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Lirael
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Gr 7 Up-Lirael has never fit in with her hundreds of cousins, the Clayr. Orphaned, lonely, shy, and painfully aware of her physical differences from them, she also lacks their Sight of the future. However, when her skill with magic and her companion, the Disreputable Dog, help her accomplish a quest foreseen hundreds of years before, the Clayr entrust her with an even more perilous search. Elsewhere in the Old Kingdom, Prince Sameth, son of King Touchstone and the Abhorsen Sabriel, is convinced he is unfit for his inherited duties. Slated to succeed his mother in protecting the Kingdom from the ravages of the Dead, he finds that his first journey into Death has left him too frightened to return. Despite his fears, he sets out to rescue a friend headed into danger. Lirael's and Sameth's paths converge, and they learn more about their pasts and the nature of the Old Kingdom's magic as they continue their quest together. While less immediately appealing than Sabriel, the heroine of Nix's first book about the Old Kingdom, (HarperCollins, 1996), the two teen protagonists share a mixture of insecurity and courage that will speak to adolescent readers. The fast-paced plot is packed with harrowing encounters with necromancers and magical foes. Nix continues to unfold the mysteries of the Old Kingdom, exploring the haunting and unusual, exhaustively and flawlessly conceived connections among its rulers and guardians, and the magic that infuses them all. A must-read for fans of the first book, Lirael will also fascinate readers new to the series.-Beth Wright, Fletcher Free Library, Burlington, VT Copyright 2001 Cahners Business Information.

In Nix's sequel to Sabriel, readers return to the entrancing and complicated Old Kingdom: a world of necromancy, seers, dangerous monsters and talking animals (the cat Mogget is back). The relationships between the Kingdom's various realms and the magic may take some unraveling for readers new to the series, but the heroine's plight will be instantly compelling. Lirael is the only one of a community of clairvoyant women not to be gifted with "the Sight," and the mystery of her parentage contributes to her alienation. Just after her 14th birthday, Lirael releases a Stilken (half-woman, half-crustacean) from a glass-covered coffin. Her act leads to a meeting with a healer (Lirael's great-great-grandmother) who fortifies her and urges her to take as her only friend the impertinent "Disreputable Dog," a creature of suspicious magical origin whose true nature remains unknown. The overall plot may follow the expected course an evil magician threatens the well-being of the Old Kingdom and Lirael finds her destiny linked with that of handsome, nervous Prince Sameth (son of Sabriel) but startling subplots abound and keep the pages turning. The book ends on a cliffhanger, and Nix leaves nearly every major question unanswered. The evil is still at large, the Disreputable Dog still unexplained and Lirael's mother's desertion of her unresolved. Readers hoping for a satisfying ending will have to wait for the third in the series, to be titled Abhorsen, and tentatively scheduled for fall 2002. Ages 12-up. (Apr.) Copyright 2001 Cahners Business Information.

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