Lirael is a bit odd when it comes to a sequel. While it’s set in the same world as Sabriel (and Sabriel even has a part to play), Lirael takes place a fair few years later, following two new characters: Lirael–daughter of the glacier bound seers only mentioned in Sabriel–and Prince Sameth–Sabriel and Touchstone’s son and Abhorsen in Waiting.
Once you get beyond the initial surprise at the change in topic, it’s another wonderful book. I’m honestly not sure which I prefer. Lirael is a wonderful character. She’s an outsider among an entire people who have an ability she does not, which is a recognizable situation to be in who turns into what’s effectively a battle librarian–who doesn’t love a battle librarian?
Sameth on the other hand? He’s mostly annoying. It’s understandable to some extent since he’s young and has quite a pair of shoes to fill in either parent, let alone both. Doesn’t mean his sections are a lot harder to read than Lireal’s…
Perhaps my favorite part of the book is how much deeper the world building feels than in Sabriel. Sabriel did an excellent job of building a fantastic world and introducing us to the Death magic an Abhorsen wields. Lireal takes that and expands us, exploring the Clayr and the builders, along with looking more into the Charter / Charter Stones / Free Magic. As a world building junkie… I love it.
The only other negative I have is that Lirael really doesn’t stand alone. You don’t absolutely have to have read Sabriel (although you should), but Lirael by itself doesn’t really have an ending. It’s more the first part of a story.
Well well worth the read though. Or, if you get the chance, the listen.