Through a nagging feeling of déjà vu, I came to remember that I had started this book around the time it was first published, but apparently never finished it. Although I read it swiftly and enjoyed it thoroughly this time around, I feel I owe it to my prior self to hone in a little on why I might once have put the book down. This book is almost like a background story to the much more epic Lirael and Abhorsen. It feels a little small in comparison and gains much of its appeal only when you begin the second part and realize that the chronicles span two generations and that you have, in a sense, lived through a bit of the Old Kingdom’s history.
This second book contains my favorite feat of Garth Nix’ considerable imagination: the Clayr Library. The Clayr library surmounts any other imaginary library I’ve ever read about, topping Hogwart’s by whole mountains. Every time the young prince came on the scene to interrupt Lirael and the Disreputable Dog’s adventures I groaned inwardly. Though I knew that the prince’s ineptitude and self-deprecation would play out an important part later (and surely they did), it didn’t stop me from wishing that I could spend several books reading about that library alone.
This book gives a satisfying conclusion to the problems presented in Lirael, with an epic trip into Death and some quite surprising revelations. All in all, I would recommend this trilogy to anyone who has a fondness for children’s fantasy books. It might make a good follow up for that post-Harry Potter emptiness.
Beverage: How could you have time for one? I hardly had enough time to go to work while I was immersed in this book…
Reminds me… a little of the His Dark Materials trilogy by Philip Pullman