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Across the Wall: A Tale of the Abhorsen and Other Stories

Across the Wall: A Tale of the Abhorsen and Other Stories

4.1 61
by Garth Nix

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Nicholas Sayre will do anything to get across the Wall, back to the Old Kingdom.

Thoughts of Lirael and Sam haunt his dreams, and he has come to realize that his destiny lies there, along with all those he cares for. But here in Ancelstierre, far south of the Wall, the Charter is dormant, and among the obstacles Nick faces is one that is not entirely human,


Nicholas Sayre will do anything to get across the Wall, back to the Old Kingdom.

Thoughts of Lirael and Sam haunt his dreams, and he has come to realize that his destiny lies there, along with all those he cares for. But here in Ancelstierre, far south of the Wall, the Charter is dormant, and among the obstacles Nick faces is one that is not entirely human, and which has a strange power that seems to come from Nicholas himself.

With "Nicholas Sayre and the Creature in the Case," Garth Nix continues to explore the magical world of The Abhorsen Trilogy. In additional short stories that range from classic fantasy -- two widely different takes on the Merlin myth -- to a gritty urban version of Hansel and Gretel, to an unusual take on the role of nature in matters of love, and to a heartbreaking story of children and war, Garth Nix displays the range and versatility that have made him one of today's leading writers of fantasy for readers of all ages.

Editorial Reviews

In this aptly titled collection, the author of the Keys to the Kingdom trilogy ventures into numerous settings, genres, and tones. Across the Wall includes an urban fairy tale and an unworldly western; perhaps more important to fans, it contains a never-before-published novella set in the realm of Abhorsen. Nix's skill at characterization is evident throughout this gathering.
Publishers Weekly
Garth Nix fans will enjoy the author's preface to Across the Wall: A Tale of the Abhorsen and Other Stories, which offers insight into his writing process, almost as much as the dozen tales offered in the collection (all previously published), plus a novella set in the Old Kingdom of his Abhorsen Trilogy ("Nicholas Sayre and the Creature in the Case"). Nix offers a brief introduction to the pieces, which range from a game of sorts, "Down to the Scum Quarter: A Farcical Fantasy Solo Adventure," with a comical set of rules, to a haunting retelling of Hansel and Gretel. Copyright 2005 Reed Business Information.
School Library Journal
Gr 8 Up-Twelve short stories and one novella are stitched together with the popular Australian author's commentary on his writing life. Nix includes one choose-your-own-adventure type story, "Down to the Scum Quarter." A spoof on the genre, it takes place primarily in a bordello and is rife with literary and role-play allusions, but lacks a satisfying story arc. Other selections, more traditional in format, include a disturbingly gory and unforgettable "Hansel and Gretel" set in a dark cityscape, two spin-offs from Arthurian legend, and a Western fantasy that owes more to the movies than to history. In the novella, "Nicholas Sayre and the Creature in the Case," the scion of a political family wants nothing more than to cross the forbidden Wall and be reunited with his friends in the Old Kingdom, where magic is practiced and understood. To that end, Nicholas agrees to engage in espionage for his powerful uncle, only to be swept up in a terrifying scenario as a mummified monster is brought to life with his blood. Readers of the author's bestselling "Abhorsen" trilogy (Morrow/Avon) will find themselves right at home in this horror/fantasy/mystery but those new to this world will find the first pages slow going as they try to piece together the nature of the alternative reality and to identify offstage characters and events. At times self-indulgent (the text of the author's first book, written at age six, is included in his notes), this collection will nonetheless delight true fans.-Carolyn Lehman, Humboldt State University, Arcata, CA Copyright 2005 Reed Business Information.
Kirkus Reviews
The opening story of this collection, a 90-page novella, is the lure for the many fans of Nix's The Abhorsen Trilogy-Sabriel, Lirael and Abhorsen. "Nicholas Sayre and the Creature in the Case" features one of the rarest of the Free Magic creatures from the Old Kingdom, a monster with whom young Nicholas Sayre has a mysterious connection. In a grand fantasy adventure tale, Nicholas must get the beast back to the Old Kingdom, ultimately enlisting the aid of Lirael. Other stories-some previously published in other anthologies-are a mixed bag of pieces written over the last 15 years. They include new takes on Arthurian tales, a moving war story inspired by the current Iraq war and a memorable retelling of "Hansel and Gretel" titled "Hansel's Eyes," the tale most likely to "linger uncomfortably in the mind" long after the first reading. Fans will eagerly anticipate this volume and find a nice range of writing from one of the leading fantasy writers at work today. (introduction) (Fiction. 12+)

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Across the Wall

A Tale of the Abhorsen and Other Stories
By Garth Nix

HarperCollins Publishers, Inc.

Copyright © 2006 Garth Nix
All right reserved.

ISBN: 0060747145

Chapter One

Nicholas Sayre and the Creature in the Case

"I am going back to the Old Kingdom, Uncle," said Nicholas Sayre. "Whatever Father may have told you. So there is no point in your trying to fix me up with a suitable Sayre job or a suitable Sayre marriage. I am coming with you to what will undoubtedly be a horrendous house party only because it will get me a few hundred miles closer to the Wall."

Nicholas's uncle Edward, more generally known as The Most Honorable Edward Sayre, Chief Minister of Ancelstierre, shut the red-bound letter book he was reading with more emphasis than he intended, as their heavily armored car lurched over a hump in the road. The sudden clap of the book made the bodyguard in front look around, but the driver kept his eyes on the narrow country lane.

"Have I said anything about a job or a marriage?" Edward enquired, gazing down his long, patrician nose at his nineteen-year-old nephew. "Besides, you won't even get within a mile of the Perimeter without a pass signed by me, let alone across the Wall."

"I could get a pass from Lewis," said Nicholas moodily, referring to the newly anointed Hereditary Arbiter. The previous Arbiter, Lewis's grandfather, had died of a heart attack during Corolini's attempted coup d'état half a year before.

"No, you couldn't, and you know it," saidEdward. "Lewis has more sense than to involve himself in any aspect of government other than the ceremonial."

"Then I'll have to cross over without a pass," declared Nicholas angrily, not even trying to hide the frustration that had built up in him over the past six months, during which he'd been forced to stay in Ancelstierre. Most of that time spent wishing he'd left with Lirael and Sam in the immediate aftermath of the Destroyer's defeat, instead of deciding to recuperate in Ancelstierre. It had been weakness and fear that had driven his decision, combined with a desire to put the terrible past behind him. But he now knew that was impossible. He could not ignore the legacy of his involvement with Hedge and the Destroyer, nor his return to Life at the hands -- or paws -- of the Disreputable Dog. He had become someone else, and he could only find out who that was in the Old Kingdom.

"You would almost certainly be shot if you try to cross illegally," said Edward. "A fate you would richly deserve. Particularly since you are not giving me the opportunity to help you. I do not know why you or anyone else would want to go to the Old Kingdom -- my year on the Perimeter as General Hort's ADC certainly taught me the place is best avoided. Nor do I wish to annoy your father and hurt your mother, but there are certain circumstances in which I might grant you permission to cross the Perimeter."

"What! Really?"

"Yes, really. Have I ever taken you or any other of my nephews or nieces to a house party before?"

"Not that I know -- "

"Do I usually make a habit of attending parties given by someone like Alastor Dorrance in the middle of nowhere?"

"I suppose not. . . ."

"Then you might exercise your intelligence to wonder why you are here with me now."

"Gatehouse ahead, sir," interrupted the bodyguard as the car rounded a sweeping corner and slowed down. "Recognition signal is correct."

Edward and Nicholas leaned forward to look through the open partition and the windscreen beyond. A few hundred yards in front, a squat stone gatehouse lurked just off the road, with its two wooden gates swung back. Two slate-gray Heddon-Hare roadsters were parked, one on either side of the gate, with several mackintosh-clad, weapon-toting men standing around them. One of the men waved a yellow flag in a series of complicated movements that Edward clearly understood and Nicholas presumed meant all was well.

"Proceed!" snapped the Chief Minister. Their car slowed more, the driver shifting down through the gears with practiced double-clutching. The mackintosh-clad men saluted as the car swung off the road and through the gate, dropping their salute as the rest of the motorcade followed. Six motorcycle policemen were immediately behind, then another two cars identical to the one that carried Nicholas and his uncle, then another half dozen police motorcyclists, and finally four trucks that were carrying a company of fully armed soldiery. Corolini's attempted putsch had failed, and there had surprisingly been no further trouble from the Our Country Party since, but the government continued to be nervous about the safety of the nation's Chief Minister.

"So, what is going on?" asked Nicholas. "Why are you here? And why am I here? Is there something you want me to do?"

"At last, a glimmer of thought. Have you ever wondered what Alastor Dorrance actually does, other than come to Corvere three or four times a year and exercise his eccentricities in public?"

"Isn't that enough?" asked Nick with a shudder. He remembered the newspaper stories from the last time Dorrance had been in the city, only a few weeks before. He'd hosted a picnic on Holyoak Hill for every apprentice in Corvere and supplied them with fatty roast beef, copious amounts of beer, and a particularly cheap and nasty red wine, with predictable results.

"Dorrance's eccentricities are all show," said Edward. "Misdirection. He is in fact the head of Department Thirteen. Dorrance Hall is the Department's main research facility."

"But Department Thirteen is just a made-up thing, for the moving pictures. It doesn't really exist . . . um . . . does it?"

"Officially, no. In actuality, yes. Every state has need of spies. Department Thirteen trains and manages ours, and carries out various tasks ill suited to the more regular branches of government. It is watched over quite carefully, I assure you."

"But what has that got to do with me?"

"Department Thirteen observes all our neighbors very successfully, and has detailed files on everyone and everything important within those countries. With one notable exception. The Old Kingdom...


Excerpted from Across the Wall by Garth Nix Copyright © 2006 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.

Meet the Author

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; Clariel, a prequel in the Abhorsen series; the cult favorite teen science fiction novel Shade's Children; and his critically acclaimed collection of short stories, To Hold the Bridge. 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 in forty languages. He lives in Sydney, Australia, with his wife and two children.

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Across the Wall: A Tale of the Abhorsen and Other Stories 4.1 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 61 reviews.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This is a vibrant collection of Garth Nix's short stories. The novella about Nick Sayre is a thrilling addition to the Abhorsen trilogy, while the rest of his stories are extremely diverse. It ranges from fairy tales to Arthurian legend to entirely new ideas. Yet even the material inspired by outside sources are incredibly unique, such as a modernized version of Hansel and Gretel or a completely new way of looking at Merlin and the Lady of the Lake. This collection is perfect for anyone who enjoys Nix, Arthurian legend, fairy tales, or the fantasy genre in general. Nix also provides brief introductions to each story, so readers can also get a glimpse into the writing process and where inspiration comes from.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
In its own way the novella is the perfect wrap up of the series, even if it wasn't intended for that purpose in the first place. We see how Nick and Lirael have transfered back into normal life after the traumatic events brought around by the joining of the hemispheres. Hey, there's even a little fluff flirting which is both hilarious and adorable. The other stories are just as wonderful with my personal favorite being down to scum quarter. The range of Garth Nix's ability is astounding. A wonderful collection worth a read or two or three.
Guest More than 1 year ago
Lots of people seem to think that this was meant to be part of the Abhorsen Trilogy. IT WAS NOT! It is a collection of short stories, and just because they aren't about Sabriel or Lirael does not make them bad. I thought most of them to be very excellent. Read with an open mind.
Guest More than 1 year ago
The novella about Nick was great! I know people are upset that it wasn't another book for the abhorsen triliogy (hint: the are three, not 4, books in a trilogy), but a novella is just a fun addendum the author decided to add. THe other stories in the volume are well thought out and clever, especially the charlie rabbit one.
Guest More than 1 year ago
Like some of the other reviewers, I was in tears when I heard that there was going to be another book, I was ecsatic. I was really sorry that the Abhorsen book was such a cliff hanger, it practically killed me. I am so glad that he has written another story, even if it is just a novella. ~ Piper~
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"What's wrong?" She asked softly.
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He hummed.
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Awesome read it!
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