Goldenhand is the long awaited fifth book in the Abhorsen series that began with the novel Sabriel way back in 1995. If you’ve been waiting over 20 years for this book, good news; it doesn’t disappoint.
Everyone’s favourite Second Assistant Librarian, Lirael, is finally stepping into her own. Previous adventures have seen her become a master of the arcane arts and a protector of the realm, but she has also lost a hand in the process of binding a great evil. Now she has a new hand, one of gilded steel and ‘safe’ magic, the titular Goldenhand. Events conspire to ruin everything that Lirael and her friends have worked for thus far, and once more a great danger threatens the Old Kingdom one that not only threatens the living but Death itself.
Goldenhand is not a book you can easily dip into; Nix has not designed the story so you can pull the stories out of sequence, so go and read Sabriel and the rest before you start with this one. For those of you who know all about the mysteries of The Charter and libraries of Clayr, then this is pretty much more of the same. At this point in the ongoing narrative, many of the secrets (and interesting locations) in the world have already been explored and examined, so it’s the characters that matter here.
The heroes have grown since we’ve first met them; Nix primarily focuses on his characters first before concentrating on any world building. Goldenhand is pretty much all about Lirael and Nick; those looking for more on Sam, Sabriel and Touchstone will have to be a bit more patient (though they are in it.)
Pacing wise, it’s the same as before; slow to begin and then getting rapidly faster and more engaging as we continue. Nix creates a roller-coaster narrative. This means it’s a thrilling read (after an initially slow start) but alas it’s also stuck onto straight lines. It would be unfair to dismiss this as ‘just another Garth Nix book’. It’s every bit as excellent as Sabriel, and totally worth every minute of your time.
GOLDENHAND (THE OLD KINGDOM) / AUTHOR: GARTH NIX / PUBLISHER: HOT KEY BOOKS / RELEASE DATE: OUT NOW (1ST JUNE SOFTCOVER)