Tag Archives: Garth NIx
Bedtime Stories: Goldenhand
Post by Mark T. Locker.
Goldenhand by Garth Nix.
I don’t have a scary story for you today. Sorry! I was too excited about the new Garth Nix novel to read anything else. I’m sure you all understand.
20 years ago, the Australian author released Sabriel the YA fantasy novel about a young woman, Sabriel, flung before her time into the dark and dangerous world of necromancy. Wielder of seven magical bells, her job is to fight Free Magic necromancers, who bring the dead back to life to do their bidding. Later, we met Lirael, Daughter of the Clayr. Lirael is a Clayr, the Seers who live underneath the glacier and watch the future and the past. In the final book, Abhorsen, Lirael continues her quest to defeat a dark necromancer.
And now, 20 years after the last battles of the Old Kingdom, we get Goldenhand, a new tale that picks up shortly after Abhorsen. Tying together all the novels (including Clariel, a story that takes place hundreds of years earlier) we get what appears to probably be the final book in the series. Focusing again mostly on Lirael, we join her as she reunites with a young man from the other side of the Wall, a non-magical person with little experience in the magical North. We also meet a new character, another brave and fierce woman, a tribal warrior named Ferin. While Lirael and Nick work their way to the Clayr’s glacier, Ferin is fighting to make her way to Lirael, carrying an important message from Lirael’s long-deceased mother.
If you have read the other four books in the Old Kingdom series, Goldenhand will quench your thirst for another trip north of the Wall. Personally, Sabriel is still my favorite but this is a satisfactory end to a much-loved series.
Bedtime Stories: Newt’s Emerald
Post by Mark T. Locker.
Newt’s Emerald by Garth Nix
Over the years, I have judiciously reported on pretty much every book Garth Nix has written. He is a fairly diverse writer, covering the realms of both fantasy and sci-fi, plus some stuff that falls in between. His most recent novel forges into new territory for Nix: the Regency romance. For those unfamiliar with this genre, think young ladies in silken gowns looking forward to being presented so they can finally partake of the waltz, which is too risqué for a young lady. Think lords and manors and balls. Now give all this a Garth Nix twist; pepper the ladies and gowns and carriages with magical intrigue and you’ve got Newt’s Emerald.
Lady Truthful Newington is about to turn eighteen and celebrate her grand coming out in London. In preparation for the event, her father brings out the valuable magical Newington Emerald which will be given to Truthful when she turns 24. Suddenly, thunder cracks, everything turns black, and the emerald is gone! Lady Truthful has to go to London empty-handed. However, her great aunt, who is a skilled if eccentric magician in her own right, concocts a plan to find the emerald. As a young lady, Truthful cannot go out on her own to seek it out. But some training, some trousers and an ensorcelled mustache can give her the glamour of a rather convincing young Frenchman, and suddenly Truthful is the Chevalier de Vienne who is helping look for his cousin’s stolen emerald.
Full of quick changes, cheeky humor from the great aunt, and a love interest who may or may not be what he seems, Newt’s Emerald is a fun and utterly harmless story. It’s so unlike anything else Nix has written that it takes a minute to adjust but he tells a fantastic tale whatever the setting. And to be honest, I’m a sucker for magical Victorian young adult lit.
Bedtime Stories: To Hold the Bridge
Post by Mark T. Locker.
To Hold the Bridge: Tales from the Old Kingdom and Beyond by Garth Nix.
If anyone has been reading these book reviews for any amount of time, you will know that Garth Nix is one of my go-to young adult fantasy novelists. His Old Kingdom books (Sabriel, Lirael, Abhorsen and now Clariel) are my personal favorites. Well, Garth Nix has just released a new collection of short stories, and I couldn’t be happier. What’s more intriguing is that a few of these stories are set in worlds that fans of his novels will recognize and be excited to revisit. Others are surprisingly real-Earth based, but no less fun to read.
The first story, To Hold the Bridge is a great little story from the Old Kingdom, a place I’m always happy to revisit. A harrowing tale of a poor, physically imperfect but clever and well-trained joins a troupe that guards an important bridge. When a necromancer launches an attack, the young man finds himself the only thing standing between the undead and the village beyond.
Another story was first featured in Holly Black’s compilation, Zombies vs. Unicorns. Garth Nix’s story has both zombies AND unicorns, so we all win! My favorite story is a short, sweet story about a young man whose voice was damaged in a childhood accident so he doesn’t speak much. Where he really thrives is as the Quiet Knight, his live-action role playing (LARPing) character, in which he dresses as a knight and battles the forces of evil. It’s sweet.
Finally, fans of Shade’s Children and A Confusion of Princes will rejoice to see their beloved characters brought back for an encore after, in the case of Shade’s Children, nearly 20 years. Although a couple of these stories are not what I’ve come to expect from Garth Nix, they’re all fairly enjoyable. And that short stories can be read in their entirety before falling asleep makes these perfect bedtime reading.
Bedtime Stories: Sabriel Day!
Post by Mark T. Locker.
Happy May 11! Today has been “officially” dubbed as Sabriel Day by Garth Nix, author of the wonderful young adult fantasy series. Twenty years ago today, Sabriel was published. I was wrapping up high school. I didn’t discover Sabriel, and the companion books in the trilogy, Lirael and Abhorsen, for many more years but they have stayed with me ever since. I have read the whole series (including his most recent companion, Clariel at least twice, and I’ve also listened to them all on audio, the first three read by the unparalleled Tim Curry!
The story of Sabriel is wonderfully unique and yet familiar. She is a young woman, still in school, south of the Wall, where magic has no grip. Her father lives north of the Wall, in the Old Kingdom. He is the Abhorsen, a necromancer whose job is to keep the dead dead and to walk them through past the Ninth Gate into death. You know how it goes. So when Sabriel receives a messenger from Death, carrying her father’s sword and necromancer’s bells, she knows there is trouble. Thus begins her journey learning about herself, about who her father is, and about life in the Old Kingdom where magic and monsters are part of everyday life.
This series has topped my list of favorite YA novels since I first picked it up. It’s fantasy that doesn’t feel like fantasy. There are no clearly made up magical names, no elves and goblins, and blessedly, no dragons. I don’t know why, but dragons is where I draw the line. If you’ve never read this series, this, the 20th anniversary, is the perfect time to pick it up. Celebrate Sabriel Day and see what you’ve been missing out on!
Bedtime Stories: Clariel
Clariel: the Lost Abhorsen by Garth Nix.
Post by Mark T. Locker.
If you are a fan of the Old Kingdom Trilogy, you have probably been awaiting this novel with much anticipation and maybe a little bit of fear. After all, new additions to much-loved and long-completed series often promise much and deliver little. If you don’t know what the Old Kingdom it, now is a great time to find out. The original series, written by Australian fantasy/sci-fi author Garth Nix, was started in 1995 with the novel Sabriel. In this novel, and its subsequent two follow-ups, we are introduced to the world of the Old Kingdom, an ancient land of magic, necromancy, and a world still in a semi-Medieval feudal system. Across the Wall to the South, there are cars, phones, conventional weapons. Magic is mostly unheard of. None of this works beyond the Wall, which is why horseback, sword and arrow are still the norm. The kingdom is ordered around the Charter, which is a magical system which keeps order and structure. Think of it like the light side of the Force. There is also a dark side, the Free Magic used by rogue magicians and necromancers. The Abhorsen is the Charter’s answer to Free Magic. Like royalty, it is passed on in the bloodline. When an Abhorsen comes of age, he or she will wear the spelled bells and keep the dead from rising again. Creepy stuff, but important.
Clariel is set several hundred years before Sabriel. She is a fierce and fiercely independent young heir to both the Abhorsen and the royal bloodlines who wants nothing more than to live in the woods, protecting the woods and the wilderness. She is the very definition of a reluctant hero, as she and her family move to the capitol city of Belisaire in order to further her mother’s career. This book does not fail to deliver. It never tries to ride on the coattails of the previous books to carry itself and works as the first book in the series, or as a prequel to read after. Great fantasy for adults or middle-school aged kids and up.