Abhorsen (Abhorsen Series #3)

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In the years since the publication of Sabriel, Garth Nix has proven himself one of the most accomplished fantasy writers around. Now he has completed the hotly anticipated conclusion of a trilogy that ranks with the finest fantasy published today. For Abhorsen continues the story of Lirael, formerly Second Assistant Librarian, now Abhorsen-in-Waiting and charged with maintaining the border between Life and Death. Together with Prince Sam, Mogget, and the Disreputable Dog, Lirael must forestall the waking of an ...
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Abhorsen (Abhorsen Series #3)

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In the years since the publication of Sabriel, Garth Nix has proven himself one of the most accomplished fantasy writers around. Now he has completed the hotly anticipated conclusion of a trilogy that ranks with the finest fantasy published today. For Abhorsen continues the story of Lirael, formerly Second Assistant Librarian, now Abhorsen-in-Waiting and charged with maintaining the border between Life and Death. Together with Prince Sam, Mogget, and the Disreputable Dog, Lirael must forestall the waking of an unspeakable evil before it has the chance to wield its ultimate powers of destruction.

Abhorsen-In-Waiting Lirael and Prince Sameth, a Wallmaker, must confront and bind the evil spirit Oranis before it can destroy all life.

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Editorial Reviews

Bulletin of the Center for Children’s Books
“More than three hundred pages of breathless chases, near escapes, and intense confrontations. Nix’s intricately imagined fantasy world is peopled by complex players worthy of both their dramatic backdrops and their moral dilemmas.”
Publishers Weekly
PW called this "a riveting continuation of the story begun in Sabriel and Liraed. At once an allegory regarding war and peace and a testament to friendship, this is a thought-provoking fantasy." Ages 12-up. (Feb.) Copyright 2004 Reed Business Information.
Children's Literature
Lirael's former life as a Second Assistant Librarian bears no resemblance to her sudden "promotion" to Abhorsen-in-Waiting. In a time when magic, good and evil are all powerful forces, Lirael must take on the responsibility to maintain the borders of Life and Death—essentially protecting all the world from nothingness and death. With an unlikely group of traveling companions—her cousin Sam, the Disreputable Dog, and the cat Mogget—Lirael races against the evil plot of the sorcerer Hedge who plans to reunite a device that will unleash terror and destruction on the world. As she struggles with this momentous task, she must also come to understand her own abilities and accept her future. A sequel to Sabriel and Lirael, Abhorsen will delight Nix's dedicated fans. Similar to Tamora Pierce's engaging heroines, this fantasy novel provides readers with a view of a strong, quick-thinking, compassionate young woman who triumphs against seemingly impossible odds. 2003, EOS/HarperCollins, Ages 14 up.
— Leah Hanson
Readers of Sabriel (HarperCollins, 1996/VOYA April 1997) and Lirael (2001/VOYA August 2001) will welcome the chance to return to the world of necromancers, Charter signs, and Free Magic, where the Dead threaten the living, and where Lirael, Abhorsen-in-training, and Sam, son of Sabriel and Touchstone, face a fearsome task. The monstrously corrupt necromancer Hedge and his loathsome army of the Dead want to release a dormant and unspeakable evil capable of destroying all life. The young people, although struggling to overcome their fear and self-doubt, have help in their task. Lirael enjoys the support of her companion of the heart, the Disreputable Dog, a delightful combination of rollicking canine and fearsome elemental. Sam must make do with the grudging assistance of spoiled white cat Mogget, really a spirit bound to the service of the Abhorsens. These two, along with Sam's friend Nick, have peculiarly important roles to play in the destruction of Hedge's power. This tale is a brilliant mix of subtlety and tension, darkness and light. Cliff-hanging action combines with Gothic gloom, occasionally leavened by flashes of wit that are usually courtesy of the sparring between Mogget and the Dog. Nix's Old Kingdom is a world as fully realized as Narnia or Cittagazze, peopled by strong and believable human and nonhuman characters. The poignant yet hopeful ending hints at a possible return to the Old Kingdom. Readers should be familiar with the two previous volumes before choosing this book. Libraries can expect heavy demand from impatient fans of the series. VOYA CODES: 5Q 4P M J S (Hard to imagine it being any better written; Broad general YA appeal; Middle School, defined as grades 6 to 8;Junior High, defined as grades 7 to 9; Senior High, defined as grades 10 to 12). 2003, HarperCollins, 368p, Hansen <%ISBN%>0060278250
School Library Journal
Gr 7 Up-Garth Nix's trilogy comes to a dramatic and apocalyptic close, with all the clever plot twists and inventive voicings by Tim Curry that made Sabriel and Lirael (both 2002) award winners. In this segment, both Sabriel and Lirael, the latter now elevated to the powerful rank of Abhorsen (a kind of magician) in Nix's parallel world, have important roles-but so do Sabriel's son Sam, Mog the cat, and a ubiquitous and charming creature known affectionately as the "disreputable dog." Nix's imagined world seems to be situated near the time of our own turn from 19th to 20th century, the perfect backdrop for a classic theme, played out refreshingly within this story: the perils and the promises of technology. Magic, the antithesis of human ingenuity, flows both for the good and against it. The forces of evil are able to swell the ranks of their army through the recycling of dead folks into almost-invulnerable foot soldiers. Besides death and the good vs evil struggle, another folk motif brought into focus here is that of friendship: Sam's lifelong friend, Nicholas, literally must lay down his life in the course of the action. Abhorsen is an excellent denouement for a fantasy that is both literary and popularly accessible. Out loud, the powers of this future classic are intensified, especially through Curry's inspired dramatization.-Francisca Goldsmith, Berkeley Public Library, CA Copyright 2003 Reed Business Information.
Kirkus Reviews
Nix (Lirael, 2001, etc.) brings his trilogy to a literally earth-shattering conclusion. Action explodes from the very first pages as King Touchstone and Abhorsen Sabriel are targeted for assassination while on embassy to Ancelstierre. On the other side of the Wall, in the magical Old Kingdom, Prince Sameth and newly proclaimed Abhorsen-in-Waiting Lirael race frantically to rescue Sam's school friend Nick from the sinister clutches of the necromancer Hedge and his plot to unleash the Destroyer from a prison forged before the beginning of time. While the accelerating tension leaves little room for introspective character development, Lirael discards diffidence for decisiveness as she grows into her new duties, as the formerly feckless Sam, freed from the awful burden of fear, discovers confidence in his role as Wallmaker. But their mysterious Free Magic companions-the enigmatically feline Mogget and the effervescently canine Disreputable Dog-still steal the show, even as their secrets are slowly revealed. Despite constant weariness, despair, and attacks from Hedge's monstrous Dead minions, the priceless value of the Life they champion shines through small lapidary moments: a handclasp with a friend, a lick from the Dog, a shared tin of sardines. Terror, courage, bitterness, love, desperation, and sacrifice all swirl together in an apocalyptic climax that pits both Life and Death together against the destruction of everything. Even as Nix neatly ties off all the dangling plot threads, he hints that there are plenty of stories left to tell about the Old Kingdom. This one is breathtaking, bittersweet, and utterly unforgettable. (Fiction. YA)
“What makes Lirael a delight is the magic that Nix brings to his story and to his characters.”
Philip Pullman
“Sabriel is a winner, a fantasy that reads like realism. Here is a world with the same solidity and four dimensional authority as our own, created with invention, clarity, and intelligence. I congratulate Garth Nix. And I look forward to reading his next piece of work.”
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780060594985
  • Publisher: HarperCollins Publishers
  • Publication date: 8/17/2004
  • Series: Abhorsen Series , #3
  • Pages: 352
  • Age range: 12 - 17 Years
  • Product dimensions: 5.31 (w) x 8.00 (h) x 0.79 (d)

Meet the Author

Garth Nix

Garth Nix was born in 1963 in Melbourne, Australia. A full-time writer since 2001, he has worked as a literary agent, marketing consultant, book editor, book publicist, book sales representative, bookseller, and part-time soldier in the Australian Army Reserve. Garth's books include the award-winning fantasy novels Sabriel, Lirael, and Abhorsen and the cult favorite teen science fiction novel Shade's Children. His fantasy novels for younger readers include The Ragwitch, the six books of the Seventh Tower sequence, the Keys to the Kingdom series, and A Confusion of Princes. His books have appeared on the bestseller lists of the New York Times, Publishers Weekly, the Guardian, and the Australian, and his work has been translated into forty languages. He lives in Sydney, Australia, with his wife and two children.

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Read an Excerpt


By Garth Nix

Rebound by Sagebrush

Copyright ©2004 Garth Nix
All right reserved.

ISBN: 0613835727

Chapter One

A House Besieged

There was another fog, far away from the smog of Corvere. Six hundred miles to the north, across the Wall that separated Ancelstierre from the Old Kingdom. The Wall where the Old Kingdoms magic really began and Ancelstierre's modern technology failed.

This fog was different from its far-southern cousin. It was not white but the dark grey of a storm cloud, and it was completely unnatural. This fog had been spun from air and Free Magic and was born on a hilltop far from any water. It survived and spread despite the heat of a late-spring afternoon, which should have burned it into nothing.

Ignoring sun and light breezes, the fog spread from the hill and rolled south and east, thin tendrils creeping out in advance of the main body. Half a league on from the hill, one of these tendrils separated into a cloud that rose high in the air and crossed the mighty river Ratterlin. Once across, it sank to sit like a toad on the eastern bank, and new fog begun to puff out of it.

Soon the two arms of fog shrouded both western and eastern shores of the Ratterlin, though the sun still shone on the river in between.

Both river and fog sped at their very different paces towards the Long Cliffs. The river dashed along, getting faster and faster as it headed to the great waterfall,where it would plunge down more than a thousand feet. The fog was slow and threatening. It thickened and rose higher as it rolled on.

A few yards before it reached the Long Cliffs, the fog stopped, though it still grew thicker and rose higher, threatening the island that sat in the middle of the river and on the edge of the waterfall. An island with high white walls that enclosed a house and gardens.

The fog did not spread across the river, nor lean in too far as it rose. There were unseen defenses that held it back, that kept the sun shining on the white walls, the gardens, and the red-tiled house. The fog was a weapon, but it was only the first move in a battle, only the beginning of a siege. The battle lines were drawn and the House invested.

For the whole river-circled isle was Abhorsen's House. Home to the Abhorsen, whose birthright and charge was to maintain the borders of Life and Death. The Abhorsen, who used necromantic bells and Free Magic, but who was neither necromancer nor Free Magic sorcerer. The Abhorsen, who sent any Dead who trespassed in Life back to whence they came.

The creator of the fog knew that the Abhorsen was not actually in the House. The Abhorsen and her husband, the King, had been lured across the Wall and would presumably be dealt with there. That was part of her Master's plan, long since laid but only recently begun in earnest.

The plan had many parts, in many countries, though the very heart and reason for it lay in the Old Kingdom. War, assassination, and refugees were elements of the plan, all manipulated by a scheming, subtle mind that had waited generations for everything to come to fruition.

But as with any plan, there had already been complications and problems. Two of them were in the House. One was a young woman, who had been sent south by the witches who lived in the glacier-clad mountain at the Ratterlin's source. The Clayr, who Saw many futures in the ice, and who would certainly try to twist the present to their own ends. The woman was one of their elite mages, easily identified by the colored waistcoat she wore. A red waistcoat, marking her as a Second Assistant Librarian.

The maker of the fog had seen her, black haired and pale skinned, surely no older than twenty, a mere fingernail sliver of an age. She had heard the young woman's name, called out in desperate battle.


The other complication was better known, and possibly more trouble, though the evidence was conflicting. A young man, hardly more than a boy, curly haired from his father, black eyebrowed from his mother, and tall from both. His name was Sameth, the royal son of King Touchstone and the Abhorsen Sabriel.

Prince Sameth was meant to be the Abhorsen-in-Waiting, heir to the powers of The Book of the Dead and the seven bells. But the maker of the fog doubted that now. She was very old, and once she had known a great deal about the strange family and their House in the river. She had fought Sameth barely a night past, and he had not fought like an Abhorsen; even the way he cast his Charter Magic was strange, reminiscent of neither the royal line nor the Abhorsens.

Sameth and Lirael were not alone. They were supported by two creatures who appeared to be no more than a small bad-tempered white cat and a large black and tan dog of friendly disposition. Yet both were much more than they seemed, though exactly what they were was another slippery piece of information. Most likely they were Free Magic spirits of some kind, bound in service to the Abhorsen and the Clayr. The cat was known to some degree. His name was Mogget, and there was speculation about him in certain books of lore. The Dog was a different matter. She was new, or so old that any book that told of her was long since dust. The creature in the fog thought the latter. Both the young woman and her hound had come from the Great Library of the Clayr. It was likely both of them, like the Library, had hidden depths and contained unknown powers.

Together, these four could be formidable opponents, and they represented a serious threat. But the maker of the fog did not have to fight them directly, nor could she, for the House was too well guarded by both spell and swift water. Her orders were to make sure that they were trapped in the House. The House was to be besieged while matters progressed elsewhere - until it was too late for Lirael, Sam, and their companions to do anything at all.


Excerpted from Abhorsen by Garth Nix Copyright ©2004 by Garth Nix. Excerpted by permission.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.

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Table of Contents

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Customer Reviews

Average Rating 5
( 329 )
Rating Distribution

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See All Sort by: Showing 1 – 20 of 329 Customer Reviews
  • Posted September 13, 2009

    Loved this book

    I am 51 years old and I loved this series. These books are well written and interesting for anyone. The content could be frightening to a young child, but they are great books for the "young adult" or older.

    2 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted June 3, 2014

    more from this reviewer

    Sometimes wondering who you are leads you to discover you are more than you thought.

    The third book of the Abhorsen Series, where things that have been broken are mended, but not without cost, much sorrow and pain. But then nobody said being a hero was painless.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted February 12, 2014

    GAH SO GOOD. Exceptional narrating by Tim Curry too.

    GAH SO GOOD. Exceptional narrating by Tim Curry too.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted December 27, 2013

    Will read again

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  • Anonymous

    Posted September 28, 2013

    A great ending to the trilogy

    A good read. Full of suspense.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted March 6, 2013

    Not like, love

    I loved this book i have it on my nook and in paper back. This book and the other two were wonderfuly written and i will read them again with my two children

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  • Anonymous

    Posted February 19, 2013


    This is a great seris

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  • Anonymous

    Posted December 24, 2012



    0 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted November 21, 2012



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  • Anonymous

    Posted April 16, 2012

    Must read this series!

    This is one of the best trilogies i have ever read! I loved all three books and highly recommend them to anyone who loves an action packed story!

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  • Anonymous

    Posted November 15, 2011


    A great fantasy book for all ages

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  • Posted September 10, 2011

    More to come

    For those of who you crave another book, as I do, I have read that Garth Nix has two more books in the works, excluding Across The Wall. That being said this is a phenomenal series and I am extremely thankful that I decided to pick up Sabriel off the library shelves.

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  • Posted September 1, 2011


    I read these books when I was 10, and I could never put them down!! Sabriel was my favourite of the 3, but I enjoyed all of them nonetheless. Slow at some parts and lacking dialouge (from what I remember) but stilll amazing!

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  • Posted July 1, 2011

    Best series ever


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  • Posted July 1, 2011

    Wonderful, Amazingly Wonderful....

    I just finished the last page of the trilogy and i am just blown away by how much i love these books. Just like other reviewers i wish he would write another because i would love to know how their lives progress after this. I started this book because i was abit wary after reading Brandson Sandersons monster 'Way of Kings' thinking this would be a light easy read that i could put down and pick up without being consumed by the need to know what happens next but i was wrong. Although i was happy that it moved alot faster and all three books are ony around 300 pages each. Def. get this book you wont regret it, and it is not just for young adults, im 23 and a hard core epic fantasy fan and enjoyed these books just as much if not more than other books ive read by big time fantasy authors.... It is def. A story that will stick in your mind long after you have read it. I doubt there is another like it out there!!!

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  • Posted March 30, 2010

    I Also Recommend:

    Garth Nix has done it again!!!

    I literally just finished this book about half an hour ago, and I still want to cry! The series is over? Just over. Poof. Of course I can always reread it, but then I'll never have the satisfaction for the craving I have for Garth Nix and the mystery behind the Old Kingdom.

    This book is so invigorating and just so... descriptive. I really felt like I was not only in the story, but the main character! This story will be unforgettable and will inflate your heart with hope. Hope that even though we aren't going to have a giant mile-high pillar of flame explode out of a huge hunk of metal and destroy everything, we still might have someone in our lives with the bravery of the Abhorsen and Lirael. The twists and turns Garth Nix puts in his story impresses me, especially with his loving passion of his job to make a story that challenges the reader and interests the reader.

    Love it, love it, LOVE IT!

    Warning: For anyone that reads this book, you might end the trilogy being a bit disappointed, however, I'm starting to think that's another part of the Author's job. To leave the reader wanting more, even when there is no more.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted August 8, 2009

    Who needs reality when we have Garth Nix?

    Wonderfull book. A great ending to a fantastic series.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted April 17, 2009

    Great Book

    Wonderful book. Couldn't put it down...I read it in a few hours.

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  • Posted October 25, 2008

    more from this reviewer

    Reviewed by Candace Cunard for TeensReadToo.com

    If LIRAEL lacked in action compared to its predecessor, SABRIEL, ABHORSEN makes up for that by functioning as an extended climax of events from the previous book, focused around the need to find and defeat the necromancer Hedge to stop him from reawakening an old and malevolent power known simply as the Destroyer. The story picks up directly after the end of the previous book, with Lirael, Sameth, Mogget, and the Disreputable Dog in a race against time to stop Sam's school friend, Nicholas Sayre, from going through with his plans to reconnect two large metal hemispheres, which when connected will release the Destroyer. This power, also known as Orannis, was first bound when the Charter was created and is inimical to all forms of life. <BR/><BR/>ABHORSEN really feels like it ought to have been part of the end of LIRAEL, not only because the latter book is a continuation of the former in terms of plot. It might be possible for a reader to understand LIRAEL having not read SABRIEL, but ABHORSEN does not stand alone in this way. Rather, the characters, plot, and worldbuilding knowledge from the prior book is assumed by the author in this book. This isn't much of a problem, though, because Nix's writing still takes the reader on marvelous adventures. I just wouldn't advise trying to read this trilogy out of order. In fact, even reading this review without knowing the background of the series is probably difficult. <BR/><BR/>I also felt that some portions of the story moved along too quickly; I would have liked to see a mix of action and introspection, with more character development. However, in comparison to LIRAEL, whose action took place over a period of four years, the major events in ABHORSEN take place over less than a month of time. I recommend reading ABHORSEN directly after finishing LIRAEL for maximum effectiveness. <BR/><BR/>My biggest problem with this book was that it ended! While the primary concerns of the trilogy were nicely concluded, there were many new storylines and new questions posed that might have been nonessential, but that I still wanted answered--mostly because I don't think Nix is done with these characters, and I want to see more of them! I've got my fingers crossed that Nix will decide to write more short stories in this universe (the short story collection ACROSS THE WALL contains one story set in Ancelstierre), if not more novels. I'd be willing to read anything he'll write!

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  • Posted December 9, 2008

    more from this reviewer

    a terrific young adult fantasy

    The Dead Chlorr of the Mask has captured by enchantment Lirael an Abhorsen-in-Waiting, her nephew Prince Sameth, her companion the enigmatic Disreputable Dog and the mysterious white cat Mogget. They need to escape but the spell makes it difficult as their evil host has the support of the powerful malevolent necromancer Hedge.-------------- The quartet escapes anyway and manages to rescue Sameth's friend, Nicholas Sayre, but seemingly too late to prevent him from exhuming the remains of Orannis, the Destroyer. Hedge's plan seems on the verge of fruition, as the hemispheres begin to converge if they merge, evil will win and all life destroyed. The heroic quartet must first find a way to destroy the Destroyer if Hedge¿s Death scheme is to be stopped.---------------- This sequel to SABRIEL and LIRAEL is a terrific young adult fantasy that begins to answer questions from the previous tales such as what is the Disreputable Dog while also providing the audience with a wonderful good vs. bad thriller. The contrast between dismal wretched realm of Death and those necromancers who want to bring it to the moral plane vs. the optimism of the band of champions enhances the tension as the good dudes seem too innocent to hold their own against their malevolent adversaries. It behooves newcomers to read the first two books to see how the opponents got to this point although Garth Nix provides an interwoven backdrop. Fans will appreciate this superb entry as all bets are on Hedge and Destroyer.--------- Harriet Klausner

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