I’ve previously read Sabriel, the forerunner to this book, and, while it took some time to get going, was impressed enough to stick Lirael and Abhorsen (the follow on to this book), on my wish list and have had them sat on my shelf for some time.

Unlike Sabiel, which is a self-contained novel, Lirael is the first half of a story that spans two novels. It’s set some time after Sabriel, who is now the Abhorsen and queen of the Old Kingdom, with Touchstone now the king. Their children are just starting to come to an age where they are taking up the reigns while their parents head around trying to put down the worrying increase in free magic creatures.

They’re joined by Lirael, a daughter of the Clayr (a separate race/community who can see into the future), who didn’t know her father and was left by her mother at a young age. Lirael is distraught because she hasn’t developed the Sight, the thing that is most important to a Clayr.

As an ancient evil begins to rise and play out a long plan, Prince Sameth and Lirael seem to have a part to play in putting it down, with the Abhorsen and the King engaged in a perilous diplomatic trip to try and stop one arm of the plan, Sam and Lirael must go head-to-head with some of the most dangerous creatures ever seen in the Old Kingdom.

The story is filled with plenty of intrigue, twists and turns, but because it’s only the first half it raises as many questions as it answers, but the way it’s set-up Abhorsen looks to have a ripping finale. Again, the book is covered in interesting ideas and invention, this is set in a place very far from the typical fantasy setting, with much less re-use of old stereotypes and no cardboard characters, making it a gripping and entertaining tale.

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Reviewed: 24th November 2008