Friday, October 14, 2011

One Boy, Seven Keys and a Whole Lot of Nothing (The Keys to the Kingdom)


Okay, so today I'm doing a book review on the Keys to the Kingdom series by Garth Nix. There are 7 books in total (one for each day of the week and each of the seven sins) and they are;

1. Mister Monday (Sloth)
2. Grim Tuesday (Greed)
3. Drowned Wednesday (Gluttony)
4. Sir Thursday (Wrath)
5. Lady Friday (Lust)
6. Superior Saturday (Envy)
7. Lord Sunday (Pride)

Now I'm going to review the series as a whole, as opposed to each individual book, just because I think this method works better for series. I mean, if you read one book in the series and really like it, it can be annoying to find out that the others are awful.

First Paragraph: (From Mister Monday)

"They had tried to destroy the Will, but that proved to be beyond their power. So they broke it, in two ways. It was broken physically, torn apart, with the fragments of heavy parchment scattered across both space and time. It was broken in spirit because not one clause of it had been fulfilled."

Anyway, I started this series I think when it first came out in 2000. I was a pre-teen and probably just a little young for the demographic, but I loved it. I found it at a school book fair and went back every year to get the next one. I recently went back to my bookshelf and decided to re-read the series, as I had never actually finished it. The last book came out in 2009 and I only bought it about a month or so ago, just because I hate having an unfinished series on my bookshelf.

Okay, the plot. Basically, the story revolves around our protagonist- Arthur. In the start of the first book we are told that he has pretty serious asthma and (due to an overexerting gym teacher- isn't it always) he nearly dies. But he is saved by some mysterious characters who pop out of thin air. Now he's been chosen, whether he likes it or not- which he doesn't. So the series follows Arthur and his Piper's child friend Suzy, as they try to defeat their enemies and typical other hero stuff. Along the way, they (of course) make friends, are betrayed and have genuinely terrifying obstacles to overcome.
Garth Nix has always, and will always, be one of my favourite writers. This series was part of my pre-teen childhood, The Old Kingdom series was part of my young teen years and I still love them to this day, along with his many non-series books.

Now, this series is aimed for young teens (I'd say from about maybe 11 or 12 till about 15 or 16ish) but if you're a fan of GN's books, then you'll probably love this. At times, I feel like it can be a little slow, but each book is about 400 pages or so, and I think can be read in a day if you're part of the older audience. You could probably even read 2 a day if you skim read- but I really hate doing that. So, one week out of your life to read this series isn't so bad, is it?

I think my favourite book of the series is maybe Mister Monday, because that's when it all starts, everything is introduced and we really feel like we're learning about the world as Arthur does. I might also say Lord Sunday was my favourite as well, depending on my mood, just because it's the end, everything gets wrapped up, but also, there is a slightly darker note to this (and I'd say the last 3 or 4) book, as we see arthur struggling to keep his humanity precedent over the power of the keys.

All in all, I'd give this series a 4 out of 5. It's a classic of my childhood, that has followed me into adulthood and I find the characters charming and pretty well thought out with enough background info to keep us happy. I also really liked the way that each of the 7 "Trustees" were denoted a Deadly Sin. And it really shows. Each one is different from the next and have their own story and reasons behind what they do. Arthur as the unwilling protagonist has to deal with being forced into situations that he would rather no nothing about. And the little touches that Garth Nix adds to the story, such as paper wings, everyone loving tea and diseases being a highly coveted product, that can easily be removed as easily as a hat, make this a very enjoyable read. There is also plenty of magic, though it's not described as that. Which definitely makes this a fantasy, adventure story. There is also the constant threat of Nothing in the book, which is used in some dark ways by some of the characters, as well as some creepy contraptions.

In conclusion, I would say that this series is a very good story about a boy who nearly dies and this leads him into a world that he's forced to save, whilst just wanting to go home and be a normal boy. In the last 2 books, I think Garth Nix adds a very good discussion that our protagonist has with himself about no holding back anymore, as he realizes that if he hadn't been pulled into this world, he would have died and that would have been it. So instead, he focuses all his energy and power into saving the people he cares about and trying to do what is right. For a 12- year old boy, I think he becomes very grown-up and we are shown the aging process. The things that make it no longer the boy he was, and that is a journey I'm sure many people will enjoy in years to come.

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