Monday, June 16, 2008

Where there's a will, there's a way

Arthur's first day of school is not going very well. It's bad enough that he had to start a week later than every one else, because he was hospitalized after a particularly bad asthma attack - but now his gym teacher is making him do a long-distance run with the rest of the class because Arthur doesn't have a note from home excusing him. The run starts out okay, but then the asthma hits, and before he knows it he's on the ground, gasping for air but unable to take any in.

It is at that moment that he sees a very strange sight: two strange men approach him, who appear to be a servant and a master. The servant assures the master that Arthur is about to die, and it is safe to give him the keys. He is an heir, he can accept the keys, he will die, and the keys can be returned to the other man. The master hands Arthur something - it looks like the hand of a clock - and the moment Arthur's hands close around it, he feels much better. The two men start to argue, and then everything becomes confused. People rush up to help Arthur, who is still in the throes of the asthma attack. The men vanish, and Arthur, afraid someone will take the clock hand, hides it beneath a bush. He is taken to the hospital, and from that point on things go from strange to bizarre.

Strange creatures pursue Arthur, and in their wake the leave a sort of pestilence, the kind of illness that killed Arthur's parents when he was just a baby. Arthur must follow what appears to be his destiny as the named heir to some kind of will, a will literally made manifest and determined to set matters straight. Arthur could care less about being an heir, but he enters a massive, ornate house that only he is able to see, in an attempt to stop the plague from spreading - but he will contend with forces and beings beyond his greatest imaginings. Most of them do not wish him well.

I loved Garth Nix's Sabriel series, so I was excited to try out the Keys to the Kingdom, which is targeted at slightly younger readers. This first book sets the series in motion very nicely, immediately establishing Arthur as a sympathetic character that I was rooting for from the very beginning. The fantasy elements are unusual and interesting, and there were plenty of surprises along the way. I found it an enjoyable book to listen to - Allen Corduner does an excellent job of ratcheting up the tension with his storytelling style. I am looking forward to listening to the next book in this exciting series.

Books in the Keys to the Kingdom series:

1. Mister Monday
2. Grim Tuesday
3. Drowned Wednesday
4. Sir Thursday
5. Lady Friday
6. Superior Saturday (forthcoming July 2008 - U.S.)
7. Lord Sunday (forthcoming date tbd)

Mister Monday (#1 in the Keys to the Kingdom series) by Garth Nix; narrated by Allan Corduner (Listening Library, 2003)

Also reviewed at:
Reading Adventures
Gamila's Review
Marianne the Librarian
Sarah the Librarian

6 comments:

  1. I had to stop reading your review because I was hooked after the first paragraph and I have it on my tbr pile. I just took it off the shelf and am very tempted to read it next and then come back and read your thoughts. Love Garth Nix's work.

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  2. I've heard of Garth Nix recently but I can't say I've ever read anything by him. Very good review!

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  3. This time I won't be heading for Amazon to add one more book to my wishlist as customary after reading your reviews :P The reason being the fact that I already own this one! Now I just have to read it, and after reading your thoughts, I can't wait to.

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  4. Cath - I know you will enjoy this one! I'll be looking forward to your review.

    Ladytink - I have enjoyed everything he's written so far, and it's good to know I have six more books in the series to go. I was very sad when I finished the Sabriel trilogy.

    Nymeth - I'm glad I won't have to feel guilty about it! :-) I'm sure you'll like it, and I'm looking forward to hearing what you think when you get to it.

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  5. I am working my way through this series at the moment.

    My review of Mister Monday is here

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  6. Thanks for the link, Marg - I've added it to my review.

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