Having read and loved Garth Nix's OLD KINGDOM books (SABRIEL, LIRAEL, and ABHORSEN) as well as his SEVENTH TOWER series, I had pretty high expectations when I started in on SUPERIOR SATURDAY. I wasn't
disappointed. The action moves along quickly, with new and original presentations of magic at every turn, and major and minor characters worth cheering for (or, in the case of the antagonists, against).
The sixth book in Nix's KEYS TO THE KINGDOM series picks up right where the fifth book left off, making it a little confusing to understand at first, especially if you're a newcomer to the series, like I was when reading this. The book is certainly good enough to merit your going to the library and checking out all of the previous ones in order to get up to speed, but in case your library is as negligent as mine, here's the background that I wish I could have had going in.
Our protagonist, asthmatic twelve-year-old Arthur Penhaligon, through a series of complicated circumstances described in previous novels, is taken from his home on Earth and granted the power of being the Heir to the Kingdom. Nix's complicated but fascinating universe centers around a grand House that is the epicenter of all universes, and is ruled by seven Trustees, all named for the days of the week. Within the House, each Trustee has its own domain. As the Heir, Arthur's duty is to wrest the Keys to the Kingdom from the corrupt Trustees, and to recreate the Will of the Architect, which the Trustees have consistently disobeyed. The Architect is a mysterious figure responsible for creating both the House and the "secondary realms," including Earth.
In this sixth book in the series, Arthur is up against one of the toughest of the Trustees: Superior Saturday, with her power to work great sorceries with the help of the sixth Key. With the help of friends and acquaintances throughout the House, Arthur attempts to infiltrate Saturday's portion of the House and find the sixth part of the Architect's Will. He's running out of time, though, as the dangerously corrosive Nothing eats away at the House's foundations.
Arthur must retrieve the Key, and the next part of the Will, in time to ensure that the House is not destroyed--for if the epicenter of all universes is demolished, the secondary realms that depend upon its survival will also crumble and fall, making for the end of Earth and Arthur's home.
Nix always has a unique perspective on magic, and this series is no different in that respect. His innovations draw heavily upon archetypes and numerous different branches of mythology that add a richness and texture to his world, even if the average reader does not see them all on the first read-through. I also enjoyed his characterization of Arthur, a young boy who is taking on increasingly difficult tasks and succeeding at them, so that although he is young, there is a strength and maturity to his outlook. Of course, this doesn't prevent him from having his share of doubts.
Overall, I highly enjoyed this book and would recommend the series to anyone interested in fantasy adventure.
Reviewed by: Candace Cunard