Book Review: Abhorsen by Garth Nix

Abhorsen is the final novel in Garth Nix’s award-winning Abhorsen trilogy.  The first book is Sabriel, and the second in the series is Lirael.  This third novel follows closely on the heels of the second, picking up immediately where Lirael left off.  Though the first book stands on its own, the second and third in the series should really be read in conjunction with one another, as together they do combine to make one complete story time-line.

Abhorsen is the continuation of the quest of Lirael.  Though new to her inherited roles as as the Abhorsen-in-Waiting and as a Rembrancer, she is able to deftly walk the veil between life and death.  As with many science fiction and fantasy tales, she and her cohorts, Prince Sameth, the Disreputable Dog, and the sometimes dangerous Free Magic cat Mogget, must strive to save the world from impending doom.  In this case, they must stop the Destroyer Orannis, along with his necromancer, Dead, and Free Magic minions, before all life is swept from the face of the planet.

In a very unsettling way, it reminded her of the river of Death.  But she did not feel they were in Death, and apart from the growing cold and the peripheral view of the river, all her senses told her that she was firmly in Life, though in a very strange tunnel, far underground.

Nix’s descriptions of the land of death are consistent throughout the series, creating a realm of magical realism that is believable and interesting, particularly as the final gateway is faced.  He manages to create characters that draw in the reader.  This skill holds true even for peripheral characters.  I found myself wishing to learn more about each person, while discovering enough to identify with each in some way and be personally invested in their outcome.

The trilogy is deftly wrapped up with Abhorsen, yet I still found myself wishing that the adventures could continue.  I look forward to reading more of Garth Nix’s young adult fantasy novels in the future.


  1. Yes, Amber. Though she is not the main character, Sabriel makes an appearance and plays a role in each book.

    Did you read the first book? Sabriel and Lirael are both interesting main characters, though I think I identified a bit more with Lirael than with Sabriel. Perhaps it was the librarian thing and her love for books. 😉


  2. I haven’t read any of them, yet, unfortunately. Your description of them includes some elements from Pullman’s His Dark Materials trilogy and an unfinished short story of mine. Until recently, the only fantasy I’ve read in the last two years have been for book reviews. You’re giving me more and more reasons to use the rest of my Barnes and Noble gift card. 🙂


  3. Amber — Aren’t bookstore gift cards are the best? I know what you mean about those review books piling up though. I still look forward to more arriving in the mail though, even when I’m already surrounded by them. There’s nothing quite like having a pile of new books to read!

    Finish that short story. It sounds interesting.


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