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Goldenhand by Garth Nix
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Showing 1-5 of 7 (next | show all)
As I would expect from one of Garth Nix's Old Kingdom novels Goldenhand is chockful of suspense, bravery and fortitude. What I didn't see coming were the inklings of young love, not once but twice, but what I did hope for were resolutions of threads that had been left slightly hanging from previous books in the series, and in this I was not disappointed.

If in the end I was disappointed it was in the actual execution of those resolutions, which felt a bit perfunctory in the last few chapters. This isn't to detract from the otherwise masterful storytelling which had this reader continually tempted to read just a few more pages, and perhaps a little bit more after that; or from the convincing worldbuilding that has suffused and sustained the Old Kingdom sequence now for five novels and a couple of novellas.

Lirael, the sympathetic protagonist of the second of the novels, is now Abhorsen-in-Waiting and a powerful Charter Magic necromancer. When the Abhorsen Sabriel (focus of the first book in the series) decides to take a well-earned honeymoon with King Touchstone, young Lirael is left in charge to take responsibility for dealing with reanimated dead creatures plus a Free Magic entity which suddenly emerges to create a crisis to the south of the Wall. Meanwhile, in the far north of the Old Kingdom a young woman named Ferin is being pursued by malevolent beings who track her flight to the south. Is her mission linked with the troubles Lirael is facing further south? You can guarantee it. And what else is it that binds the fates of these two resourceful young women?

The author presents this long novel (over 400 pages in the paperback edition) in a very cinematic way: the settings are as vivid as ever, and our attention is constantly shifting from one protagonist's woes to another. Cliffhangers sustain our attention from chapter to chapter; we sense that many 'extras' (as it were) have an existence beyond the action, however brief their appearance on these pages may be; and the action is carefully and realistically paced, with no obvious longeurs when the action appears to be freeze-framed for a bit of info-dump. All very skilful.

Then there are the mysteries to be solved, those ones that the protagonists can't fathom and which drive the action forward. To me it seemed the plotting was less about the what or the why, more about the how. How does Lirael discover what happened to her mother? How does Ferin get her message to Lirael? How does any protagonist ascertain the connection between Chlorr of the Mask, the Witch With No Face and Clariel, this last being the protagonist of the prequel bearing her name? How do certain couples who are clearly attracted to each other reveal their hopes and declare their feelings? And how long will it be before anyone grasps the true nature of Nicholas Sayre's transformed being?

This was certainly an ambitious project, to draw these threads together. There is so much to enjoy in Goldenhand -- details that make me smile, old objects and acquaintances that make a reappearance -- that it feels a mite churlish to be critical. But those threads I mentioned were tied up far too neatly -- and sometimes too quickly -- almost as if the author was getting bored or, more likely, alerted to the increasing length of this instalment. In particular the treatment of young love, sensitive though it strove to be, appeared at times to be mawkish, icky even; but maybe I'm just a little too jaded to relate to it -- been there, done that, worn the proverbial T-shirt.

What next? Well, this novel definitely extends our knowledge of what exists beyond the Old Kingdom. As Mike Schley's new illustration indicates, the lands beyond Mogget's map (which graced previous instalments) have increased fivefold, with new features and settlements marked in, and it distorts any vision of the Old Kingdom and Ancelstierre being stand-ins for Scotland and England. We see deserts, steppes, mountain ranges, rivers and a great rift valley to the north and west, only some of which we explore in Goldenhand.

From all this I wonder if those plot strands weren't all tied up, that maybe there are yet more threads to tease out and admire. ( )
  ed.pendragon | Aug 3, 2018 |
I was so, so excited when I was approved for the ARC from Edelweiss, and so, so disappointed when the book suddenly ended and after some frantic searching discovered it was only a partial. (Why, Edelweiss? Whhhyyy?) I wouldn't have requested it had I realized it wasn't the entire story, and part of my reason for requesting it was in hopes of figuring out how to promote it to my YA and tween readers, since I really want to purchase it for my library branch, but the Abhorsen books really don't circulate and our budget is tight. Without knowing how it ends, I'm not sure quite how to go about this...

Because here's the problem: Barring some type of craziness in the second half, this is on track to be a default five star read for me. I LOOOVE the Abhorsen series, and it fills me with such joy to be able to continue Lirael's story and hopefully wrap up some of the stray ends lingering from the first trilogy. The writing is up to par, I'm really enjoying the addition of Ferin and her story, the world is expanding nicely, and it's great to see all of the side stories tying in. I am also pretty sure that no one writes an extended chase scene quite as well as Garth Nix. (The tension is killing me!)

But the other part of me that imagines trying to convince others to read this book is hyper aware that a) you really need to read the other books first, which is fine, and b) nothing much has actually happened twenty-some chapters into the book. Now, Lirael's story appeared to promising to really get going and Ferin's ended on a big cliffhanger, so I am thinking the pay-off must be coming soon. It's kind of like how I am able to convince people get past the slow beginning of Six of Crows by promising awesomeness to come; Six of Crows makes good on this promise. I am hoping Goldenhand does as well. ...Not that the first half of Gioldenhand is slow; it has plenty of momentum. It just creates an anxiety for the destination.

Yes, I am aware this mostly me griping about only getting to read half of the book, but as I am obligated to review ARCs and generally lazy about doing so for everything else I read, I am doing what I can.

---

Leaving the above in place because that "craziness in the second half"? It happened. The second half (really last 1/3 is probably more accurate but I digress) was really disappointing. It felt incomplete and rushed and, well, poorly written (broadly speaking). I feel like we were told rather than shown a lot of things, and my emotional investment just wasn't there. As a long time Abhorsen fan, this really breaks my heart to admit. But I spent the entire first half of the book expecting this to be the set up of a new trilogy and just feel like Nix punted on the plot here. Just when I was really beginning to connect with Ferrin she practically disappears, and while I admit to having always been "meh" about Lirael/Nick, I would have much preferred their romance to have burned a little slower. The immediate make-outs and constant hand holding...I just wasn't feeling it.

That said, it was still a pleasure to return to the Old Kingdom...and I hope to do so again some day. (I'm still waiting on an Ellimere book.)
( )
1 vote nwessler | Jun 20, 2018 |
I'm going to have to read the rest of the series now, but Goldenhand is a fine stand-alone novel and a very enjoyable read. Garth Nix's world building is amazing (up there, and reminiscent of, Philip Pullman's His Dark Materials series), and his characterization is very well done. Getting to see him talk about writing was fun as well, and getting a signed copy of the book....well!
( )
  L_Will | May 28, 2018 |
Goldenhand is the fifth book in Garth Nix's Abhorsen series. I have mixed feelings about this book. It felt good to be back in the Old Kingdom again after being away for so long. This world and these characters are some of my favorites. Garth Nix's writing is great as always. Yet the story felt strangely flat.

Chlorr of the Mask had retreated to the far north after her defeat at the hands of Sabriel, seemingly disappeared and no longer a threat. Or that's what everyone wanted to believe. A young nomad woman named Ferin has been tasked with a mission to deliver a message to the Clayr: the Witch With No Face has gathered the clans together and is preparing to launch an attack on the Old Kingdom. Hunted by the witch's supporters and chased by her creatures Ferin must deliver the warning in time if the Kingdom is to survive the attack to come.

The story is told from two alternating points of view, Ferin's and Lireal's. The first half of the book is Ferin running from pursuers while Lireal worries over Nicholas Sayre. This throws the pacing of the story off. At around 60% the stories come together, the pacing evens out and the climax and final battles are satisfying, if rushed. Now that I think about it, most everything feels rushed. I think this would have been better being split into two full length books so Nix could explore ideas, new areas of the world and character relationships more.

I'm glad to have read it and to have closure for some loose ends from the previous four books. While enjoyable I don't see myself rereading this one where I definitely plan to reread (or relisten to) the original trilogy at some point. ( )
1 vote Narilka | May 14, 2018 |
My denial is kicking in. Why did Goldenhand have to finish??

Why couldn’t it have been longer?? No, really why?

I’m off to start the series again at the very beginning! ( )
  DaffiMere | May 12, 2018 |
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To Anna, Thomas, and Edward,
and to all my family and friends
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In the Sixth Precinct, the inexorable current of the river that flowed through Death slowed almost to a stop.
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0061561584, Hardcover)

The long-awaited fifth installment in Garth Nix’s New York Times bestselling Old Kingdom series, for readers who enjoy series by Rae Carson, Kristin Cashore, Scott Westerfeld, and Cassandra Clare.

Goldenhand takes place six months after the events of Abhorsen and follows the novella Nicholas Sayre and the Creature in the Case, which is featured in Across the Wall.

Lirael lost one of her hands in the binding of Orannis, but now she has a new hand, one of gilded steel and Charter Magic. On a dangerous journey, Lirael returns to her childhood home, the Clayr’s Glacier, where she was once a Second Assistant Librarian. There, a young woman from the distant North brings her a message from her long-dead mother, Arielle. It is a warning about the Witch with No Face. But who is the Witch, and what is she planning? Lirael must use her new powers to save the Old Kingdom from this great danger—and it must be forestalled not only in the living world but also in the cold, remorseless river of Death.

(retrieved from Amazon Sat, 07 May 2016 15:30:04 -0400)

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. She's also a Remembrancer, wielder of the Dark Mirror. Lirael lost one of her hands in the binding of Orannis, but now she has a new hand, one of gilded steel and Charter Magic. When Lirael finds Nicholas Sayre lying unconscious after being attacked by a hideous Free Magic creature, she uses her powers to save him. But Nicholas is deeply tainted with Free Magic. Fearing it will escape the Charter mark that seals it within his flesh and bone, Lirael seeks help for Nick at her childhood home, the Clayr's Glacier. Even as Lirael and Nick return to the Clayr, a young woman from the distant north braves the elements and many enemies in a desperate attempt to bring a message to Lirael from her long-dead mother, Arielle. Ferin brings a dire warning 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.… (more)

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