Sabriel by Garth Nix
Sabriel is one of the best fantasy books out there, full stop. Although not up to the deep literary analysis of Tolkien's Lord of the Rings or Pullman's His Dark Materials, it is a realistic, fantastical, intriguing and thought-provoking novel that's right up there with the best of them. Garth Nix creates a dark, almost Gothic world that echoes with age and believability that is intoxicating to explore: the magically-imbued Old Kingdom that lies across the Wall from the more scientific-orientated Ancelstierre, which has the mechanics and technology of a post-Victorian Britain (by my estimation anyway).
It is within these two totally ... Read More
Garth Nix(1963- )
Garth Nix has worked as a bookseller, book sales representative, publicist, editor, marketing consultant and literary agent. He also spent five years as a part-time soldier in the Australian Army Reserve. A full-time writer since 2001, more than five million copies of his books have been sold around the world and his work has been translated into 38 languages. Garth’s books have appeared on the bestseller lists of The New York Times, Publishers Weekly (US), The Bookseller(UK), The Australian and The Sunday Times (UK). He lives in Sydney, Australia, with his wife and two children. Learn more at Garth Nix’s website.
The Old Kingdom (Abhorsen) — (1995-2015) Ages 9-12. Boxed sets are available. The Creature in the Case is a novella. Publisher: Since childhood, Sabriel has lived outside the walls of the Old Kingdom, away from the power of Free Magic, and away from the Dead who refuse to stay dead. But now her father, the Mage Abhorson, is missing, and Sabriel must cross into that world to find him. With Mogget, whose feline form hides a powerful, perhaps malevolent spirit, and Touchstone, a young Charter Mage, Sabriel travels deep into the Old Kingdom. There she confronts an evil that threatens much more than her life’and comes face to face with her own hidden destiny…
Sabriel by Garth Nix
Lirael by Garth Nix
Lirael is the sequel to Garth Nix's best selling book Sabriel, and the second of his Old Kingdom trilogy. Set fourteen years after the events of Sabriel, this book surrounds the actions of two main characters. Prince Sameth is the capable, but rather inexperienced son of Touchstone and Sabriel, overshadowed by his elder sister and disheartened by the fact that he is the next Abhorsen — the necromancer chosen to put to rest undead legions with the help of seven magical bells. Lirael is an orphan of the Clayr: clairvoyant allies of the Royal Family who live in a vast glacial community. Unlike all of her brethren, Lirael does not possess the Sight, and so spends her days as librarian, sometimes going for months on end without speaking to another human being. Read More
Abhorsen by Garth Nix
Abhorsen is the final book of Garth Nix's Old Kingdom trilogy, which could basically translate into the second half of Lirael (the first installment Sabriel stands on its own, but its follow-up Lirael needs Abhorsen in order for the story to be completed). In the final chapter of Lirael, our four travelers Lirael, Sameth, Mogget and the Disreputable Dog have found sanctuary (albeit temporarily) at the Abhorsen's House where further revelations concerning Lirael and Sam's connection are discovered. With the missing pieces of her family's history now set into place, Lirael realizes that the burden of Abhorsen-in-Waiting has now been placed on her. Read More
Across the Wall: A Tale of the Abhorsen and Other Stories by Garth Nix
Most fans will find that the most exciting feature of this Garth Nix collection is undoubtedly the short story "Nicholas Sayre and the Creature in the Case," set in the world of the Old Kingdom (the setting of the Old Kingdom trilogy; Sabriel, Lirael, and Abhorsen) and acting as a type of coda for the character of Nicolas Sayre, left damaged and traumatized in the last book. Set six months later, Nick is desperate to return to the Old Kingdom, to visit his old friend Sameth and — particularly — to see the Abhorsen-in-Training Lirael again. Unfortunately red tape is making it difficult for him to get across the Wall, until his political uncle drops him off at the country house of Alastor Dorrance, the leade... Read More
The Keys to the Kingdom — (2003-2010) Ages 9-12. Publisher: Seven days. Seven keys. Seven virtues. Seven sins. One mysterious house is the doorway to a very mysterious world — where one boy is about to venture and unlock a number of fantastical secrets.
Available for download at Audible.com
Mister Monday by Garth Nix
Be a Player, Not a Pawn.
Garth Nix's Mister Monday begins a brand new children's fantasy epic: The Keys to the Kingdom. This Australian author is fast-becoming one of the biggest names in fantasy with his reinvention of the genre and his intricate, fascinating plots. Unlike other such authors, who place their heroes in a medieval realm of magical swords, horse-back riding and dragons, Nix follows the example of writers such as Philip Pullman, Susanna Clarke, and (to a lesser degree) J.K. Rowling by creating a more contemporary fantasy-world with the flavors and style of the 18th and 19th centuries.... Read More
Mister Monday by Garth Nix
Arthur Penhaligon was going to die of an asthma attack when a strange man appeared in an odd conveyance that seemed to be a cross between a wheelchair and a bathtub, and pressed a key into his hand — a key shaped like the minute hand of a clock. He’s about to give Arthur the hour hand key as well, when help arrives, and the old man disappears as quickly as he arrived. From that moment on, nothing will be the same. The key is actually the Lower Key to the House, and Arthur has been named heir, and if he wants to save the world from a mysterious plague that arrived with the dog-faced men known as Fetchers who were sent to retrieve the key, he’s going to have to claim him inheritance, venture into the House, and get the rest of the key from Mister Monday, who will resist relinquishing the source of his power.
Mister Monday, the first book in The Keys of the Kingdom Read More
Drowned Wednesday by Garth Nix
By now the formula to the Keys to the Kingdom series is in place — taking place over a week-long period (with each book chronicling a day) young Arthur Penhaligon travels into the mystical realm of "the House" in order to find seven pieces of a torn Will. This Will was destroyed by the personified Days of the Week (or the 'Morrow Days'), each of whom embody one of the seven deadly sins. Arthur has already defeated Mister Monday's sloth and Grim Tuesday's greed, and now comes up against Drowned Wednesday's terrible gluttony. By doing this, Arthur hopes to bring order once more to the House, in accordance with the instructions left by the Architect (the world's Creator) in the Will she left behind.
There's a lot more to it than that, so I strongly suggest reading Mister Monday and Grim Tuesday Read More
Sir Thursday by Garth Nix
By now the basic premise of Garth Nix's seven-part The Keys to the Kingdom series is well established. Arthur Penhaligon has been thrown into an extraordinary world: the epicenter of the universe, known as "the House". Ruled by the treacherous Morrow Days (named after the days of the week and each personifying one of the seven deadly sins: Mister Monday/sloth; Grim Tuesday/greed; Drowned Wednesday/gluttony and now Sir Thursday who appears to be pride), Arthur has been given the task of reassembling the missing pieces of the Will that will strip these characters of their power and return it to the Rightful Heir — himself!
Perhaps a bit more exposition is needed: the Will is the written word of the creator of this world; a mysterious female-deity known as the Architect. Each piece of the Will takes the form of an animal before each is enveloped into D... Read More
Lady Friday by Garth Nix
At the epicenter of the universe is the House, a sort of celestial bureaucracy that is responsible for recording everything that happens in the Secondary Realms (the world as we know it). It is the Architect who is responsible for creating all this, with a range of guidelines and rules in place for keeping order in each world.
Named after the days of the week and personifying the seven deadly sins, the trustees took over the House when the Architect disappeared, disregarding the instructions she left behind in the form of the Will. As such, they have failed to appoint the Rightful Heir that the Will stipulates should take over in the Architect's absence. It is not until several thousand years pass that a piece of the Will manages to escape its imprisonment and find the Rightful Heir to defeat the seven trustees and claim the keys to the kingdom.
By this stage, if you have not yet been introd... Read More
Superior Saturday by Garth Nix
The longest week of Arthur Penhaligon's life is drawing to a close in this, the penultimate installment in Garth Nix's The Keys to the Kingdom seven book series. Although he has managed to win five Keys from the immortal Trustees that rule over the House (the epicentre of the universe) and free five parts of the Will (the embodiment of the legislation left behind by the mysterious Architect) he still has the two most dangerous challenges left to defeat: the powerful Superior Saturday and the enigmatic Lord Sunday.
As in all the books, Arthur must free the next part of the Will and wrest the Key from the Trustee, but Nix's skill as a storyteller keeps this formula from getting stale. By this stage, the situation is dire and things just keep getting worse for our intrepid hero. The terrible Nothing is swallowing up the lower portions of the House, many of his allie... Read More
Lord Sunday by Garth Nix
In the concluding installment of Garth Nix’s The Keys to the Kingdom, Arthur Penhaglion has to organize an assault on the Incomparable Gardens, home to Lord Sunday, who controls the last part of the Architect’s Will. But Arthur isn’t the only one trying to liberate the last magical fragment of the will — he also faces the armies of Serious Saturday and the Piper, both intent on reaching the Will before Arthur can free it to join the other six parts (which will allow the will to be fulfilled). And Arthur has to get the Will soon, because the House is falling to the forces of Nothing, and if it reaches the Will first, all will be undone — including his life back at home.
I had only read the first book in The Keys to the Kingdom series (Mister Monday) before I began Lord... Read More
Shade’s Children by Garth Nix
Garth Nix published Shade’s Children in 1997. Shade’s Children is a complete book, not part of a series. It reads like a really well-made B movie. It isn’t terribly deep, it doesn’t take itself too seriously, just provides a decent action adventure.
In the near future, a cataclysmic “Change” made everyone over the age of fourteen disappear. The children have been captured and live very short lives in Dorms. On their fourteenth birthdays, the Overlords who now rule earth come and take them away to become part of the Meat Factory; a Parts Department for their fighting creatures — Screamers, Trackers, Wingers, Myrmidons and Ferrets. Every one of these monsters is engineered; part magical, part machine and part human. There is a rumor that some fourteen-year-old girls are forced into a breeding program and may live to be ... Read More
Sir Hereward and Mister Fitz: Three Adventures by Garth Nix
When I think of Garth Nix I think of excellent fantasy literature for children, but Nix writes for adults, too. Sir Hereward and Mister Fitz: Three Adventures is a collection of three previously published stories about a knight and artillerist named Sir Hereward and a magically animated puppet called Mr. Fitz. The duo works for the Council for the Saftey of the World and they’ve taken a vow to hunt down and exterminate the supernatural beings who are on a proscribed list of evil godlets. Sir Hereward contributes his skill with explosives while Fitz does the magic. Each of the adventures in this collection tells how they dealt with one of the godlets.
“Sir Hereward and Mister Fitz Go to War Again” (originally published in Jim Baen’s Universe, April 2007, edited by Eric Flint) — Hereward and Fitz travel to a pastoral community where a proscribed godlet is... Read More
The Year's Best Fantasy and Horror 2007
In many ways, The Year's Best Fantasy and Horror 2007 anthology is a difficult book to review. For one thing, to me and a lot of my reading/writing circle, this is easily the definitive bible when it comes to short stories of the genre. For another, many of the stories that are included in this collection have been featured in other anthologies as well, so there's an overlap in terms of stories featured. But I'll try and talk about what makes this anthology unique from other similar anthologies.
The Year's Best Fantasy and Horror is quite comprehensive about its subject matter, not just featuring short stories but poems and articles. The first dozen pages are articles summarizing the important events that happened in the two genres including the obituaries of the previous year. That’s really quite valuable from an archiving standpoint, an... Read More
The Year's Best Fantasy and Horror 2008
For me, The Year's Best Fantasy and Horror 2008 has been a two-headed beast. On one hand, it's an eagerly anticipated book by people involved in the industry, usually for the summation at the front of the book and the honorable mentions list at the back. The various editors are quite thorough and detailed when it comes to this part. The other aspect is, of course, the story/poetry selection, which is what will likely attract the casual reader.
So, how does it actually fare? Well, with regards to the first aspect, there are no disappointments. When covering the highlights of the previous year (and alas, the obituaries) and the various media (comics, movies, and music) in which either fantasy or horror plays a part, the book has it covered. The writing is functional and achieves what it sets out to do.
With regard to the stories and poems, this is a wel... Read More
Fast Ships, Black Sails edited by Jeff and Ann Vandermeer
I was never a big fan of pirates (ninjas, on the other hand...) but nonetheless, the very word evokes adventure and the high seas. Fast Ships, Black Sails doesn't really stray far from that expectation and delivers eighteen stories marked with action, treachery, and a sense of wonder.
A good chunk of the stories revolve around traditional concepts of a pirate, with only a few exceptions, such as "Boojum" by Elizabeth Bear & Sarah Monette, which takes place in space. The rest take place on stormy waters with sea-worthy vessels manned by rascally crews. Surprisingly, many of the stories ar... Read More
Troll's Eye View: A Book of Villainous Tales edited by Ellen Datlow and Terri Windling
Fairy tales were my first love when I was a child. My mother introduced me to the joys of stories with The Golden Book of Fairy Tales long before I learned how to read. My early reading included the first three volumes of The Junior Classics and Andrew Lang’s colorful fairy tale books. When Ellen Datlow and Terri Windling started editing anthologies of new takes on the old tales for adults with Snow White, Blood Red, I was delighted. And when Datlow and Windling started editing a series of original fiction for young adults based on fairy tales, I couldn’t resist t... Read More
The New Space Opera 2: All-New Tales of Science Fiction Adventure edited by Gardner Dozois & Jonathan Strahan
The New Space Opera 2: All-New Tales of Science Fiction Adventure is, as its name implies, the second of Gardner Dozois and Jonathan Strahan’s themed anthologies attempting to put a modern spin on space opera, a subgenre of science fiction which causes many of us to think of big metal spaceships crewed by handsome blaster-wielding men who protect us from evil aliens that want to destroy the Earth, or at least steal it’s shrieking scantily clad women. We laugh at these old stories now — the way they ignore the vacuum of space and the effects of relativity, the way their aliens seem a lot less alien than they should, and the way that they rarely seem to display the variety in ... Read More
Swords & Dark Magic: The New Sword & Sorcery edited by Jonathan Strahan & Lou Anders
Swords & Dark Magic: The New Sword & Sorcery is a book I’ve been eagerly anticipating ever since it was first announced in 2009. I was particularly excited about the anthology’s impressive list of contributors which includes several authors I enjoy reading like Glen Cook, Greg Keyes, Scott Lynch, Joe Abercrombie, Garth Nix, Tim Lebbon, Read More
Swords & Dark Magic: The New Sword & Sorcery edited by Jonathan Strahan & Lou Anders
Swords & Dark Magic: The New Sword and Sorcery is an excellent new anthology of original short fantasy fiction, featuring an impressive mixture of established genre masters and newer, highly talented authors. The book’s introduction, by editors Lou Anders and Jonathan Strahan, does an excellent job defining the sword & sorcery sub-genre and placing it in its historical context. This is an interesting read for anyone who wants to learn more about the history of the genre and doesn’t have a copy of John Clute and John Grant’s The Encyclopedia of Fantasy handy, but the main... Read More
Swords and Dark Magic: The New Sword and Sorcery edited by Jonathan Strahan and Lou Anders
As the title suggests, Jonathan Strahan and Lou Anders have gathered seventeen new and original sword & sorcery tales in this anthology. The stories are written by a variety of successful authors, bringing to play a broad range of styles and themes. I’m a huge fan of sword & sorcery (it’s what got me into fantasy). So I was extremely eager to get my hands on this book.
I did find Swords and Dark Magic to be heavier on the “sorcery” than the “sword,” more so than is my preference. (Like the greatest S&S hero, Conan the Cimmerian, I subscribe to the belief that when the gods breathed life into mankind, we were gi... Read More
Zombies vs. Unicorns edited by Holly Black and Justine Larbalestier
Back in 2007, Holly Black and Justine Larabalestier got in an argument about which fiction creature was superior — zombies or unicorns. Spurred on by that debate, they each recruited some of their author friends to write short tales in which they present the storytelling possibilities of the two mythic beasts. With header notes for each story in which they discuss the historical background for the different takes on the creatures, HollyBlack heads up Team Unicorn, and Justine Larbalestier heads up Team Zombie.
Writing for Team Unicorn, we have Kathleen Duey, Read More
Steampunk!: An Anthology of Fantastically Rich and Strange Stories by Kelly Link and Gavin J. Grant (eds.)
Steampunk!: An Anthology of Fantastically Rich and Strange Stories is a new young adult collection edited by veteran anthologists Kelly Link and Gavin J. Grant. Featuring twelve conventional short stories and two graphic entries, Steampunk! showcases a wide variety of ideas and styles that fall under the steampunk umbrella. The collection is entertaining and is lent extra freshness by the variety of settings explored by the authors: none of the stories are set in Victorian London.
The book begins with “Some Fortunate Future Day” by Cassandra Clare. This is a creepy little story about a rather warped young girl who desires love but knows very little about it. Th... Read More
After: Nineteen Stories of Apocalypse and Dystopia by editors Ellen Datlow & Terri Windling
When I saw the new Datlow and Windling anthology After: Nineteen Stories of Apocalypse and Dystopia, I was so excited. I love YA fiction, I love dyslit, I love short story anthologies and I love Ellen Datlow and Terri Windling as editors, so I figured it was a match made in heaven. Unfortunately, my reading experience didn’t live up to my expectations.
After is an anthology of short stories set after. After what? Alien invasion, plague, environmental collapse, asteroid strike, it doesn’t matter. Just after. This leaves a lot of room for the authors to be creative, as they all can choose different afters to explore, and it leaves the anthology feeling a bit disjointed as you hop from one disaster to another. Technically, most of th... Read More
The Seventh Tower — (2000-2001) Ages 9-12. Publisher: Welcome to the Dark World. Tal lives high above, in a mountaintop castle where light is the ultimate commodity, the spirit world is the only escape and isolation from the outside world is complete. He does not think to question his world. He does not dare to dream of anything else. Then one day he tries to steal a sunstone, the only way of assuring his family’s safety. The attempt fails, and Tal falls from the Castle… straight into the unknown.
The Ragwitch — (1991) Ages 9-12. Publisher: When Julia discovers an old rag doll on a deserted beach, she becomes enslaved by the evil Ragwitch. Her younger brother Paul follows them into another dimension in a brave attempt to save his sister and the Kingdom of Yendre. But first he must rally the four rogue Elementals of the Wild Magic if he is ever to defeat the Ragwitch.
A Confusion of Princes — (2012) Young adult. Publisher: A major stand-alone space opera, this is Garth Nix’s first novel for older readers since the conclusion of the Old Kingdom trilogy! and it’s worth the wait. A grand adventure that spans galaxies and lifetimes, A Confusion of Princes is also a page-turning action adventure. These are the three deaths of Prince Khemri. Told in his own words, we follow him as he trains to become a Prince of the Empire, an enhanced human being, equipped with biological and technological improvements that make him faster, stronger and smarter than any ordinary person. Not to mention the ultimate benefit: should he die, and be deemed worthy, he will be reborn! Which is just as well, because no sooner has Prince Khemri graduated to full Princehood than he learns the terrible truth behind the Empire: there are a million princes, and all of them want each other dead, because there can only be one Emperor!
TroubleTwisters — (2011-2014) Ages 9-12. Garth Nix and Sean Williams. Publisher: A spectacular new middle-grade fantasy series from NYT bestselling authors Garth Nix and Sean Williams, in which two twins find that they must act as wards against a threatening evil. The Evil has been trying to break into our dimension and dominate the earth for centuries. Unbeknownst to most of us, there are Wardens all over the globe, who protect humanity from the Evil that asserts itself at the Portals, which are the only places through which the Evil may pass into our world. Jaide and Jack Shield don’t know that the world is under attack. They don’t know that their dad and their Grandma X, who they move in with, are Wardens, or that they themselves are troubletwisters, young Wardens just coming into their powers.
Spirit Animals — (2013) Ages 9-12. Several SFF author are involved in this project. Publisher: Scholastic’s brand-new multiplatform phenomenon. Four children separated by vast distances all undergo the same ritual, watched by cloaked strangers. Four flashes of light erupt, and from them emerge the unmistakable shapes of incredible beasts — a wolf, a leopard, a panda, a falcon. Suddenly the paths of these children — and the world — have been changed forever. Enter the world of Erdas, where every child who comes of age must discover if they have a spirit animal, a rare bond between human and beast that bestows great powers to both. A dark force has risen from distant and long-forgotten lands, and has begun an onslaught that will ravage the world. Now the fate of Erdas has fallen on the shoulders of four young strangers… and on you. This is a book/RPG series.
Lightspeed Magazine is edited by the formidable John Joseph Adams, who has produced a long series of wonderful anthologies and is soon to launch a new horror magazine. One might be concerned that such a busy schedule would mean that something would get short shrift, but if that is the case, it certainly isn’t Issue 26 of Lightspeed.
About half of the content of this magazine, which is produced in electronic format only, consists of interviews, novel excerpts, an artist gallery and spotlight, and author spotlights. In addition, roughly half of the fiction offered is original; the r... Read More