they discussed what to do about a girl who so obviously didn't belong.

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Winterfell, January 1, 2010 (view all comments by Winterfell)
Epic adventure starring very easy-to-relate to protagonist. The Abhorsen trilogy is must-read for fantasy fans.
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Shoshana, January 25, 2007 (view all comments by Shoshana)
+ Strong female protagonist; incorporation of mythic and modern elements; appealing cover art that references the Magician Tarot card.

- Illegible map in the front matter, for no good reason. It looks like a bad photocopy of the map in Sabriel.

The second of the Abhorsen trilogy. Opens with a table of contents that is evocative of Tolkien (e.g., "An Ill-Favored Birthday," "Sam the Traveler"). The opening has a strong whiff of Le Guin's The Tombs of Atuan; later, Robert Charles Wilson's Darwinia may be more apropos. Since all of these writers are dealing in archetypes, this convergence is not unexpected.

While Sabriel used a single third-person limited point of view other than in the prologue, Lirael generally alternates between the tales of Lirael, a Daughter of the Clayr who has not yet gained her magical Sight, and Sameth, the younger son of the Abhorsen and the King. Neither Lirael nor Sameth is portrayed as particularly appealing; they are both suffering from heavy adolescent angst related to their career failings. In addition, Lirael is socially isolated (in part by her own choice) and Sameth is scarred both physically and emotionally by an encounter that occurs early in the action. These two teenagers provide foils for each other as their lives run in parallel and then intersect. They are realistically self-preoccupied and morose.

Lirael, like Sabriel, is bereft of parents, has a magical animal as a sidekick, and demonstrates knowledge and skillfulness beyond her teachers' abilities. Both must grope toward knowledge, and their destinies, without much guidance other than from their familiars. Like Ged and Tenar of Earthsea, they grope for ancient mysteries all but forgotten in the present day.

It's clearer in this second volume that the country of Ancelstierre is intended roughly to correspond to England in the earlier part of the 20th century, while the Old Kingdom is a sort of magical northlands, complete with a magical border wall between the countries from coast to coast.

Lirael functions as a bridge between Sabriel and Abhorsen, leaving many plot points open while crystalizing only a few. Not a good stand-alone read. It was published 6 years after Sabriel, and is more playful in tone.
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Product Details

Nix, Garth
by Garth Nix
New York
Action & Adventure
Science Fiction, Fantasy, & Magic
Children's 12-Up - Fiction - Fantasy
Fantasy fiction
Magical thinking.
Action & Adventure - General
Fantasy - General
Fantasy - Epic
Fantasy & Magic
Children s-Science Fiction and Fantasy
Edition Number:
Reprint ed.
Edition Description:
The Old Kingdom
Series Volume:
Publication Date:
April 30, 2002
Grade Level:
from 7
6.80x4.16x1.52 in. .71 lbs.
Age Level:

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Lirael: Daughter of the Clayr (Abhorsen Trilogy #2) Used Mass Market
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Product details 720 pages HarperTrophy - English 9780060005429 Reviews:
"Review" by , "Nix invests the Old Kingdom of his story with a Gothic ambiance that is at once dark, heroic, and resolute....Nix's imaginative magical descriptions, plot intrigues, and adventure sequences are outstanding..."
"Review" by , "[A] riveting sequel....Readers who like their fantasy intense in action, magisterial in scope, and apocalyptic in consequences will revel in every word..."
"Review" by , "In Nix's sequel to Sabriel, readers return to the entrancing and complicated Old Kingdom....[T]he heroine's plight [is] instantly compelling..."
"Review" by , "Nix not only maintains the intricate world he created for the earlier book but also continues the frenetic pace of the action and the level of violence. The cliffhanger ending sets readers up for a third book..."
"Review" by , "The fast-paced plot is packed with harrowing encounters....A must-read for fans of the first book, Lirael will also fascinate readers new to the series."
"Review" by , "The story is long, but Nix provides enough twists to keep up the reader's sense of suspense and discovery. Nix also does a good job of getting inside the skin of a female teenager, which is welcome in this genre."
"Review" by , "Sound world-building, swift plotting, and superb characterization...make this sequel must reading for those who have read the first volume and a brisk, involving experience for those who have not."
"Review" by , "The plot is filled with hair-raising escapes, desperate flights, relentless pursuits, and magical duels, described in sensual language that makes the scenes live."
"Synopsis" by , Lirael has never felt like a true daughter of the Clayr, but nonetheless it is Lirael in whose hands the fate of the Old Kingdom lies. She must now undertake a desperate mission under the growing shadow of an ancient evil and find the courage to seek her own hidden destiny.
"Synopsis" by , When a dangerous necromancer threatens to unleash a long-buried evil, Lirael and Prince Sameth are drawn into a battle to save the Old Kingdom and reveal their true destinies.
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