________________ CM . . . . Volume VII Number 2 . . . . September 22, 2000

cover The Seventh Tower. (The Seventh Tower Series).

Garth Nix.
New York, NY: Scholastic (Distributed in Canada by Scholastic Canada), 2000.
195 pp., pbk., $4.99.
ISBN 0-439-17682-4.

Subject Heading:
Fantasy fiction.

Grades 3 - 9 / Ages 8 - 14.

Review by Liz Greenaway.

*** /4

Reviewed from prepublication copy.


Tal stretched out his hand and pulled himself up onto the next out-thrust spike of the Tower. He stopped there to get his breath, and looked down the irregular Red Tower, down to the twinkling lights that outlined the main buildings of the Castle. They were far down below, a height that make Tal dizzy. He quickly looked back up.

The wind was much stronger than Tal had expected. It howled around the Red Tower and then spun through the other six Towers before coming back at him even stronger than before. It was also getting colder, making the climb even more difficult. Tal's Sunstone kept the worst of the chill at bay.

It had taken Tal two hours to climb to his current resting place. A hard climb, up through the spikes, gargoyles, and incrustations that covered the Tower. Now he was only four stretches below the point where the Tower appeared to suddenly end, meeting the lid of total blackness that lay across the sky.

This was the Veil, the strange barrier that kept the whole world in darkness, turning back the light of the sun.

So begins Garth Nix's first installment of "The Seventh Tower" series. Anyone who has read Nix's previous works will be familiar by the dark dangerous worlds that he creates. Tal's father has disappeared and is assumed to be dead, his mother is deathly ill, and it is up to Tal to keep the family alive by securing a new sunstone, vital to life in their dark world. However, if he fails in his pursuit, Tal faces the living hell of life as one of the Underworld, or death. To complicate matters further, someone unseen is orchestrating Tal's downfall.
    Tal's world is a complex one, full of different castes and complex rules of behaviour that define each level of existence. At times I wished for more background information in the first chapters to guide me through - shadowguards (reminiscent of Pullman's daemons in the his "Dark Materials" trilogy), Dimmers, the Veil, Underfolk. Eventually I just let myself be caught up in Tal's quest and enjoyed the non-stop adventure. That this book is the first published by the new imprint, Lucasbooks, should come as no surprise. With a $250,000 marketing budget, advertising in Star Wars Insider, Star Wars Jedi Apprentice and Sci-Fi Age, as well as a website (www.theseventhtower.com), it is clear both who the intended reader is and that Scholastic has big plans for this series.
    Is it of the same quality as, say, Philip Pullman's novels? I don't think so. Is that important? Probably not. It's still a great read with a sympathetic hero in a strange and marvelous world. Now, if they would just hurry up with that second one so I could find out what happens with Tal ...


Liz Greenaway is a former bookseller living in Edmonton, AB.

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ISSN 1201-9364