starting Abhorsen discussion

Abe Gross argross at
Tue Apr 15 09:00:51 EDT 2003

Kyla wrote:

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> (This isn't going to be a terribly comprehensible discussion-starter; I'm
> pretty much just babbling. In paragraph form. :^)
> One of the things that dragged me into _Sabriel_ was how fully realized
> the world was, and how different it seemed from other stuff. The
> bells--nifty! Death as a land is something that's been done before, but it
> all just seemed so real. Also, I usually don't do well with scary stories,
> but I don't like it if a story says "and now our characters are in danger!
> yes, they really are," and I'm thinking, "um, no, they're going to be
> fine." With all three books here, I was genuinely worried but happy about
> the scariness.

 I liked the dark aspect of _Sabriel_, though I think that may be why a
friend of mine didn't like the book (as I've explained before, she didn't
say why). The river of Death is reminiscent of Styx and other mythological
images of death. But I also liked the way the harsh picture of death was
softened in _Abhorsen_. I like the way the final Gate is depicted--not a cop
out, but not as bleak and hopeless as the picture previously offered of
endless cold water and despair.

> It's really kind of weird to try to discuss _Abhorsen_ without _Lirael_ at
> least--the last three sentences or so of _Lirael_ just shouted "oh, heck,
> my publisher said to end the book here, so I'm throwing in some summary
> sentences." I was extremely happy that I could just say "eh, whatever,
> I've got the next book now."
> Poor Sam. Poor, depressed,
> needing-to-talk-to-his-parents-who-are-never-there Sam. His sister was
> doing what she thought was right, pushing him into doing things, but it
> really wasn't what he needed. He was traumatized! With scars! And no
> parents!

This aspect of the book bothered me a little. I wasn't completely convinced
by the way Sabriel and Touchstone simply *assumed* that Sam was the next
Abhorsen from early childhood, though it does become more understandable
once the events of the book are actually taking place, as they are so
beleagured and away from home so often.

> The Dog is highly nifty. In contrast to Mogget, whom I never really
> trusted (well, duh, what with the "death to Abhorsens" mindset), the Dog's
> mystery seemed like it would be something relevant-yet-not-bad, and
> indeed, it was.

I must admit I actually cottoned on to who Mogget and the Dog really were
(more or less) quite early in the book. In fact, I didn't find any aspect of
the book wildly unpredictable, but that didn't affect my enjoyment of the
book at all.

> It took me a while to guess that Lirael was Sabriel's half-sister; I think
> it was finally when Sam was thinking "gee, she looks familiar," and I said
> "OH!" and flipped back to the description of Lirael's parents, and said,
> "yes, 'grown daughter about your age' would be an eighteen-year-old
> Sabriel, uh huh." It made things a bit...tidy, but it was also pretty
> clear that Sam could never be an Abhorsen.
> Nick. Ah, Nick. He's such a non-character for most of the book (I was fond
> of him just because of the bits in Sam's very first section in _Lirael_)
> that I was not surprised at all that he didn't die. Because I was
> surprised that he did die, and then thought "but death doesn't necessarily
> mean that here!" and then thought "but dying and not being dead is Bad, we
> have learned this!" and while I'm happy he's alive, it's just a bit too
> pleasing. Does anyone know if Nix is planning more books in this world?
> I liked it that the Dog gave a bit of What Is to Come, but it's better if
> there's a real book about stuff.

I really liked Nick as a character, very British, very cerebral. He's so
basically decent and doesn't stand a chance.


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