The Old Kingdom #2


  • Media: #Books #Books 2021
    • Author: Garth Nix
    • Date: 2021-03-13
    • Tags: #read #fantasy #ya #fiction


This was half a book and the half that is there is like two or three separate ideas that have been jammed together.

A book dedicated to Lirael exploring this dangerous fantasy library and saving the world from some evil locked within (leading to the discovery of her true nature, which would leave room for the next book) could be a standalone and enjoyable novel. A scared prince suffering PTSD running from his duty while struggling with his place between two worlds could also be a standalone novel. Two misfits of their respective societies/lineages, one fighting for acceptance the other running from their inheritance, uniting to take on a great evil could also be a novel. Instead we get all three half-done and never fight the great evil. I assume that is coming in book 3 but honestly, the whole thing left me deeply unsatisfied and quite disappointed considering how surprisingly enjoyable B-Sabriel was and the waste of some nice premises.

Unfortunately, I also disliked both main characters. They had all the building blocks of interesting people with conflicts but the actual expression of those themes never went past the surface level and felt overly simplistic. The book touches upon heavy themes (PTSD, Liraeal’s suicidal ideation, mass murder, a refugee crisis) but then reverted to more classic children’s book style characterisation and execution which left me wishing they hadn’t been in there at all. I ended up pausing about halfway through the book (a bit before the two characters meet up) and picking it up again about a month later, if that tells you anything.

Will I read the third one? Probably because I made the mistake of scooping all three when they were on sale because I liked Sabriel. Otherwise, though, probably not. If you’re going to read one, stick to Sabriel.


  • “What?” “Mmm, just thinking,” whispered Mogget. “You should try it sometimes. Wake me in the morning. It may be quite difficult.”
  • "I write outlines for the fun of departing from them later on."
  • “That’s the problem with growing up as a Prince,” growled Mogget. “You always think that everything will get worked out for you. Or you turn out like your sister and think nothing gets done unless you do it. It’s a wonder any of you are ever any use at all.”
  • “Choosers will be beggars if the begging’s not their choosing,” said the Dog.
  • "But I’d rather be afraid and do something than just sit and wait for terrible things to happen."

Scrapbook Concepts

  • the rotten, reedy shores of the Red Lake #locations
  • Necromancer with belt of ebony bells #fragments
  • Necromancer going around and binding lesser necromancers to their will
  • "She wore a mask of dull bronze, and the heavy furs of the Northern barbarians. Unnecessary, and uncomfortable, in this weather... unless her skin felt something other than the sun." #fragments
  • the Voice of the Nine Day Watch #factions
  • A small glacier town whose primary business is to look into the future (or numerous possible futures). #locations
  • "The Library was shaped like a nautilus shell, a continuous tunnel that wound down into the mountain in an ever-tightening spiral."
  • large parties of armed librarians #factions #characters
  • "There was also a long, silver-bladed sword on the desk, unsheathed, with its hilt close to the Librarian’s hand." #characters
  • The Black Book of Bibliomancy #artefacts #magic
  • Her dreaming room #rooms
  • The lair of the chief librarian #locations #rooms #dungeon
  • a practical primer for the beginning shapewearer #artefacts #magic
  • “The Door just said hello,” #creatures
  • "Generations of dead, carefully tucked away in this vertical cemetery." #locations
  • Two lands, divided by wall. One is a full season ahead of the other. Occasionally match up. Need almanac.
  • Clairvoyant who sees backward. Sees into the past. "You may not See, but you will Remember. And in the Remembering, you will see the hidden past that holds the secrets of the future." #magic
  • the Dark Mirror that lets you see into the past #artefacts
  • Creatures which appear in areas after a fight if blood is left around #creatures
  • "Gore Crows were always created in flocks, made from ordinary crows killed with ritual and ceremony, then infused with the splintered fragments of just one Dead spirit." #creatures
  • “Sleeper, Waker, Walker, Speaker, Thinker, Binder and Weeper,” - the bells #magic
  • A magical construct with the flesh of swine, captain in a plumed hat, masquerading as the captain with a foul odour. #creatures
  • A house with magical servants (sendings). Every owner makes more so there are tons. Some hundreds or thousands of years old. And senile. #locations #creatures
  • Clueless noble working with necromancer --> "We had quite a lot of trouble hiring local workers at first, till Hedge hit upon the idea of recruiting from what I understand to be a lazaret or leper colony of sorts. The workers from there are quite able-bodied but shockingly disfigured, and they smell atrocious." #characters