Wednesday 24 February 2010

Review: Lord Sunday (The Keys to the Kingdom) by Garth Nix

In this seventh and last book of The Keys to the Kingdom, the mysteries of the House, the Architect, the Trustees, the Keys and the Will are revealed, and the fate of Arthur, our Earth, and the entire Universe is finally decided. Arthur has wrested the Sixth Key from Superior Saturday, but has fallen from the Incomparable Gardens; fallen not to the Upper House but to somewhere completely unexpected. Alone in enemy territory, as his mind and body are further transformed by the power of the Keys, Arthur must struggle with himself as much as with his many enemies.

Meanwhile, Arthur's friend Suzy Blue plots an escape from her prison in Saturday's tower, as battle rages above and below. Saturday's elite force is pressing on into the Incomparable Gardens, while her massed sorcerers fight a desperate rear-guard action against the Piper and his Newnith army. On earth, Leaf has to cope with the aftermath of a nuclear strike. Responsible for all the Sleepers in Friday's private hospital, she needs all the help she can get, particularly as Leaf herself has become a target for intruders from the House. And the tide of Nothing continues to rise, destroying everything in its path ...
In my mind, Anthony Horowitz perfectly summed up this whole series with the following prophetic statement that was used by the publishers at the beginning of this series: "I just loved Mister Monday, which is an amazing, no-holds-barred fantasy by Garth Nix. This is destined to be a cult series. Every chapter seems to bring something new and wonderful and ends with another surprise. In all honesty, I've never read anything quite like it and I simply can't wait for Tuesday." As far as this series is concerned I can honestly say that I'm with Mr H on all of these points.

So now we finally come to the concluding episode, and as with all end of series books the big question is will all loose ends by tied and more importantly how will it end for Arthur and his friends? There is often a lot of pressure on authors who have built up a huge fanbase with a series - should they write the story they originally planned or should they go out the way to please the fans? The internet has enabled these fans to broadcast their hopes and fears for all the world to see and there has been some debate in the past as to whether authors have an obligation to provide their fans with what they want. This is even more of an issue with books for young adults and children, as those in at the start have now aged by five or six years, and in that time tastes and ideals change and mature. On the evidence offered by Lord Sunday, I would suggest that Garth Nix has provided a conclusion that is in keeping with the rest of the books in the series. As a result of this, some fans may be disappointed with the ending, some will be overjoyed, and many may be a little surprised. I am most definitely very satisfied with the ending, but more than that I will not say as I would hate to create any spoilers.

Hmmm..... whilst on the topic of spoilers, I have always found it difficult to write reviews of final books in a series, for fear of giving too much away to readers who have not yet discovered the earlier books. So, choosing my words very carefully: the action continues at full speed from where it left off, at that agonising cliffhanger at the end of Superior Saturday; Arthur is becoming increasingly more Denizen, and therefore it is harder to like him and relate to his character; parts of the story are as dark as the darkest moments in earlier books and the tension levels are often at critical level; and as in previous books Mr Nix keeps the story from going stale with more clever twists. You will have to forgive me for not saying any more - long-time fans should understand my reticence here, and if you haven't yet delved into The Keys of the Kingdom series then you will forgive me once you have taken the plunge. Garth Nix has an incredible and unique imagination - now that the series is finished I wish I in the position of someone newly discovering these books so I could read the whole series for the first time, from beginning to end in one sitting.

Lord Sunday is published by HarperCollins, who very kindly sent me a copy of this book, and is due to be in stores on 4th March.


  1. I LOVE THIS REVIEW!!! (I have been prowling round bookshops for the past few days for Lord Sunday! - am going on holiday when it comes out so am hoping I find a copy...) Can't WAIT!!!

    I think there is a podcast of Garth ix reading the first two chapters on iTunes on "Allen & Unwin", if that helps anyone....

  2. Can't wait to read this book! Thanks for the review. Interesting you should say that Arthur becomes harder to relate to, though. I've read all 6 books, amazed by Nix's creativity, but all along I've felt that Arthur wasn't as sympathetic an MC as I would have liked him to be--not sure why.

  3. Pewter - I hope you manage to get your hands on a copy before you go away.

    Kate - I agree - as main characters go Arthur is definitely a long way off appearing on my list of favourites. It is the incredible scope of Nix's imagination that has always had me coming back for more with this series.