Review: Goldenhand by Garth Nix

Goldenhand by Garth Nix (UK edition)

Goldenhand by Garth Nix (UK edition)

Title: Goldenhand (The Old Kingdom Series, 5)
Author: Garth Nix
Genre: Fantasy, Young Adult
Publisher: Hot Key Books (4th October 2016)

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 left unconscious by an attack from 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, a messenger is trying to reach Lirael with a dire warning from her long-dead mother, Arielle, 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 must be forestalled not only in the living world, but also in the cold, remorseless river of Death.

Goldenhand is the long-awaited fifth instalment of Garth Nix’s New York Times bestselling Old Kingdom series.

Rating: ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️ (4 stars)

GOLDENHAND is the fifth book in Garth Nix’s sprawling young adult fantasy Old Kingdom series. This book continues the story from ABHORSEN, so there will be some spoilers from previous books in this review. When the Abhorsen-in-Waiting, Lirael, gets called to deal with a Free Magic creature that is the Wall she discovers Nicholas Sayre unconscious and deeply tainted with Free Magic. Unsure what is going on, or how to help him Lirael decides to seek help at her childhood home, the Clayr’s Glacier. Meanwhile, a messenger is searching for Lirael with a warning from her mother about the Witch With No Face.

Picking up GOLDENHAND and giving it a try was, I’ll be honest, a bit of a gamble for me. I absolutely adored SABRIEL, but LIRAEL and ABHORSEN didn’t quite match it but were okay, and CLARIEL just left me cold. I didn’t even realise there were going to be more books in this series until I saw this book on Amazon. For me, GOLDENHAND marks a return to the series that I enjoyed so much. In this book Nix manages to recapture some of the old magic, and although the pace is slow at points I found myself enjoying this book.

One of the things that I most enjoyed about GOLDENHAND was the return of some of my favourite characters from the series, although some are pretty brief. GOLDENHAND really showcases how far Sabriel and Lirael have come since we first met them. Lirael in particular has come a long way from being a Second Assistant Librarian for the Clayr. We also get to see a bit more of Nicholas Sayre than we have in previous books and short stories. Nix also introduces a rather intriguing new character in the form of the messenger searching out Lirael.

As far as plot goes, GOLDENHAND is fairly typical for a book in the Old Kingdom series – a great danger threatens the Old Kingdom, and the dead walk when they should not – so if you’re hoping for something a bit different with this book, then I think you’ll be disappointed. That being said, Nix does show more of the world of the Old Kingdom and there are very definite links to the previous four books in the series – GOLDENHAND serves to tie all the different plot threads together in a way that hasn’t happened before, and answers a couple of questions I’d had.

Overall I think GOLDENHAND is a good, solid, addition to the Old Kingdom series. If you have enjoyed at least one of the books in the series so far – from the first to the last published – then I think you will like this one too. The ending of this book left me a little nonplussed. On the one hand I think it worked well; Nix drew everything together in terms of the plot mentioned in the blurb. On the other hand, I very much felt like this book was just a stepping-stone to setup future books in the series. And to be honest, I’m not sure if I think that is a good thing or not.

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