Are there any books you read as a teenager that you would love to have just one more book to read in the series? Well, I was recently offered the chance to review Goldenhand, the latest in the amazing Garth Nix Old Kingdom series. Other books I’ve read include Sabriel, Lireal, Abhorsen, Clariel and Across the Wall so I was thrilled to receive my copy of Goldenhand. If you are interested in reading this Young Adult fantasy series and haven’t before then I highly recommend getting your hands on a copy of Sabriel, because this post is going to assume that you have read the previous stories and therefore may contain some spoilers to their plot content. You’ve been warned!
When I first found Sabriel I was looking through the Young Adult fiction books in WHSmiths and after reading the blurb decided to give it a try. As soon as I read it I was completely entranced into this world that had been created. As a child I loved reading a series called Tim and the Witches and The Buccaneers which probably got me interested in fantasy novels. Sabriel was different though. The idea of Necromancers was so interesting and I loved reading about this new world full of magic. The way Nix describes Death just completely captivated me and I eagerly wanted to read on and find out more about each gate and precinct. I remember this book having a really terrifying edge too. The scene were Sabriel is chased by the Mordicant really got my heart racing. It was the scariest thing I’d read in this type of novel but I loved it. I followed on by reading Lireal, which I think is my favourite book of the series, and then Abhorsen which was an epic end to the trilogy.
After that I missed the series and frequently re-read each book. I have them on my kindle, hard copies and I have Sabriel as an audiobook read by Tim Curry who does a fine job of bringing the series to life. It’s safe to say that this my absolute favourite young adult fantasy series by miles. Years later, as an adult, I found out about the Across the Wall set of short stories and Clariel. Both of these stories tie in with the newest book in the Old Kingdom, which I have just finished, Goldenhand.
Goldenhand starts just after Abhorsen and The Creature in the Case (Across the Wall) and is named because Lireal, now the Abhorsen-in-Waiting, lost her hand in the binding of the Destroyer. Her nephew, Prince Sameth, has created a new hand for her which emits a golden glow and has earned her the nickname Goldenhand. I received a hardback copy of the book for the purpose of this review which has a beautiful black and gold dust cover to sink that name home just a little bit more.
We start in the Prologue in which Sabriel and Lireal are together in Death looking for Chlorr of the Mask. Chlorr was a constant enemy in the previous books and didn’t really die the final death so the two are hoping for a way to send her beyond the ninth gate and Sabriel suspects she has a tie to life in someway. We then move on to the events shortly after the Creature in the Case in which Lireal crosses over the wall to defeat a very powerful creature.
Whilst all this is happening we are introduced to Ferrin, a young girl from one of the many clans in the steppe, an area North of the old kingdom and one of twenty clans that unwillingly serve the Witch with no Face. Ferrin has a very important message that she must deliver to Lireal and goes through an incredibly tough journey to get there.
What I love about this book is that Nix has created a group of strong, likeable, independent and wonderful women. These women save their home time and time again. They save the men in their lives. They are taught to be warriors, fighters and in some cases they literally step into Death to defeat powerful enemies. Yet they still have husbands, romances, children and full lives that any woman would want. They are powerful mages and they battle with swords. They are inspirational and an excellent fiction series for young women.
Sabriel is a confident woman from the first book and has grown more so as an adult. She is not without a sense of humour, yet she always comes across as very strong and stern. Nick comments that he has been intimidated by Sabriel, probably because she is an important person, because he also comments on how kind she is. This reinforces that women can be successful and strong but still nurturing. They can be exactly who they want to be.
Lireal is somewhat of an outsider when we first meet her in the second book. She is a quiet girl, a loner, and has been brought up in a world that can’t understand her until she meets the Disreputable Dog, her first and very best friend. The dog brings out Lireals true strength and throughout the series we know Lireal as a very intelligent character with a daring nature. She faces a lot of danger in the series. I think I identify with Lireal a lot because she never quite fit in with life when she was younger and it took her a while to find her true path. When she did she really began to shine and I think this gives hope to those that, maybe as a young women, don’t feel as confident or sure of themselves but that doesn’t mean they won’t find the thing they are best at. It shows that whatever your background you can still go on to do great things.
Goldenhand is a wonderful book, with many strong messages. I have really enjoyed reading this book and it’s tied up any lose ends about the series really well. It was a great adventure and it was very interesting to read about many new characters and places that we haven’t yet been able to visit in the previous Old Kingdom books. I would reccomend this series to anyone that loves fantasy. It’s much better than the typical young adult novels we find and would really suit anyone that enjoys fantasy, steam punk, alternative universe style stories. The book RRP’s at £14.99 and will be added to my Christmas gift guides this year.