Nix, Garth. Abhorsen (Old Kingdom, #3). Harper Teen, 2003. ISBN 978-0060278250 368 pp. $
This highly-anticipated sequel is a conclusion to Sabriel (Harper,1996) and Lirael (Harper, 2001) that doesn’t disappoint. The delicate balance between good and evil is once again upset in the Old Kingdom. The dead are restless after nearly eighteen years of rebuilding and peace under the reign of King Touchstone and Queen Sabriel, while the New Kingdom grows more corrupt with each passing day. The Clayr are unable to see a clear future, and as the king and queen go missing (believed to be dead), Lirael, formerly a misfit and Second Assistant Librarian in the Clayr finds her true calling as a Remembrancer and Abhorsen-In-Waiting as she and her nephew Prince Sameth undertake a near impossible task.
Accompanied by the exuberant Disreputable Dog and caustic free elemental Mogget, the foursome journey to locate Sam’s missing friend Nicholas to avert an impending disaster of horrific proportion. Nick, a man of science, has been magically enslaved to become the voice of a long dead evil that will soon be unleashed into the Old Kingdom to destroy all life. Drama builds as Sam and Lirael travel to the place where Nick is the unwitting participant. Once they arrive, the tension shifts: will they be able to accomplish the spell that will bind Chlorr forever?
The writing and fully realized fantasy world are superb, and Nix’s fully fleshed out characters leap off the page, making the reader shudder, chuckle, and even weep. Richly symbolic with nods to Greek mythology and the traditional hero’s round, Nix makes powerful statements about war and peace as well as character and the path one walks.
The only flaw of the book is that reading the three volumes in sequence makes the reader feel that something was left out. We never see Sabriel’s initial encounters and battle with Hedge or Chlorr, since in the first book, Kerrigore that was the foe she defeated. The gap makes this reader yearn for another book.