Before we start, Lord Sunday is the seventh and final book in Garth Nix’s Keys to the Kingdom series. Obviously I cannot talk about the events in this book without alluding to spoilers in the previous books. I will also be referring to concepts from previous books that will not make sense to anyone who has not read at least part of the series.
I started reading The Keys to the Kingdom probably about six years ago. I adored the ideas presented in the book. Suzy quickly became my favourite character of the year! The fourth book was out already but I had to wait for the publication of the fifth… which then lead to waiting on the sixth… and finally a two year wait for the final book. Considering the fact that Superior Saturday ends on the mother of all cliffhangers, I was at first anxiously awaiting the arrival of Lord Sunday. Publication got pushed back, though, and by the time it was actually released, I was no longer quite so excited about getting the conclusion to this series. I bought it, of course, as soon as I found it in the shop, but it just got put on a shelf. I realised that, really, I ought to read the other six books first to refresh my memory but never had neither the time nor the inclination, so in the end I just decided to go ahead and read it and hope that Mr Nix provides enough clues to jog my memory where necessary.
Presentation: I have the British edition of this book. It has by far the prettiest cover (in my opinion). I’m going to term it a “squat” book – it’s wider than you would expect to see given the vertical proportions. The font is quite large and well-spaced. There are 376 pages broken down into 30 chapters and an epilogue.
Story: Arthur Penhaligon is nearing the end of the quest set him by the Will of the Architect. He has defeated six of the seven trustees, taken the keys that give them their power, and freed the first six parts of the Will. Both Saturday and the Piper have launched attacks on the highest level of the house. Now he must go to the Incomparable Gardens and take on Lord Sunday.
While Arthur makes his final stand against Sunday, Suzy is dealing with the results of Nothing eating at all the lower areas of the House while Leaf is dealing with the aftermath of the actions Saturday set in motion on Earth.
Thoughts and impressions: This book picks up exactly where Superior Saturday left off: when Arthur fell through a hole in the ceiling of the upper house, potentially falling to his death thousands of feet below. Throughout the book there were enough clues to past events to allow me to piece together the more important parts of the series that I’d forgotten about.
Lord Sunday has always been a bit of a mysterious figure in the previous books. His name was bandied about a bit but he always seemed to keep to himself, unlike the penultimate villain, Saturday, who was always sticking her nose in Arthur’s business as of the very first book (if memory serves – and considering it’s probably been 4 or 5 years, memory might not serve). I’m not sure whether this leads me to consider Saturday the real villain of the piece. Even in his own book, Lord Sunday doesn’t receive any real fleshing out of his character and even his appearance is never described. I always got the feeling that he was on the verge of revealing some big secret to Arthur, but never quite managed to get there.
There are a lot of mythological references in the whole of the series (ex: Arthur Penhaligon = the chosen one = (King) Arthur Pendragon?), including many biblical references. Each of the seven trustees represents one of the seven deadly sins: Mister Monday = sloth; Grim Tuesday = greed; Drowned Wednesday = gluttony; Sir Thursday = anger; Lady Friday = lust; Superior Saturday = envy; Lord Sunday = pride. And I felt that Sunday’s pride kept him from really bringing Arthur into the fold of his plans, thus making him an obstacle because, even though he may be privy to information that Arthur (and the reader) is not aware of, he is unwilling to actually share this information.
By this time in the series, Arthur has lost all of his humanity from wielding the magic of the house, and watching him dealing with his sudden rages was interesting from the point of view of the evolution of his character. Even the affection he still feels for Elephant, a stuffed toy from his childhood, is very well portrayed, especially when circumstances lead him to accidentally bring Elephant to life as a Nithling.
Nothing, a mythical substance that pretty much deletes anything it touches from existence, is encroaching on all of the remaining areas of the House at a phenomenal rate, and while Arthur is facing Lord Sunday, Suzy has to make her way back to Dame Primus and her other allies. Suzy has always been my favourite character in this series! She’s so spunky and bossy and just fun! She makes new allies and meets up with old friends. One of these eventually includes Leaf, who had been trying to look after Friday’s victims but was forced to seek professional help to look after them after Saturday’s Noon ordered the bombing on the hospital (I never expected that to actually go through!) before being kidnapped by Sunday’s Dusk. Poor Leaf. Leaf also brings Daisy, a creature from the Incomparable Gardens, into the fold and Daisy is quite possibly the best newly introduced character in this book! The chapters alternate between Arthur, Suzy and Leaf until Suzy and Leaf join up with each other and then the point of view will often change within their shared chapter.
To say this book was pretty long – at 376 pages, I’m pretty sure it’s the longest book in the series – I didn’t get the feeling that all that much actually happened. There was very little action until it all happened at once towards the end and some of the shock things concerning the Will and the trustees had been obvious for a few books now. That said, the ending was a very interesting twist and not one that I saw coming – this is always good!
Style: Relatively simple but appropriate for the intended audience.
Final verdict: Maybe not what I was expecting in the long run, but definitely a fun – not to mention pretty open – ending. Very enjoyable final book in the series. 4 stars.
Extra notes: Aimed at and appropriate for younger readers. I would highly recommend this series for boys!