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Nix, Garth. Above The Veil. New York: Lucasfilm, Ltd. & TM, 2001.


Above The Veil, by Garth Nix, is part of a grander tale about the quest of Tal and Milla,
two inhabitants of the Dark World, to stop shadows from invading their home. As they
flee from the castle guards, they meet up with Crow and Tal’s great-uncle; Tal and Crow
decide they need to climb the Red Tower, for in it lies the Red Keystone. While
attempting to retrieve the Keystone, which is important to defend the Dark World, Tal and
Crow are attacked and must flee the tower; Milla becomes the War-Chief of her people
and plans to assault the Castle as Tal accidentally injures Crow. A possible theme for this
novel is people should be tolerant of other cultures.


The characters in Above The Veil, by Garth Nix, add depth to the story. The protagonists
are Tal Graile-Rerem, a Chosen who lives in the Orange Tower, and Milla of the Far-
Raiders, an Icecarl who wishes to be a Shield Maiden. Tal is round and dynamic. He is
round because the readers know his motivations and parts of the story are told from his
perspective. He is dynamic because he no longer thinks down on the Underfolk at the
end of the novel. The readers like Tal because he is trying to help the Underfolk and keep
the Veil from coming down. Milla is also round and dynamic. She is round because the
readers learn her cultural motivations. She is dynamic because she no longer thinks Tal is
a spoiled weakling as before. The readers like Milla because she is trying to help Tal on
his adventure. Crow is a member of the Freefolk, a group whose goal is to free the
Underfolk. He is round and static. He is round because the readers learn why he hates
the Chosen. The readers do not like Crow because he is mean to Tal and turns on him.
Sushin is the Dark Vizier to the Empress. He is flat and static as well as the antagonist.
He wants to bring down the Veil to let the shadows come over. The readers do not like
Sushin because he is trying to let free shadows into the Castle and take it over. The
primary conflict is man vs. supernatural because Tal and Crow must fight shadows to
retrieve the Keystone. This novel is written in third person omniscient because the
readers know more that one characters thoughts and feelings. Without these characters,
Above The Veil would not be nearly as vivid.


Garth Nix uses many literary devices to add depth to Above The Veil. Foreshadowing is
an important element in this novel. An example of foreshadowing is when Crow and Tal
are climbing up the Red Tower to retrieve the Red Keystone. Garth Nix writes:
Hanging upside down-or perhaps growing-from the very center of the
domed ceiling was a tree or red crystal. Its trunk was straight and bare for
several stretches, before it branched out into a canopy that covered most of
the room. Each branch had a silver bell on the end (170-171).
This foreshadows that the tree acts like an alarm that will be set off as Tal and Crow
retrieve the Keystone. Symbolism is also important in this novel. Symbolism is used to
show how the people of the Dark World feel about the Veil. An example of this is when
Tal and Milla are dicussing Sushin with the Freefolk. Milla says, “A shadow that wants to
lower the Veil and remove the darkness that protects us” (84). By saying this, Milla leads
the readers to believe that the Veil symbolizes protection because it keeps out free
shadows. Irony is also used in Above The Veil. An example is when Sushin is giving
orders when the guards are searching for Milla and Tal. Mr. Nix writes:
Shadowmaster Sushin settled farther back on his makeshift seat and ate
the last of the shrimps. Then he rubbed his hands on a Yellow robe that
was poking out of the top of one of the laundry bags and looked at the
latest guard who had come back to report- a Shadowlord of the Violet (4).
This is ironic because in the Dark World, people order shadows, but in this situation, it is
reversed. Sushin is a shadow that has taken over a man’s body, and since Sushin is the
Dark Vizier who orders other Chosen, a shadow is ordering the Chosen. Without these
literary elements, Above The Veil, by Garth Nix, would be a very dull story.


We think people with imaginations and who enjoy fantasy would like reading this novel.
They will enjoy the thrilling action of magic and the fighting of men and shadows.
People who do not have an imagination or interest in fantasy would strongly dislike this
book. We would strongly suggest this book to younger children more than we would
adults. This book is interesting and exciting, and anyone with an imagination would
enjoy it.