by Garth Nix

Rating: ★★★


Rating: ★★★

Pretty decent fantasy offering. Fairly genre-bound in the shape of its plot, with the extremely minor difference that the heroine gets a prince rather than the hero getting a princess; but the formula works well enough and here it comes across as quite charming. Nix does well at differentiating his setting -- the battle of a necromancer against the dead is in itself quite a hook, but there are also other elements here to give hints of depth without Nix overtly expositing. The technology/magic split between Ancelstierre and the Old Kingdom was neat, and justified by its importance to the plot.

Also, though, there is a gentle attention to things outside of the usual narrative lens of this sort of work: Sabriel thinks about the deaths she causes to save her own life, not tearing your patience with guilt and angst, but acknowledging it when she spends lives that you might not have noticed. And also, at the climax, it is a nameless background character that saves the day.

Enough here to be entertaining, if you go in without expectations set too high, and convinces me to continue with the series for more of the same.


Rating: ★★

I probably somewhat overestimated my appetite for this kind of story after reading Sabriel. In many ways it's still not bad -- Nix manages to depict two teenagers both suffering in the midst of kind and supportive families without you entirely turning on them. The lore established in the first book is stretched a little, a few more details shaded in. It helps that the world has its own somewhat unique flavour.

However, whereas Sabriel concluded, its story-arc completed, Lirael takes the serialisation approach too common in fantasy. The main narrative of this generation isn't complete, and we're asked to be content with an (entirely predictable) revelation about the parentage of an orphan. This isn't objectively terrible for the genre, but it is irksome, and given that I was already finding earlier parts of the story a bit tedious, it's enough to downgrade my opinion by a star, and turn me away from the series in search of something that won't try my patience so much.