Lord Sunday: Satisfying conclusion to Nix’s epic

fantasy book reviews science fiction book reviewsbook review Garth Nix The Keys to the Kingdom 7. Lord SundayLord Sunday by Garth Nix

In the concluding installment of Garth Nix’s The Keys to the Kingdom, Arthur Penhaglion has to organize an assault on the Incomparable Gardens, home to Lord Sunday, who controls the last part of the Architect’s Will. But Arthur isn’t the only one trying to liberate the last magical fragment of the will — he also faces the armies of Serious Saturday and the Piper, both intent on reaching the Will before Arthur can free it to join the other six parts (which will allow the will to be fulfilled). And Arthur has to get the Will soon, because the House is falling to the forces of Nothing, and if it reaches the Will first, all will be undone — including his life back at home.

I had only read the first book in The Keys to the Kingdom series (Mister Monday) before I began Lord Sunday, the seventh and concluding book, but Garth Nix catches the reader up on details without overburdening the narrative with extraneous exposition. The first book set up the operation of the world well enough that I was able to follow the story without any significant difficulty. (Rebecca’s reviews, above, help, too.)

Arthur has gained enormous powers by this point in the series, and constantly struggles with the temptations of wielding phenomenal amounts of power, yet he has also stayed true to his core values. Since he loses some of his humanness each time he uses the magical Keys, Arthur has to rely on his own mental abilities much of the time to keep from turning into one of the Denizens of the House. The only reason he is in the House in the first place is to protect his family back at home from the disease and destruction caused by the appearance of a Denizen in the mortal realms. Though he acts nobly, at times I was surprised by Arthur’s trust in the other characters. After all the deception and competing agendas going on amongst the seven keepers of the Will, his willingness to trust implicitly in the Will struck a false note to me.

The full supporting cast of characters is here as well. Leaf, Suzy, and the martinet Dame Primus are the core of Arthur’s support system, but other people move around on the periphery in amusing, and sometimes unexpected, ways. Suzy adopts a Sorceror, Giac, and Leaf accidentally ends up in charge of a monstrous beastwort. These small details help flesh out Nix’s world.

However, there are so many characters that need page time and so many story lines to be resolved that at times the pacing was a bit erratic and choppy. Because all the characters are involved in adventures of their own, Nix jumps back and forth between storylines so frequently that it makes the narrative seem disjointed. Additionally, everyone is in so much danger throughout the entire book that there wasn’t anywhere for the reader to pause and a catch a metaphorical breath.

On the whole, Lord Sunday is a satisfying conclusion to a series which is full of interesting characters and moral dilemmas. Arthur has to make some difficult choices in this tale, and some of his choices are bad. Watching the consequences play out, without the traditional happy ending, makes for an emotionally satisfying tale for young readers.

The Keys to the Kingdom — (2003-2010) Ages 9-12. Publisher: Seven days. Seven keys. Seven virtues. Seven sins. One mysterious house is the doorway to a very mysterious world — where one boy is about to venture and unlock a number of fantastical secrets.

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RUTH ARNELL (on FanLit's staff January 2009 — August 2013) earned a Ph.D. in political science and is a college professor in Idaho. From a young age she has maxed out her library card the way some people do credit cards. Ruth started reading fantasy with A Wrinkle in Time and The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe — books that still occupy an honored spot on her bookshelf today. Ruth and her husband have a young son, but their house is actually presided over by a flame-point Siamese who answers, sometimes, to the name of Griffon.

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