Picking up right where book #2’s cliffhangery ending left off, Garth Nix brings us the satisfying conclusion to his Abhorsen series.
As we learned in the last book, Lireal is now the newly minted Abhorsen in waiting. She is also Sam’s aunt, as it turns out. (Take THAT, possible romantic subplot!) And since Queen Sabriel and King Touchstone are nowhere to be found, it looks as though averting the end of the world must fall entirely to this ill-prepared duo and their furry familiars. As their plotlines were finally joined in the last book, we aren’t shown as much of what is going on elsewhere in the world. But readers are given occasional scenes from the POV of the semi-possessed Nick, and a bit from the king and queen.
The somewhat reluctant character growth we began to see in the last book is accelerated. Both Lireal and Sam are pushed into showing competence in their newly acquired skills, while discovering how their roles in this end game are actually complemented by the more innate abilities (which they had previously assumed useless.) There is also, thankfully, far less whining going on between the two of them.
I’m happy to report that Mogget is still, ever endearingly, Mogget.
"Remember I advised against this way," he instructed. "Wake me when whatever terrible thing is about to happen happens, or if it appears I might get wet.”
For those waiting with bated breath to learn the origin of both Mogget and The Disreputable Dog… you will not be disappointed. It may be as you already suspect (thanks to some adequate foreshadowing amid the worldbuilding of book #2), but that aspect will not be left unanswered.
Personally, I would have liked to see more on the reveal regarding Sam’s nature. It is concluded that his role is a “Builder”—an extension of the peoples who originally constructed the magical buffer wall between the Old Kingdom and the rest of the world. He has a part to play, to be sure… but that part often feels like a handy afterthought. And it isn’t really explained how he ended up as a Builder in the first place (though, comingling of the Clayr, Abhorsen, and Royal bloodlines is clearly something of a theme.)
Overall though, this was a solid read. And an above-par bookend (literally) to this medium-fantasy series.