Thursday, November 26, 2009

Sir Thursday

This is the fourth installment in the children's fantasy/adventure series Keys to the Kingdom, in which twelve-year-old Arthur Penhaligon becomes the unwilling rightful Heir to the keys of the kingdom. These keys are found in the House, which is the second creation of the Architect who created the universe, and its role is to record the events that take place in the Secondary Realms. When the Architect left, she left a Will in her place to carry out her wishes. But the Trustees, called the Morrow Days (one named for each day of the week, divided up the Will into seven parts, weakening it so they could pursue their own ends.

When Arthur is brought into the picture in the first book, he is not thrilled about his new role. He just wants to live a normal life with his family, but now all the Morrow Days are trying to remove him from the picture any way they can. So far he has come up against Mister Monday, Grim Tuesday and Drowned Wednesday, and while Arthur just wants to go home, each successive Morrow Day seems determined to attack him. The opening of this book finds an identical version of Arthur, created from Nothing, sent into Arthur's world. Arthur cannot go home now - the presence of the two of them in the Secondary Realms could rip apart the fabric of the universe. Arthur's friend Leaf agrees to go back to try to neutralize his double, known as the Skinless Boy. Her mission is incredibly dangerous, because if the boy manages to touch her, he will transmit a kind of mold spore that will infect her brain, enabling him to experience and control her thoughts.

Meanwhile, Arthur is tricked into being drafted into the army, and he has no choice but to join as a recruit. He faces dangers there, as well, and worst of all he is completely on his own. The Nithlings that have invaded are like nothing anyone has seen before in the House, and the army is up against a force much more powerful and unified than they could have imagined. To add to Arthur's troubles, it seems that the more he uses magic in the House, the more he is becoming a Denizen - a being who will eventually be unable to leave the House - and see his family again.

This book got off to a rather slow start, but once it got rolling it was very exciting and, I think, is one of my favorites so far. I enjoyed the sections from Leaf's point of view, getting to know her better, and Arthur grows up a bit in this book. He is still upset about his responsibilities as the rightful Heir, but he is coming to understand their importance.

The series is exciting and full of fantastical adventures that fans of books such Percy Jackson, Harry Potter and the Unfortunate Events would be sure to enjoy. I particularly appreciate the mythological elements of the series. Kids won't need to understand that each of the Morrow Days represents one of the seven deadly sins (in this one Sir Thursday is definitely wrath), nor that each part of the Will represents a virtue (prudence, temperance, faith, hope, etc.) in order to enjoy the books, but the symbolism adds resonance either way. I was also reminded of Joseph Campbell's books about heroes, as Arthur's journey is the prototypical hero's path. Aside from the symbolism, the books are so creative and offer settings full of fantastical imagery that create a constant sense of wonder.

The book ends with a teaser glimpse of Arthur's next foe, Lady Friday, and it appears she will be a most wily and sinister opponent. The audio versions are an excellent way to experience these books, and the narrator, Allan Corduner, is a skillful storyteller, giving each character a unique voice.

Books in the Keys to the Kingdom series:
1. Mister Monday
3. Drowned Wednesday
4. Sir Thursday
5. Lady Friday
6. Superior Saturday
7. Lord Sunday (forthcoming March 2010)

Sir Thursday (#4 in the Keys to the Kingdom Series) by Garth Nix; narrated by Allan Corduner (Listening Library, 2007)

2 comments:

  1. I read the first book in this series and then just sort of stalled. I will have to read the rest in 2010!

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  2. Kailana - I kind of stalled, too - it just sort of slipped my mind for a while there, and I was pleased by how much I enjoyed this fourth one. It's made me excited to get to #5!

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