Published by HarperCollins on October 4th 2016
Series: Abhorsen #5
Genres: Young Adult, Fantasy
For everyone and everything there is a time to die.
Lirael is no longer a shy Second Assistant Librarian. She is the Abhorsen-in-Waiting, with Dead creatures to battle and Free Magic entities to bind. She’s also a Remembrancer, wielder of the Dark Mirror. Lirael lost one of her hands in the binding of Orannis, but now she has a new hand, one of gilded steel and Charter Magic.
When Lirael finds Nicholas Sayre lying unconscious after being attacked by a hideous Free Magic creature, she uses her powers to save him. But Nicholas is deeply tainted with Free Magic. Fearing it will escape the Charter mark that seals it within his flesh and bones, Lirael seeks help for Nick at her childhood home, the Clayr’s Glacier.
But even as Lirael and Nick return to the Clayr, a young woman from the distant North braves the elements and many enemies in a desperate attempt to deliver a message to Lirael from her long-dead mother, Arielle. Ferin brings a dire warning about the Witch With No Face. But who is the Witch, and what is she planning?
Once more a great danger threatens the Old Kingdom, and it must be forestalled not only in the living world but also in the cold, remorseless river of Death.
This is the fifth book in the Abhorsen series and I would highly recommend reading at least the first three before starting this book (the fourth is technically a prequel). You can read this book without reading those but you’ll be missing a lot of background story and character development. I also believe that the world-building and magic in the original trilogy (and this book) is some of the best I’ve read.
Since I’ve read the original trilogy more times than I can count (Sabriel and Lirael were my go-to books in high school), opening Goldenhand felt like returning home. All of my favorite characters were there, although some have had diminishing roles as the series continues. To me, this book felt similar to a changing of the guards as it created endings for some characters and introduced new ones (or ones that will have may have a larger role if the series progresses).
Lirael has been one of my favorite literary characters since she was first introduced (probably because she’s both a bookworm and a dog person). When she visited the Clayr, seeing the contrast between who she has become was amazing. Although she does still retain that unfortunate propensity for accidents.
The only negative of this novel for me was that I didn’t feel as if the characters developed quite as much in this novel as in previous ones. That may have been due to the fact that Nix was trying to wrap up so many of the storylines. Additionally, this book was significantly shorter than Lirael and Sabriel, although I think it could very easily have been the same length if not longer.
Without the nostalgia I felt toward the Old Kingdom, I’m not sure how I would have rated this novel. What was nice is that the ends of all previous stories were tied together in a way that still left room open for future stories in this world (which hopefully will be closer to the magic of the original trilogy). Also, just in case you need any more persuading to read the original trilogy, Sarah J. Maas, Leigh Bardugo, AND Brandon Sanderson are all fans.