Friday, March 2, 2007

Two Series by Garth Nix

Jackamo and I are big fans of Garth Nix. We've read two exceptional fantasy series by him: The Keys to the Kingdom and the Abhorsen or Old Kingdom trilogy.

Last night I stayed up late finishing the newly released fifth book of the seven-book Keys series. These stories are written for young adults or older children, and the main characters are around 12 years old. The language of this series is straightforward without feeling juvenile, and the hero Arthur makes hard, honorable decisions while still being very human—he is often fearful and uncertain but very admirable. An adopted child who struggles with severe asthma, Arthur is unwillingly pulled into another world called The House where he has to contend with seven daunting characters named after the days of the week. Each antagonist clearly represents one of the seven deadly sins. It’s an impelling adventure story for any age. Each volume ends with a cliffhanger, so I’m eagerly awaiting the publication of the two final installments in the series.

Nix’s Abhorsen trilogy is aimed at older readers with more sophisticated language and adult themes. Similar to The Keys series, it is a solid fantasy story enriched by Catholic imagery that is thought-provoking but never dogmatic. Nix also does not shy away from death in his books, and I admire him for including a very realistic depiction of it for younger readers. I found the Abhorsen trilogy extremely difficult to put down the first time I read it and am looking forward to rereading it this week. I am both distraught that Nix hasn’t written additional Abhorsen novels (he has written a short story that I haven't yet read) and pleased that his trilogy ended well and never became tired. It’s a bittersweet reading experience when a superb conclusion leaves you wanting more.

The Books in The Keys to the Kingdom Series: Mister Monday, Grim Tuesday, Drowned Wednesday, Sir Thursday, Lady Friday, Superior Saturday (not yet published), Lord Sunday (not yet published).

The Abhorsen Trilogy: Sabriel, Lirael, Abhorsen.


Phil K. said...

Beth -

The subject of pre-teen series (what's the plural of more than one series?), reminds me something that I always ask well-read book people, especially ones that I have read Christian-tinged works.

What's your preferred order of reading for Lewis' Chronicles of Narnia? Chronological or Published order?

Watoosa said...

The plural of series is series. I had to double check it.

There's only one way to read the Chronicles, and that's Lewis's original published order. Anything else is heresy. If you don't start the series off with that magical entrance via the Wardrobe, all the mystery is ruined. I wrote a whole thesis about it in college. I won't buy new printings because they have the numbers on the covers in the wrong order.

Phil K. said...

And, with that....I am satisfied. Now, if we can just get you guys weened off of "Lost."

Watoosa said...

We're done with Lost. It has infuriated us with its lameness for the last time.