The Lost Daughter of the Clayr: Lirael by Garth Nix
For those of you who have yet to come across the internationally acclaimed author Garth Nix, you are certainly missing out on a big bucket of deliciously chewy treats: a fantastic fantasy series aptly named The Old Kingdom Trilogy, featuring all things good, bad and witty. Starting with Sabriel, originally a stand-alone novel, Nix penned his two sequels Lirael and Abhorsen with such attentive delicacy that it is certainly hard to imagine my life without the story revolving around Lirael.
I can hear the cliché bells ringing when I say that this story changed my childhood.
But whether you choose to believe me or not, I respected the fictional character of Lirael. In a world where everything presents itself as fake, selfish and image based, the character of Lirael represented the opposite of the popular trend.
Lirael is an outcast, a social reject and unable to find her way in the Clayr’s Glacier of the Old Kingdom.
The Clayr are a group of partial-seeing, partial-knowing residents of Nix’s fantasy world, who stumble their way through life consistently confused, never knowing which path to take. To see the future the Clayr must group together to produce a ‘whole’ picture, but even then all they See are fragments of a vision that may or may not happen.
Lirael does not have the Sight, nor is it likely that she will receive the Sight for a long time. She is 14 and contemplating death over a sheer cliff-face.
Being only a year older than Lirael at the time of reading this, I understood her situation. My Nana had died and left me with a Mum who couldn’t stand, let alone eat or look after me. Plus, I had an overwhelming feeling that I just didn’t belong in this world – that I should be there with Lirael, standing on the brink of doom and destruction. I connected with Nix’s character so well, and being at an impressionable young age, I began to think I was the character, living her solitary life.
Undeniably, Nix is a great writer; he made me feel that life was worth living, even if it was to only read his books, and other great writers from the past. My love of fantasy fiction began as an 11 year-old sapling with Tolkien’s The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings, to then flower with Philip Pullman and eventually blossom with Garth Nix’s work.
Sabriel began its life as a passionate sapling and grew throughout its 366 page term, to then flower into the compelling Lirael, and end on the beautiful blossoms of Abhorsen.
As I found my way, Lirael also found hers, begging the simple question:
‘Does the walker choose the path, or the path the walker?’ – Garth Nix