Lirael, Daughter of the Clayr

Author: Garth Nix
Year: 2001
Genre: Fantasy

This is the second part of a trilogy that I started in October. Like any fantasy series, the Abhorsen Trilogy's first requirement is to build a world, a magic system, and all of that. Nix's world is involving, engaging -- and tremendously complicated. It takes most of Sabriel to cover geography and magic, so through the first half of Lirael, he's still putting into play all of the politics and history that you'll need to understand the final battle that is presumably coming up in Volume III. The background mythology unfolds little by little, mysteriously, along with our heroes' adventure. It's like waiting until the end of The Two Towers to learn that the bad guy is Sauron.

This volume follows two young people who both lack parental guidance (one is an orphan, the other is royal), and who both fail to measure up to the social expectations of who they will grow up to be. They both remind me of pre-med kids I knew in college, so thoroughly indoctrinated to believe that they will be doctors that they never stop to consider whether they want to be doctors. Nix places a liberating message for those kids on the last page of The Book of the Dead: "Does the walker choose the path, or the path the walker?" In other words, just relax and be yourself.

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