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Lirael: Daughter of the Clayr    by Garth Nix order for
by Garth Nix
Order:  USA  Can
HarperTrophy, 2002 (2001)
Hardcover, Paperback

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* *   Reviewed by Hilary Williamson

Orphaned Lirael has grown up amongst the Clayr, despairing as each of her peers reached adulthood before her with the precious gift of the Sight. For Lirael there is 'No mother, no father, no Sight.' In fact, her mother is dead, her father a mystery, and the aunt who has raised her seems unloving and insensitive. Suicidal thoughts drive Lirael to the edge of the glacier, where she is discovered and offered a position in the Great Library.

In her new role as Third Assistant, Lirael's curiosity quickly gets her into trouble when she frees a dangerous elemental, a Stilken, from the Old Levels. But, with the help of the (magical) Disreputable Dog, Lirael manages to bind it again, to learn to shapechange, and to discover her birthright. Along with it comes the responsibility to travel to the Red Lake and into terrible danger for the sake of the Kingdom and her Clayr cousins.

In the meantime Prince Sameth has been getting into trouble of his own in an encounter with the necromancer Hedge. This leaves Sam terrified of his own birthright as heir to his mother Sabriel's role as the Abhorsen. He cannot force himself to study the Book of the Dead or to use the bells which his mother has given him, and flees the capital in search of his friend Nicholas, now under Hedge's influence.

Of course the paths of Lirael and Sam converge en route to deadly danger. Though the terrified Sam finds courage and Lirael discovers her heritage in battles with necromancers and their Dead servants, the story is not resolved in this volume. Hedge 'is planning to kill two hundred thousand people and unleash every spirit in Death upon the Kingdom.' We'll just have to wait for the next episode, Abhorsen, to find out how these young heroes stop him.

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