The two main characters introduced in the previous book, Lirael and Prince Sameth, have now accepted their respective legacies and fate in what is to become a fight for the survival of the very world itself. Finally, we have a lot more action, a lot less moping and some solid character growth with two young protagonists, both who have vast potential stemming from their unique bloodlines. There is also a third point-of-view which surfaced more regularly in this volume - Nicholas, a friend of the Prince from beyond the Wall to the south, who has fallen into the hands of the enemy and was manipulated in bringing forth ancient powers. Braving the overwhelming odds stacked against them, Lirael and Sam, together with the Disreputable Dog and Mogget, have to attempt to stop the enemy from manifesting. Else, all will be lost.
As I have mentioned before, the key strength of this series lies in its worldbuilding - a world between Life and Death - and its magic - of the wild and free, and the constructs which aimed to give such magic structure and direction, with which it can also bind and break. The narrative around these fantastical elements progressed through the series with more revelations on the lore surrounding the history of Charter magic, and deeper exploration through Death and its Nine Gates.
Given that this third volume serves as the final and climactic act to the story which began in the second, I will not deign to include further commentary on the plot. Even though I struggled a bit with the characters of Lirael and Sam initially, the development of their roles eventually made sense within the context of what they are becoming. In the face of the imminent and overwhelming threat to the world, both not only managed to overcome their angst but each drew upon their respective strengths as nothing but their best will suffice. The tone of the book is engaging throughout, and the narrative grabbed me right from the start.
Even though I have not read much of the YA genre, I can safely say that this is probably one of the better ones out there. There is enough depth in the storytelling and characterization, which without the corresponding ages of the main protagonists, one can easily mistake it for just another classic fantasy novel. And I'll say this again - the world and its magic are positively fascinating. I do recommend this series to those who want to read a classic fantasy with a difference.