I had no idea there was a new Old Kingdom book coming out. I had a very pleasant surprise when it came out as a Kindle daily deal (bought that, and then promptly bought the hardcover as well – this is one of the few series I’ll buy in hardcover.)
This book picks up with what’s happening in the Old Kingdom, during the events of “Nicholas Sayre and the Creature in the Case” (which happens in Ancelstierre). Lirael is settling into life in Belisaere as part of the royal family (since her sister Sabriel is the queen). She’s growing into her role as Abhorsen-in-Waiting, and it’s nice to see the events the lead up to her rescuing Nicholas at the Wall.
As Nick crosses the wall into the Old Kingdom, it’s clear that his possession by Orannis is still impacting him. Lirael quickly realizes that the best place to bring him will be the Clayr’s Glacier where she can consult the Great Library, and find out what’s happening to Nick. She hasn’t been back to the Glacier since she found out she was an Abhorsen. It’s not a trip she’s looking forward to.
At the same time, a young woman is coming from the north, with a message for Lirael from her long dead mother. Ferin is from the nomadic tribes of the north, where all the tribes must sacrifice a girl to the Witch with No Face. Ferin is the offering for her tribe. Something has changed about the witch, and Ferin has fled to the south in great danger to warn Lirael and the rest of the Old Kingdom.
Lirael and her family quickly realize that the Witch with No Face is Chlorr, who was turned into one of the greater Dead by Orannis. Something has been keeping her anchored to life, and Sabriel and Lirael realize that Ferin’s information will help them end Chlorr once and for all.
It was nice to see Lirael and everyone else again, and to get some nice endings to a number of hanging threads left at the end of Abhorsen. There’s no clear story left that needs to be told, but there are openings if the author decides to explore them.