Monday, February 18, 2008
Across the Wall: A Tale of the Abhorsen and Other Stories
Across the Wall: A Tale of the Abhorsen and Other Stories by Garth Nix
First Published: 2005
Comments: This is a collection of 12 short stories and 1 novella by the author, each previously published in one format or another. The best of the collection is the title story, a novella set in the world of the Abhorsen trilogy and a direct sequel to the third book, Abhorsen. The other stories vary, some I really liked, others did nothing for me. Generally, Nix's writing is grim and dark and it is these stories that I enjoyed. The few stories that were light or humourous just did not entertain me at all. I highly recommend the reading of the title story for fans of the trilogy. The rest of the stories may be enjoyed by those who have read most of Nix's other work.
#1 - Nicholas Sayre and the Creature in the Case - This 95-page novella starts shortly after the events of the book Abhorsen. Nicholas Sayre is recuperating in Ancelstierre at the home of an acquaintance of his father's. He soon finds that the body of a Free Magic creature is stored in the underground rooms. The creature is not dead though and soon finds the strength to return to life but he has a craving for blood. Nicholas must stop the beast before he kills them all. This was a wonderful, fast-paced read that gave the reader greater insight into Nicholas' character. An appearance by Lireal at the end is a delight. I don't think the story would make much sense to anyone who hasn't read the trilogy though.
#2 - Under the Lake - An Arthurian tale of the Lady in the Lake. A quiet, lyrical story that tells of how the lady, who is not really a lady at all, ended up in the lake. This was just ok, different but nothing special.
#3. Charlie Rabbit - This was a very grim story of children in wartime. A boy and his little brother, along with his toy rabbit, are alone when their house is bombed in the middle of the night. A chilling tale.
#4. From the Lighthouse - This was a bit strange and I'm not sure I really got it. A man arrives on an island and tells the residents that he has just bought the island and is now their new owner. His guide pretends to be happy for him but has other plans in mind.
#5. The Hill - A boy rushes off to tell his great-great-grandfather that his father is selling the family property. So the old man rushes off to prevent it. Another good one.
#6. Lightning Bringer - A man comes to town wielding a terrible power. He realizes that a boy can see his power and is just like him. He tells the boy he must use his power before he loses it. There is more to the story but it would give it away to say more. I liked this one, it was pretty cool.
#7. Down to the Scum Quarter - This was a lot of fun! A parody of the choose your own adventure books, you must rescue your beloved who has been kidnapped and taken to the seedy part of town. My first try, I made three moves and ended up dead. Then I started over and made it through to the end alive. I used to be addicted to these books as a kid so this was really fun for me.
#8. Heart's Desire - In this story we learn the reasons behind the Merlin/Nimue story of Arthurian legend. Merlin is my favourite Arthurian character and the Merlin/Nimue relationship intrigues me but this story fell flat with me. It was just overall, rather boring.
#9. Hansel's Eyes - A retelling of the Hansel and Gretel story with a modern twist. The witch entices children not with candy but with PlayStation games and systems, nor does she wish to eat the children but rather sells their parts for organ transplants. This was very good and one of my favourites.
#10. Hope Chest - This is one of the longer stories in the book and aside from the title novella, my favourite story in the book. This is set in a quasi wild west/alternate USA world. A baby is found abandoned in a small town. One family adopts her and she grows up to be a young lady. The baby was found with a large hope chest but no one has ever been able to open it. Upon the girl's 16th birthday, the chest opens for her and the girl's destiny starts to unravel as she must save the town from an evil that is taking over the world. This was really good and one of those stories you want more of and wish there were a whole book.
#11. My New Really Epic Fantasy Series - This is a humourous speech the author has given several times that is a parody of epic fantasy series. I didn't find it particularly funny.
#12. Three Roses - Very short, sweet fairy tale about a gardener who grows roses with the love of his dead wife.
#13. Endings - Another very short story. A vampire tells how, in the end, he was killed. The last two stories were short but I enjoyed them both.