Koalathebear's Reviews > Lirael

Lirael by Garth Nix
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's review
Jun 20, 2012

really liked it
bookshelves: young-adult

** spoiler alert ** Lirael is a wonderful book. There are many reasons that I like Garth Nix so much. One of them is the fact that reading his books is effortless. His writing style is so matter of fact that his storytelling just soaks into you as you read. With some authors, even though they're very talented, I find I might have to concentrate or re-read certain passages to take everything in. Nix manages to convey a lot with a very simple storytelling style. He draws us into a very complex and fantastical world but with a marvellous economy of words. Despite his brevity, his writing is very evocative.

n Lirael and Sameth as characters

To be honest, when I first encountered her, I didn't like Lirael very much. Sabriel is a very self-possessed and tough young woman. When we first meet Lirael, she's contemplating suicide because the Sight has not yet awoken in her. Not the best of introductions. It's interesting though because as the book develops, Lirael gradually matures and develops. By the end of the book, she is a confident young woman who is starting to realise who she is and her purpose in life.

Similarly, when we first meet Sameth, he's a bit of a brat. His elder sister Ellimere comes across as rather insufferable and bossy, but Sameth is self-pitying and even appears slightly cowardly. By the end of the book, Sameth has displayed his courage and his talents. Lirael sees his strength for the first time when Sameth casts an arrow ward.

I have to say that I adore Nix's vivid descriptions of Charter magic and spells.

For both Lirael and Sameth, both were previously very awkward and unable to shine because they had been forced to be that which they were not. Lirael has grown up with the expectation that she is a Clayr and to have the Sight when she is in fact an Abhorsen. Sameth has been raised to believe that he is the Abhorsen-in-Waiting when he is in fact a Wallmaker. When both discover who they truly are, suddenly many things become clear.

Is Nix trying to make a point? Is he saying that there is only one pre-destined path for each person and unless you discover your purpose and destiny, you are doomed to unhappiness? Nix would appear to follow the nature rather than nurture principle! :)

Lirael is all about destiny and choices. "Does the walker choose the path, or the path the walker?" we keep reading and in a sense it's all about paths decisions made by the characters and the extent to which they have a choice about their future. I'm not sure I want to agree with the notion that destiny and fate are fixed points towards which we all are doomed to walk.

Other random thoughts:

I love the recognition between Mogget and the Disreputable Dog. We're not sure what it is they are recognising, but they definitely know one another.
I love how Mogget calls the Disreputable Dog the Disgusting Dog with such scorn
I love the sheer snarky, felineness of Mogget and the dogginess of the Disreputable Dog
I'm creeped out by the fact that there's a brief time when Sameth thinks Lirael is hot ;) Eww!
These are not kids' books. The scene when they come upon the group of Southerlings being slaughtered by the Dead is graphic and very distressing as is the moment when the remaining survivor dies ....
I'm sad to see Sabriel and Touchstone ageing.
I enjoyed the sail down the river - the four of them in a Clayr boat known as the Finder. It's almost relaxing and peaceful, even though they're being pursued by the Dead. :)
I notice that Lirael was published in 2001. I can't help wondering whether Nix's description of the Southering refugees was drawn in any way from the Tampa Crisis which also took place in 2001.

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