Goldenhand by Garth Nix
Genre: Fantasy / Young Adult
Publisher: Hot Key
My Rating: 5/5
Synopsis: Lirael is no longer a shy Second Assistant Librarian. She is the Abhorsen-in-Waiting, with dead creatures to battle and Free Magic entities to bind. When Lirael saves Nicholas Sayre after he is attacked by a hideous Free Magic creature, she finds he is deeply tainted with Free Magic. Lirael must seek help for him at the Clayr’s Glacier – her childhood home.
But even as she returns to the Clayr, clouds are gathering. A messenger is trying to reach Lirael with a dire warning from her long-dead mother about the Witch with No Face. But who is the Witch, and what is she planning?
Once more a great danger threatens the Old Kingdom, and it must be forestalled not only in the living world, but also in the cold, remorseless river of Death.
This book was provided by the publisher in exchange for an honest review. It has not affected my opinion of the book in any way.
This review will contain no spoilers for Goldenhand and only contains very minor spoilers from the previous books, so if you’re new to the series, read on if you want to!
As I have said so many times on this blog, the Old Kingdom series is my absolute favourite. I was extremely lucky to get an ARC of Goldenhand, seemingly turning up at the right time and place at YALC to get my hands on a copy. So, after all the excitement, I had high hopes of this novel. And, of course, I wasn’t disappointed.
Let me just start by saying that to get the most out of this book, you need to have read both The Creature in the Case from the Across the Wall anthology and Clariel. It’s not absolutely necessary, but it does overlap with The Creature in the Case, so read that first if you don’t want Goldenhand to spoil the events of that novella. As for Clariel, Goldenhand doesn’t really spoil any plot points from Clariel, but it well better your understanding and enjoyment of Goldenhand if you’ve read Clariel first. And, of course, you will need to have read Sabriel, Lirael and Abhorsen.
So, what did I love about Goldenhand? Everything! Garth Nix once again weaves a dark, lyrical tale of magic and intrigue. The novel centres mostly around Lirael and Nicholas Sayre, but old favourites Sabriel and Touchstone appear, as well as Sam and Ellimere, and a few more… It was great to be back with these characters again after a few years away from them. I found myself easily slipping back into the world, only needing to refresh my memory a little around the events of Abhorsen.
The story is gritty and very fast-paced, but is injected with a good amount of humour that made me laugh out loud at some points. I laughed, I cried, I worried, but I loved it all. This book will definitely please old fans, like me, but is also something for new fans to look forward to; they can rest assured that the series doesn’t falter after Abhorsen.
Goldenhand also introduces us to parts of the Old Kingdom we have previously never explored. We travel to the lands north of the Clayr’s Glacier – the steppe where the horse-nomads roam, and the Great Rift beyond. From these nomad clans comes a young girl named Ferin, desperate to deliver a message to Lirael from her dead mother, Arielle. I really loved Ferin and her journey. We got to learn so much more about the northern reaches of the Old Kingdom and the people who inhabit it. There is also clearly a lot more still to be discovered so I hope Garth Nix will take us to these places and people in future novels.
This mix of new with old was excellent. We get chapters centred around previously unexplored lands, and then chapters filled with well-loved places, like the Clayr’s Glacier and The Wall. And don’t worry, there are plenty of battles with the Dead and Free Magic creatures. Also, the plot is original in terms of the series; it doesn’t feel like Nix has just regurgitated the plot from Sabriel or one of the others.
What’s more, there’s just so much scope in these novels and it’s all written so convincingly. The pacing is fast, the prose is tight, the characters are complex and likeable; I hope to be reading these books for years to come! It’s a very unique Fantasy series and I can’t compare it to any others. It doesn’t have to borrow heavily from other Fantasy novels or rework old tropes, instead each installment, as well as the world and characters themselves, feels fresh and original.
So, I don’t really want to mention much more as I’ve tried not to reveal too much about the previous novels, in case any people who are new to the series read this, or to give too much away about the plot of Goldenhand. However, it is a deeply satisfying read and I promise it won’t disappoint.
Goldenhand will be released 4th October in the UK.
Have you read the Old Kingdom series? Did you enjoy it? Are you excited for Goldenhand? Let me know in the comments below!