Thursday, September 22, 2011

Review: Lirael by Garth Nix, Read by Tim Curry

“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.Lirael, the second book in The Abhorsen Chronicles/The Old Kingdom series, begins deep within the mountains of the Calyr (those with the “sight,” who see the future). Lirael is parentless and sightless, an oddity in the Clayr household. She is young, too, only 14 and wants nothing more than to gain the sight.  To take her mind of her shortcomings Lirael takes a position as an 3rd Assistant Librarian in the Clayr’s massive library.

The commentary on librarians and librarianship is hilarious if somewhat disconcerting to a future librarian. Lirael chooses the profession because she knows she can hide there and avoid people – a perfect job for an odd, quiet girl! Hmm. On the flip side, Lirael looks forward to the adventures she will have in the library when alone there: long forgotten corridors, chained books with protective spells, interesting ancient trinkets and dangerous creatures! Of course, Lirael opens one too many doors and the story really begins.

Lirael’s companion, the Disreputable Dog, is now one of my all time favorite characters. Smart and sassy this K-9 offers comic relief while proffering mysterious insights for Lirael to digest. “Does the walker choose the path or the path choose the walker?”  A dynamic character, the Disreputable Dog is begging for a walk one minute and guiding a dangerous mission the next. “Dog, I want a straight answer. Who or what are you?” asks Lirael. And dog the replies, “I’m the Disreputable Dog! And your friend.” *Watering eyes*

Garth Nix is a great writer. The content is great. He builds a unique but believable world and sets interesting characters in it. He is a great storyteller but also a good writer in a technical and artistic sense, too. He never complicates passages. I’m never stumbling over sentence structure. The diction is good which shows in the dialog and descriptive passages which made my skin tingle as much as they made me laugh. I feel transported in these stories.

I listened to the audiobook (samples) which is read by Tim Curry who did an outstanding job. I was leery at the idea of listening for 15 hours but, wow, it was worth it. I was sad when the end came. I looked forward to listening to Curry’s dynamic voice every day. So much so, in fact, that I drove to the neighboring town and got a library card there so I could check out the third book, Abhorsen, with Curry reading again. (Oddly, my library only owns Lirael in audio format.) Curry booms, leers, whispers, lingers, rushes and pauses in all the right moments making the listening experience theatrical. It’s not over done but done just right. 

Two tiny issues:

1) Notwithstanding Tim Curry’s awesome voice acting, the first two disks of the story had me worried that Lirael was going to be a dud. Lirael spends a great deal of time moping in the beginning. It’s not that she hasn’t cause to mope but I did want to reach into the story and slap her face, tell her to stop obsessing about herself, to stop waiting for things to happen to her and make something happen! Of course, this is exactly what occurs as Lirael grows up (minus the slapping). And when Lirael began her struggle to find her place in the world I began to like her very much.

2) Lirael is not a standalone novel. It’s not that the reader misses too much info from Sabriel to understand what’s going on in Lirael but the ending is very unresolved. Personally, this did not bother me at all since I am enjoying the story. As I am writing this I have already begun the third book (good so far!) and feel as though Lirael and Abhorsen are the same book, really, just cut in half.

If you are a fantasy fan I highly recommend this series. I fully expect I’ll be purchasing these books in some format. Definitely re-reads. Read my reivew of the first book, Sabriel, here.

Publisher: Listening Library, 2002     Duration: 14 hours, 44 mins on 13 CDs
Rating: 5 Stars     Source: Public Library


  1. I've yet to read any books by Garth Nix. What is wrong with me?! Btw, I agree that Curry has an awesome reading voice. I listened to his narration for the first Lemony Snicket book and it was fabulous. Glad to know that he has done other audiobooks.

  2. Rummanah - I hope you'll try this series! A teacher of mine introduced me to it and I'm so glad she did!

  3. I listened to Sabriel on audio. I haven't been able to make it through Lirael. I'm planning to at some point. Just not sure when.

  4. the 3 books are really known as the abhorsen series so it really does help to read them all. and abhorsen is the second part to lirael so everything will be explained there. I am glad you are enjoying the series. I read them in middle school and fell in love with Nix's work. :)