Sunday, 7 March 2010

Sir Thursday by Garth Nix

March 2006, HarperCollins
432 pages, Paperback
Review Copy

Children's, Fantasy

Cushions: 5
Daggers: 5
Smiles: 5
Tissues: 1
Yunaleska's recommended rating: ♥♥♥♥

Summary from HarperCollins

Get ready for more brilliant page-turning fantasy from master, Garth Nix. On the fourth day there was war! Pick up with Arthur Penhaligon as his Keys to the Kingdom adventures continue in the mysterious House.
Following their adventures in the Border Sea, Arthur and Leaf head for home. But only Leaf gets through the Front Door. Arthur is blocked because someone – or something – has assumed his identity and is taking over his life. Before Arthur can take action, he is drafted by Sir Thursday and forced to join the Glorious Army of the Architect. The Army has its headquarters in the Great Maze, a defensive area of the House. Half of the Maze has already been dissolved by Nothing, and hordes of Nithlings emerge regularly to attack the rest. If the Nithling invasion can overcome the Army and the Great Maze, the House will be lost and the whole universe with it. While Leaf tries to banish Arthur's doppelgänger on earth, Arthur must survive his basic training, avoid getting posted to the Front and work out how he can free Part Four of the Will and gain the Fourth Key from Sir Thursday. If the latest, strongest and most dangerous Nithling offensive doesn't break through first…

This book's illustration is my favourite. It looks like a crocodile without legs, in a circle with its tail in its mouth. Yes, I'm strange and think crocodiles are cute. Especially the babies. I smiled when my guess of the crocodile was confirmed. It's actually a ring hat helps tells Arthur something very important. So that I don't spoil the story, all I will say is that I have a theory about what could happen in later books. I'll let you know if my theory is correct here.

I didn't like the prologue for this book. I found it a bit dull and boring. I'm glad I've read the other books and know Garth's style because if his had been a new book I may have stopped reading. Preparing for war and issuing orders is a situation I usually enjoy reading about, but there was very little humour or anything dynamic. It's rare for me not to find something redeeming about part of a book to talk about.

Because I peeked at the summary for Sir Thursday, the end of Drowned Wednesday made perfect sense. I wondered how Arthur would find out he couldn't return to his world. I thought that was pretty bad, but the stakes are a raised by many notches when word gets out that people are plotting to destroy the whole universe. I foresee that Arthur will have to make a lot of personal sacrifices to stop that from happening. My hope is that somehow he might get rewarded by the Architect at the last moment, so that he can go back to a semi-normal life. (see My Thoughts on Keys to the Kingdom series for an update on this).

None of the books so far hold a positive future for Arthur, but this fourth story is full of doom and gloom. Dame Primus greets Arthur with serious news, wih the promise of more doom and gloom. Arthur is on his own for a lot of the book, without lots of back up available. Never fear though, there is hope sparkling in the distance.

I understood that the Spirit-eater was bad news, with the horrifying details revealed to Arthur. However, I didn't take it that seriously until it does something that made my hair stand on end. There's definitely a minute element of horror in this book. Or at least what I'd call horror.

How Arthur gets drafted into Sir Thursday's army is very sneaky. I hoped the culprit for that trick would be revealed. At least Arthur learns valuable life skills during his stint in the army. I enjoyed watching his lessons and finding out how the recruits live. I've always been fascinated with details like the dorms, the mess hall etc. Definitely more interesting than the prologue! I get a sense of reality about the army and how the recruits are treated, not that I've had personal experience to compare it with. I think its good that war is portrayed in a realistic fashion, that it isn't glamourous.

In some ways Leaf has a more dangerous task than Arthur. At least Arthur had some level of protection in the army, under a new persona. There was very little protecting Leaf from the Spirit-eater's touch. Air doesn't count as a substance here.

After Leaf's desire not to have any more adventures, I hoped really hard that Leaf would get entangled in House business again. I cheered every moment that she had to stay longer in the House. I was eager to have her and Suzy interact because I thought there might be some funny moments when their characters clash. I guessed correctly that Leaf would return home. I was pleased with this because Arthur needed someone to keep an eye on the Spirit-eater, and be in place to help bring it down. I thought that like the other books so far, I would only really get to see Leaf when Arthur could observe her, so I nearly jumped up and down when she had her own chapters. Her adventures are just as cushion gripping as Arthur's. As are Suzy's, which are full of humour too.

I finally got to learn what happened when people are cleaned between the ears. It's as scary as what happens when the Spirit-eater is in contact with a person. No wonder Suzy was so scared of it. Once again it was exciting to have secondary characters who helped Arthur in his previous quests make an appearance.

Wednesday was a calm, sweet lady (sort of), and Thursday is a tyrant. The fourth Will is as sneaky as the form it takes (which I'm not overly keen on). What it did to the Piper made me laugh a lot. Arthur wasn't best pleased wih hat or how events turned out, but all things considering he is lucky to be alive and in a position to continue his quest.

Also in the book: medi-alert, shaving foam, a pocket, a raft.

Although Drowned Wednesday was good, Sir Thursday's action and suspense is back on par with Mister Monday and Grim Tuesday. As ever there was a huge twist at the en which made me so grateful that I only have to wait a few seconds before starting the next book, Lady Friday.

Garth Nix can be found on his website here.

Make sure you've read Mister Monday, Grim Tuesday and Drowned Wednesday.

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