Book Review – Abhorsen by Garth Nix

Abhorsen by Garth Nix

Abhorsen by Garth Nix

Award-winning author Garth Nix’s conclusion to “Sabriel” and “Lirael” is
“Abhorsen.” Taking place immediately following “Lirael,” “Abhorsen” also
splits time among many characters of this dual-world.

The Abhorsen Sabriel and her husband, King Touchstone, struggle in magic-
less Ancelstierre, where their magical abilities are useless. The evil
necromancer Hedge has manipulated politics in Ancelstierre in order to send
hundreds of thousands of war refugees over the Wall and into the Old
Kingdom, where he can kill them and use their dead bodies for his evil plans.
Sabriel and Touchstone are on a desperate quest to keep the refugees in
Ancelstierre. Instead of finding help and understanding, they are attacked.

Meanwhile, Lirael and Sameth have come into their own. Lirael, much to Sam’s
relief, is Sabriel’s half-sister and the true Abhorsen-in-Waiting. More, because
of her mixed Clayr and Abhorsen heritage, she is also a Rememberancer—that
rarest of rare mages who can See into the past. With Sabriel gone, it is Lirael
who must deal with the Dead who seem to spring from ever corner.

Sameth’s proficiency at making things, his joy of tinkering and combining
magic with objects, and his strong connection with magic all point to one thing—
he is the true heir to the power of the Wallmakers, one of the lost magical
families whose strength was in magical construction. Sam too must learn to
make the most of his powers, but will it be enough to help Lirael succeed
against Hedge and, worse, Hedge’s master?

Sam and Lirael, however, are not totally alone. The cat-like Mogget and the
Disreputable Dog, both mysterious magical creatures, are there to give
assistance, guidance, and support. Or are they…?

Each in his own way, our heroes fight against an ancient evil that Hedge is
resurrecting. Sam’s friend Nick from Anclestierre has become deeply wrapped
in this scheme, unwittingly the host of Hedge’s master and helping to build the
Lightening Field that will free this evil. Has Nick been completely subverted, or
is there some small part of him that can resist?

Each character’s path brings the book closer to the final, cataclysmic battle.
The consequences of this battle are clear: if our heroes lose, the Old Kingdom,
Ancelstierre, and the whole world will be destroyed.

“Abhorsen” is a thoroughly satisfying conclusion to Nix’s trilogy. Nix’s world,
magical system, and characters continue to evolve. He continues to
successfully answer questions while raising more, building to a conclusion that
brings all loose ends together. The action never stops and Nix swings the
reader through chilling descriptions, riveting action, and personal triumph. As
in the previous books, Nix highlights the values of family, friendship, loyalty,
and principle; these values are worth fighting for and do not come without cost.
Although religious allegory becomes a bit heavy-handed toward the end,
“Abhorsen” is a fine read for readers of all ages.

I rate it a 9 out of 10.

First Printing: (Mar. 1, 2006) (now, at

Second Printing: (Dec. 22, 2006).


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