The Keys to the Kingdom: Sir Thursday
Reviewed: November 27, 2008
By: Garth Nix
Publisher: Scholastic Books
344 pages, $9.50
When we left Arthur Penhaligon at the end of Drowned Wednesday he had not managed
to return to our reality after his third adventure in the House. As the Rightful
Heir of the Architect, the designer and absent ruler of all realities, the reluctant
Arthur had been tasked to reclaim the seven parts of the Architect’s Will
and depose the seven Trustees who were mishandling the House and, by extension,
damaging all the various dimensions in the Secondary Realms of which Arthur’s
home is a part.
Arthur didn’t go home, but something that looked like him did. The Skinless
Boy is a double with the power to control others by means of a sorcerous spore
mould which is passed by touch. Arthur can’t get back to Earth as long
as it is there, so one of his friends, Leaf, is dispatched to find the piece
of Arthur’s clothing which was used to create the creature.
Meanwhile, Arthur finds himself bereft of his memory, due to being “washed
between the ears”, forced to serve in Sir Thursday's army (the fourth
level of the house is very military) and trapped into fighting against the surprisingly
organized hordes of Nithlings (beings created out of the original Nothing) who
are attempting to invade the House.
Just before he was caught in the draft, so to speak, Arthur had learned that
his continued use of magic in his struggle to claim his heritage is slowly transforming
him into a Denizen of the House. If he passes the 60% mark in his saturation
with magic, he will never be simply human again. It appears that this is the
outcome which the Will would prefer so Arthur now has to think in terms of a
two front struggle: how to preserve reality while not being transformed in the
Because Arthur spends so much of this book not knowing who he is, there’s
a larger role in events for his friends, both human and denizen. Leaf and Suzy
carry out missions that are essential to Arthur’s success this time and
this expands the scope of the story quite a bit, allowing us to see what’s
going on back on Earth while Arthur is away.
Annoyingly, this book ends in another cliffhanger and we’ll all have to
wait for Lady Friday to see what happens next.