When I first started reading for fun, I often found myself with an hour to pick a few (okay, maybe more than a few) books from the local public library to take home and devour. At the time, I distinctly remember prominently seeing the various books of the Keys to the Kingdom series by Garth Nix lining the bookshelves. No doubt his choice of titles was helpful here — who could resist the temptation of books like Mister Monday or Grim Tuesday? As it happened, however, I never actually got around to reading the books that I had walked past so many times until sometime in high school. Instead, my imagination was captured by a perhaps lesser-known series: the Old Kingdom, set in a world where the boundaries between life and death are a little more hazy than in reality.
Looking back, the Keys to the Kingdom setting was rather typical of fantasy in the mid-2000s: the modern-day Hero’s Journey, a transplantation of themes from the epic poems of Ancient Greece into yet another made-up world. But the Old Kingdom — that was one of my first exposures to the emotional depths of well-written prose. Though I haven’t re-read it in years, Lirael remains one of my favorite books, with well-written characters and a compelling story. And of course, the other books in the series are great, too!
As it happens, I was browsing Reddit for inspiration for today’s theme of “Hungry”, and stumbled upon the fact that, two decades after writing Sabriel, Garth Nix has returned to the Old Kingdom with Goldenhand. And so the various characters of the books were resurrected from the depths of my memory into the forefront of my mind: Kibeth, the Disreputable Dog; Lirael, both a Clayr and an Abhorsen and unsure of her place in the world; Sabriel, the classic hero; Mogget, who is Yrael; and so many more. Mogget, in particular, develops more and more in every book — always hungry, and yet seeking
“Life,” said Yrael, who was more Mogget than it ever knew. “Fish and fowl, warm sun and shady trees, the field mice in the wheat, under the cool light of the moon.”