Through the Looking Glass Children's Book Reviews

Lireal Audio

Lireal Audio

Garth Nix
For ages 13 and up
Unabridged audiobook (Digital)
Performed/read by: Tim Curry
Audible, 2006 

Lireal is one of the Clayr, which means that she belongs to a special community whose members all acquire the gift of the Sight when they are still children. Every year Lireal has eagerly waited for her ability to arrive, and every year she has been disappointed.

When, on her fourteen birthday, Lireal once again does not get the Sight, she is overwhelmed with despair and loneliness. It is “unheard of” for a fourteen year old Clayr child to be without the Sight. Lireal decides that the only thing that she can do is to climb the Starmount stair and throw herself off the mountain and onto the ice of the glacier. However, when she faces that long drop, Lireal loses her nerve and she retreats to the hanger where the Paperwings are kept. She is there when a Paperwing arrives and is hiding in a snowdrift when the two passengers get down from their strange conveyance. Lireal quickly realizes that the woman is none other than the Abhorsen, the necromancer who works to keep the Old Kingdom free from the evil influences of Free Magic and the Dead. With her is her husband, King Touchstone I.

As she watches, seven members of the Clayr come to confer with the visitors. Apparently the Abhorsen and the king are hoping that the Clayr can use their Sight to tell them what is happening in the West. Unfortunately, the Clayr cannot seem to see this place, because “some power exists there that blocks all but the briefest glimpses.” They cannot offer the two protectors of the Old Kingdom any information about what kind of danger lurks in that part of the country.

After the Abhorsen and the king leave, the seven Clayr seek out Lireal where she is hiding. Two of them take pity on the girl who feels so alone in her own home, and they decide that she should be given a job to distract her from the fact that she has not yet been given the Sight. Thus Lireal ends up becoming a Third Assistant Librarian. As the lowest ranking librarian, Lireal does not have permission to access many of the rooms in the enormous and ancient Clayr library. Being impatient, Lireal finds ways to get around this problem and one day, when many of the librarians are busy, she enters a forbidden door. On the other side of the door she encounters a horrific beast of Free Magic and almost dies because of the encounter. Terribly injured by the spell she cast to seal the door, Lireal ends up telling one of the Clayr what happened to her in the room. The Clayr advises Lireal to learn about the creature she released before it has a chance to break out of its prison. She also suggests that Lireal create a companion for herself, a Sending dog, so that she has someone to talk to.

Lireal ends up following the advice that she was given. She both gets rid of the monster and she conjures up a Sending dog who is marvelous companion for her. Indeed, the dog is a strong and wise Free Magic animal, a creature that Lireal does not really understand. Together Lireal and her friend explore their world, which is how Lireal ends up in a place which, it would appear, was created for her by one of her Clayr ancestors. Someone in the past knew that Lireal was going to need to visit this place and acquire the book and tools that are stored there.

Then, for the first time, the present day Clayr See Lireal in a vision. She is with a young man called Nicholas in that place in the West that has, so far, been closed to the Clayr’s Seeing ability. It is clear that Lireal has to travel to that place so that she can help the young man who was seen in the vision. It is also clear that though Lireal does not have the Sight to see into the future, she does have the means to See into the past. One way or another she is going to play an important role in the history of the Old Kingdom.

Lireal is not the only young person who is struggling to understand her place in the world. Sameth, the prince of the Old Kingdom, has been told since he was a child that he will take over as Abhorsen when his mother dies. The problem is that that Sameth has neither the skill nor the inclination to be a necromancer who protects the land from the undead. Though there is a bigger need than ever for him to be learn how to be the Abhorsen-in-waiting, Sameth cannot seem to make himself study and train. When he hears that his friend, Nicholas, is heading for a place in the west, a place where some terrible evil force is growing, Sameth decides that it is his duty to go to save Nicholas before he gets into trouble. Sameth never imagines that his choice to run away from his duties will catapult him into a situation that is infinitely worse than the one at home.

This second story in the Abhorsen trilogy introduces us to the son of Sabriel and Touchstone, the characters we met in the first title in this series. Once again rich language brings Garth Nix’s incredible world to life as Sabriel, her husband, her son Sameth, and a young Clayr woman do their best defend the Old Kingdom from enemies both within and beyond their borders.