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Sunday, April 15, 2018

A To Z Blogging Challenge: N Is For Garth Nix

Today’s Aussie children’s writer, Garth Nix, writes fantasy and SF both for children and teens. He has even done a very funny Regency romance with magic. I am still making my way through his books, though I had all of them in my school library. I will just talk about those I have read. At the end, you will find a link to his web site with information abut all his books.

His best-known series is The Old Kingdom. I’m still making my way through this because, when I first read it, years ago, it was a trilogy, Sabriel, Lirael and Abhorsen. Now two more books have been added to the series, Clariel(prequel)and Goldenhand(a sequel to Lirael)and I’m having to reread from the start before I feel up to reading the new books. 

I’ve just started rereading Sabriel and have been pleasantly surprised at how well it stands up to my memories of it. 

Each book has a heroine in the same universe. Sabriel, heroine of the first book, is the daughter of Abhorsen, a necromancer. Unlike what we imagine of necromancers - you know, those scary sorcerers who use the power of death for evil magic - Abhorsen’s job is to make sure the dead stay where they should, beyond the First Gate of a chilly river. When he goes missing, maybe dead, Sabriel must leave her young ladies’ boarding school to find out what is going on, into the Old Kingdom where she was born. She has magical training and knows how to use the bells and sword of a necromancer, which her father sent her via a shadow messenger. She will need them!

In this world, there is Charter magic, which is magic under control, and Wild magic, which...isn’t. Charter Mages aren’t wizards in long robes experimenting in weird laboratories. The magic is something you do as part of your job. Even the soldiers along the Wall between Ancelstierre, a sort of Edwardian/1920s era country, and the Old Kingdom, are all Charter Mages. They have to be because there is so much magic floating across the Wall, and they have to use mediaeval weapons because technology won’t work there. 

I should mention that in my school library, it was the boys who were reading and loving this series, despite the girls whose pictures were on the covers. I never managed to “sell” them to my female library users.  Go figure! 

Newt’s Emerald is a hilarious Regency romance with a magical missing emerald and a teenage girl disguised as a boy, with a magical moustache that helps her actually pass as a young man when she puts it on. I believe it started off as a novel within a novel, written early in Garth Nix’s career. The original book didn’t work out, but this one did. Very silly - deliberately so. 

His books for younger readers includes The Keys To The Kingdom, a series of seven novels, each with a title including a day of the week. I have, I admit, only read the first book, Mister Monday, and that was years ago, so I will just give you the cover blurb here. 

Arthur Penhaligon is not supposed to be a hero. He is, in fact, supposed to die an early death. But then his life is saved by a key shaped like the minute hand of a clock.

Arthur is safe–but his world is not. Along with the key comes a plague brought by bizarre creatures from another realm. A stranger named Mister Monday, his avenging messengers with bloodstained wings, and an army of dog-faced Fetchers will stop at nothing to get the key back–even if it means destroying Arthur and everything around him.

Desperate, Arthur ventures into a mysterious house– a house that only he can see. It is in this house that Arthur must unravel the secrets of the key–and discover his true fate.

I bought them all on the insistence of a Year 7 boy who simply loved the series. I really need to get back to them, once I have finished the Old Kingdom books.

So, a writer who can write about, and for, boys and girls alike! 

What I love about his books is how very readable they are, how comfortably I have slipped back into Sabriel, like a pair of old slippers - and I am very picky about my fantasy fiction! 

Here is a link to his web site, which tells you about all his books and where you can buy them. They are certainly available outside Australia; the first thing we are told in the heading on his site is that he is a New York Times bestselling author. 


Hilary Melton-Butcher said...

Hi Sue - his books sound ideal to draw that age group in ... following on reading one after the other ... but great they appealed to the boys ... I've never heard of him - but good to know about - cheers Hilary

Sue Bursztynski said...

Interesting that the Old Kingdom books, with girls as the protagonists, interested boys!

Deepa said...

Lovely read

Tongue Twister for N
Tongue Twister for M
Tongue Twister for L

Sue Bursztynski said...

Thank you! Er - the post or the books? 😁

AJ Blythe said...

Garth Nix is an author my Barbarians enjoy to read. The Keys to the Kingdom series are on the bookshelves, as are The Trouble Twister series and Spirit Animals.

Sue Bursztynski said...

The ateouble atwisters are fun! I’ve only read one if the Spirit Animals books, though.

Sue Bursztynski said...

Trouble Twisters!

Cathy Kennedy said...


SF is an interesting genre for boys and girls but I do see the appeal more for boys in this series. I like that you're featuring Australian authors in your A2Z theme which is a great introduction for most US readers including myself. Today's post is a hodgepodge of posts with 4M, Sparks, A2Z, & BoTB. Have a tunetastic week and happy A2Zing, my friend!

Curious as a Cathy
iPad Art Sketch 'N' is for Naptime for Baby

A Tarkabarka Hölgy said...

Regency magic? That sounds like a lot of fun! :)

The Multicolored Diary: Weird Things in Hungarian Folktales

Sue Bursztynski said...

It is - great fun!