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4.1 out of 5 stars
Superior Saturday (The Keys to the Kingdom, Book 6)
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
Arthur Penhaligan's week is almost over, but unfortunately it's not getting any better. Not for him, and not for the House.

In fact, just about everything is tumbling down in the penultimate book of Garth Nix's Keys to the Kingdom series, "Superior Saturday," in which Arthur finally encounters the malevolent sorceress who's been messing things up throughout the series. It's a suitably chaotic and haunting story, and Arthur's internal struggles and new discoveries are a pretty fascinating read -- but don't expect it to really end on anything but a massive cliffhanger.

Arthur receives an emergency call from his brother, who warns him that the Army is about to nuke their entire town. Desperate, Arthur tries to shield the town, but instead ends up slowing time. Unfortunately that is only one of his worries: the magic of the Keys is transforming Arthur's body and mind into something inhuman, and Nothing is eroding away the very foundations of the House. To stop it, he must somehow steal away Superior Saturday's power, and he has to rely on one of the less reliable forces in the House to smuggle himself and Suzy into Saturday's domain.

While Leaf and her pal struggle to save Friday's sleeping victims, Arthur explores Saturday's realm. Turns out Saturday is building a vast tower built by Piper's Children and overseen by sorcerers, so she can reach the Incomparable Gardens that Lord Sunday rules -- and what's more, Arthur is having a lot of trouble locating the Will. His only hope is to climb the tower with Saturday's sorcerous army -- but what awaits them at the top?

"Superior Saturday" is not just saturated in rain, but in desperation. A lot of bad things are happening all at once, since the House is about to collapse, the town is about to be bombed by the Army, all the Piper's rats and children are suspect, and Arthur has found that he can't even trust Dame Primus anymore. There are a lot of bad things going on in "Superior Saturday," but Nix also unfolds some intriguing new revelations about the House and its purpose, during another visit to the imprisoned Old One.

And Nix somehow loads all of this into the plot without making it feel clunky or infodumpy. He spins a suitably dark and gloomy atmosphere over Saturday's domain, full of steampunk-style machinary and lots of ever-drizzling rain. It moves pretty gradually for awhile, but speeds up after Arthur locates the Will, and bumps into another old enemy. And Nix isn't afraid to throw in some horror moments, such as an unfortunate Denizen whose body was dissolved by Nothing, or the chaotic attacks on Saturday's army during the climax.

The biggest problem is that "Superior Saturday" doesn't really end -- the action and tension slowly build for a long time, only to snap like a recoiling spring... on a cliffhanger. Rather than being story unto itself, it's the first half of a story that "Lord Sunday" will finish.

While Arthur seems to accept his transformation a bit too easily, his struggles with his inhuman thoughts ("For a moment he even felt like striking Scamandros, or forcing the Denizen to prostrate himself and beg forgiveness") and rapidly changing body are well-drawn. And Nix raises some intriguing questions about just what it is that Arthur is turning into, since it's made quite clear that he's not transforming into a run-of-the-mill Denizen.

While it has no real ending, "Superior Saturday" is a dark, mildly horrific ride through what is left of the House, and promises a spellbinding finale in the final Keys to the Kingdom novel. An enthralling little book, so long as you don't mind waiting for what comes next.
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
on 25 July 2008
I have loved every single other Keys to the Kingdom book. However i was disapponited by this one after the heights reached in Thursday and Friday. My main problem was that the novel doesn't have a proper ending. There should be at least three more chapters. Also the epic battle between Saturday and Arthur fails to occur. Questions are still left unanswered. A few plot lines from the previosu books are ignored. Still it is still a good read and i'm defiantly still looking forward to reading the final instalment.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
Having read and loved Garth Nix's OLD KINGDOM books (SABRIEL, LIRAEL, and ABHORSEN) as well as his SEVENTH TOWER series, I had pretty high expectations when I started in on SUPERIOR SATURDAY. I wasn't
disappointed. The action moves along quickly, with new and original presentations of magic at every turn, and major and minor characters worth cheering for (or, in the case of the antagonists, against).

The sixth book in Nix's KEYS TO THE KINGDOM series picks up right where the fifth book left off, making it a little confusing to understand at first, especially if you're a newcomer to the series, like I was when reading this. The book is certainly good enough to merit your going to the library and checking out all of the previous ones in order to get up to speed, but in case your library is as negligent as mine, here's the background that I wish I could have had going in.

Our protagonist, asthmatic twelve-year-old Arthur Penhaligon, through a series of complicated circumstances described in previous novels, is taken from his home on Earth and granted the power of being the Heir to the Kingdom. Nix's complicated but fascinating universe centers around a grand House that is the epicenter of all universes, and is ruled by seven Trustees, all named for the days of the week. Within the House, each Trustee has its own domain. As the Heir, Arthur's duty is to wrest the Keys to the Kingdom from the corrupt Trustees, and to recreate the Will of the Architect, which the Trustees have consistently disobeyed. The Architect is a mysterious figure responsible for creating both the House and the "secondary realms," including Earth.

In this sixth book in the series, Arthur is up against one of the toughest of the Trustees: Superior Saturday, with her power to work great sorceries with the help of the sixth Key. With the help of friends and acquaintances throughout the House, Arthur attempts to infiltrate Saturday's portion of the House and find the sixth part of the Architect's Will. He's running out of time, though, as the dangerously corrosive Nothing eats away at the House's foundations.

Arthur must retrieve the Key, and the next part of the Will, in time to ensure that the House is not destroyed--for if the epicenter of all universes is demolished, the secondary realms that depend upon its survival will also crumble and fall, making for the end of Earth and Arthur's home.

Nix always has a unique perspective on magic, and this series is no different in that respect. His innovations draw heavily upon archetypes and numerous different branches of mythology that add a richness and texture to his world, even if the average reader does not see them all on the first read-through. I also enjoyed his characterization of Arthur, a young boy who is taking on increasingly difficult tasks and succeeding at them, so that although he is young, there is a strength and maturity to his outlook. Of course, this doesn't prevent him from having his share of doubts.

Overall, I highly enjoyed this book and would recommend the series to anyone interested in fantasy adventure.

Reviewed by: Candace Cunard
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
VINE VOICEon 24 August 2008
Barcode: 9780007175116

And so we come to Superior Saturday, the 6th book in Garth Nix's fantastic Keys To The Kingdom series. What i've always liked about the series is the way so many elements of it seem so light hearted while on the other hand, there is always a far more mature, serious, darker side lurking just in the background, breaking through the the foreground every so often.

Never more so than Superior Saturday which really ups the stakes. In an interesting cut back to the events unfolding on Earth, the unnamed city now faces destruction by nukes as the army tries a last resort option to control the plague fears. I really enjoyed this aspect of the book and the cutting between Arthur and Leaf no longer feels as jarring as it did previously, Leaf's role in this book being particularly commendable as Nix works in a bit of contemporary action-thriller stuff which works as a nice counterpoint to the fantasy of Arthur's adventures in the house.

And so we come to our lead character himself, Arthur, and finally, he decides to just go for it and accept he's going to have to become a Denizen in order to save the House. I can't tell you how relieved i was when i read that part, finally he could use the key's abilities to their full extent and the way he stops time and holds back a giant wave of Nothing is pretty awe-inspiring cinematic stuff.

Obviously, with this new-found power, comes ever-greater dangers. Saturday is a sutiably aloof villain, Nix's imagery of her 10,000+ feet tower is fascinating as is the workings of its various machinery by the Piper's children. The ever-fabulous Suzy gets a fair share of action too, her cockney charms always serving up great moments humour here and there. The 6th part of the Will is also a likeable character, eager to work alongside Arthur, and along with his increasing powers means that this book just flows that bit better as Arthur is given more freedom.

In this also comes further devlopment of his character and the negative aspects the keys also bring, coming to the fore in momentary flashes of arrogance and anger. Arthur's battle to surpress this side of himself only adds to the dynamics of this book.

Following on from Nix's masterful handling of military elements in Sir Thursday we get another taste of this side of things as Arthur and Saturday's assorted Denizen's raid Sunday's Incomparable Gardens in the book's dramatic finale. It's a fantastic, high-tension end to the book that leads to perhaps the most sudden cliffhanger ever. This will without a doubt leave you wanting more and i'll confess it's 'stopped mid-frame' feel is a little frustrating, especially in the ambiguity that Arthur doesn't really get a proper showdown with Saturday. That said though, i found this book immensely enjoyable and it presents some of the best bits of the series so far. Well recommended!
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
on 25 July 2008
In the sixth instalment of the Keys to the Kingdom series, Arthur is on a journey to gain the sixth key from Saturday, the oldest denizen in the House.

After disappointment in the Thursday and Friday novels, I was wondering if Nix had somewhat gone into too deep with his attention to detail rather than action and suspense but Saturday is right back on track with intensity, action and a mouth watering prospect for Sunday that I believe this latest addition is right behind Monday in terms of the best in the series.

We are offered suspense and action right from the first chapter as the stakes are raised in the outside world as well as the House and now Arthur has to face the biggest challenge, the oldest and most powerful denizen in the house.

I am a slow reader but the writing was so good and fulfilled the uses and gratifications for the reader that it must have taken me around 2 weeks, and that is for an exceptionally slow reader. Intense, powerful, detailed and most importantly exciting Superior Saturday fulfils the fantasy adventure genre beautifully with more new creatures and a new part of the House to explore.

Despite the intensity and action, there is a feeling of repetition as Nix resorts back to using characters from his previous books to move the plot along. Surely an entire house has so much to explore that there is room for some new creatures and parts to explore? There is also some inconsistency. When the action sequences finishes and Arthur is forced to wait or talk, there is an over analytical view of proceedings, which takes away a bit of imagination.

Nevertheless the action, writing and the best ending I have read in a long time, Superior Saturday is one of the best books in the Keys to the Kingdom series.

8.5/10
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I lost my wind with this series a bit, I finished Friday and wanted to know what happens in the end but just couldn't make myself pick this one up. I did have a busy week which had something to do with it, but instead of snatching any moment possible to read I just wasn't picking it up. Then I decided to just sit down with it and get on with it. Ironically I actually started and finished this on Saturday, I started it in my lunch break then finished it when I got home.
To me this book felt like a filler book. It seemed to be just setting everything up for the last book. All through the series Saturday has made herself known as 'the real threat', the one that's causing all of Arthur's problems and trying to take over the house, but I didn't really feel that she was all that bad. In fact she seemed to appear and then be defeated rather easily. No real contest. The real struggle was locating the 6th part of the Will. That was the part I liked the best, it was a whole different set up to the others and quite creative.
Meanwhile back 'home' Leaf is trying to rescue all of the victims left behind from Lady Friday, Arthur was told there would be a nuclear attack on hi home town, he has managed to slow time to give Leaf a chance at helping people, but no one knows if it's enough. If I'm honest the whole idea of him stopping the time was just a way of putting the 'real world' out of the way so he didn't have to focus on it.
There was a lot of set up for the last location in the house - the 'Incomparable Gardens', and Arthur changing and adapting as he becomes more powerful. I actually liked Arthur a bit more in this book compared to the last few, he starts to accept things more and stops complaining so much.
Despite the storyline being a bit flat, this is a quick read and I did race through the pages. I suppose I may have skim read it a little bit. I'm hoping the last book will be an exciting conclusion and much more substance.
Worth sticking with if you're invested in the series.
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For those following this series (and theres really no other reason for picking up SS unless in error) I would suggest remembering all the events of Mister Monday and Grim Tuesday. I found that there was real depth in the storyline, it was complex and intriguing with a real mix of very different characters surrounded in mystery. Its true that the more you progress through the storyline, the more becomes familiar so that mystery of the first books dies as you become used to the world Arthur lives in. It is however also true that Nix almost becomes lazy in the depth of the plot and characters in this book. When you actually look at the essence of the story, very little actually happens. There is very little character interaction and its only saving grace is the developments concerning what is happening to the house, a nice little touch with the Old One and the things happening to Arthur himself as the power of being the chosen heir starts to change more than just his body. Having waited till all these books were out before reading them, the stories are fresh in my mind and I just found this one to be a complete let down. Where was Saturday throughout this novel? She is introduced at the beginning as potentially Arthur's most fearsome opponent to date and you dont see her till the end of the book and even then, her actions are so minor that it was hardly worth including her! Where was the interaction between the Earth/Secondary realms, apart from Leaf in the Hospital, what about Aurthur's parents, other friends, the town, the school - everything really, we heard nothing of it and its such a shame because the first books were so descriptive in this regard.

All in all, a very shallow and very disappointing penultimate book. I just hope Lord Sunday is a lot better!
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"Now that it's raining more than ever
Know that we'll still have each other
You can stand under my umbrella
You can stand under my umbrella
(Ella ella eh eh eh)"
- Rihanna

Book Six of the series "The Keys to the Kingdom" has the young hero Arthur Penhaligon taking on the oldest Trustee and first Denizen who just happens to be the third oldest entity in the Universe. Superior Saturday is a powerful sorceress who rules the Upper House with the help of thousands upon thousands of lesser sorcerers who do her bidding while stacked in iron framed cubicles with wire meshed floors and no ceilings.

Working conditions suck big time, what with the perpetual rainfall and all, and the job is even tougher for the "grease monkeys" who have to keep the chains and gears in working order. Promotions and demotions are physical moves, sometimes accompanied by projectiles and heckling, and job perks usually mean not much more than a different colored umbrella (ella, ella, eh eh eh)

Superior Saturday is afflicted with the sin of envy, and her sole ambition is to infiltrate the domain of Lord Sunday, through the "Incomparable Gardens". It's up to Arthur, with a little help from his friends, to rise to the top of her Babel-like Tower and secure the Sixth Key.

With this series, you need to read the books in order so as to understand what's going on. This one is very short, but is one of the least complicated as far as the convoluted links that exist between the House and its parts, namely The Lower House, The Far Reaches, The Border Sea, The Great Maze, The Middle House, The Upper House and the Incomparable Gardens. Many sub-plots are left hanging, but the major bummer is the cliff-hanger ending that leaves the reader suspended in mid-air awaiting the final book of the series.

A must-buy for fans of the series in preparation for the final showdown, but a bit lacking in substance on its own.

Amanda Richards
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20 of 25 people found the following review helpful
I would just like to start by saying I have ADORED any book which Garth Nix has done before and I eagerly awaiting the release of this book.
However, I found that this instalment of The Keys to the Kingdom series to be lacking in as good a storyline as all previous Garth Nix books. The plot in my opinion felt very rushed and was not as near as exciting to read as any other adventure Arthur has had.

After the excellent Lady Friday, I could not wait for Arthur to meet with Superior Saturday as this would turn into an epic battle. However what I had hoped to read and what I actually read were complete opposites. The meeting between these two foes was a complete let down and I was hugely disappointed.

Finally, the ending of the novel felt like Mr Nix was told to hurry up and leave the 'proper' ending out and instead leave it at a 'cliff-hanger'.

As far as I am concerned by ending the book this way meant that the plot was not properly developed and that the book was essentially Arthur travelling from A to B.

I would say that if your reading the series then you should read this book so you don't miss anything but do not expect anything any amazing battle with Superior Saturday or a story which is more than a stop gap read before Supreme Sunday.
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on 15 February 2009
Garth Nix has once again managed to write a thrilling adventure about the kingdom. If you have not read the 5 previous books you will still be able to enjoy the story, although it is best appreciated when read in order.
I loved the book and read through it very fast, maybe it was because of this that I feel that the story was quite short. Not a lot is happening in the main plot and the fact that there is no real wrap-up at the end of the book enhanced this feeling of having read only half a story. But, I have to give Nix credit: I desperately want to read the next book: Lord Sunday.
I am confident that the series as a whole will be great and much loved by young and adult readers alike.
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