Garth Nix goes to the Old Kingdom and beyond with a novella plus eighteen short stories collected in To Hold The Bridge. If you’re a fan of Nix’s Old Kingdom series, this novella is a must read. But don’t stop there, keep reading and Nix treats you to sci-fi, fantasy, mystery, adventure and more.
From the back flap:
With the novella To Hold the Bridge, Garth Nix continues to explore the magical world of the Old Kingdom series. Also included in this remarkable collection are eighteen short stories that showcase Nix’s versatility, as he adds a fantastical twist on an array of genres including science fiction, paranormal, realistic fiction, mystery, and adventure.
To Hold the Bridge – Far to the north of the Old Kingdom, the Greenwash Bridge Company has been building a bridge for almost a hundred years. It is not an easy task, for many dangers threaten the bridge builders, from nomad raiders to Free Magic sorcerers. Despite the danger, Morghan wants nothing more than to join the Bridge Company as a cadet. But the company takes only the best, the most skillful Charter mages, and trains them hard, for the night might come when only a single young cadet must hold the bridge against many foes. Will Morghan be that cadet?
Overall: I have a confession to make- I have an aversion to short stories. What I love about a good book is that I can immerse myself in the story and stay for hours, days, weeks, months even! Multiple books in a series don’t scare me, assuming the book is a good one. Hell, I read all 6 of Frank Herbert’s Dune books and didn’t bat an eye. The idea of jumping from story to story every few pages just doesn’t appeal to me.
Novellas on the other hand, I love. That’s because they are usually an expansion on a larger existing story, either a new POV or a tale set in a world created in a previous novel. And that’s how I got sucked into To Hold The Bridge. I am mildly obsessed with Garth Nix’s Old Kingdom series (also known as The Abhorsen series) and To Hold The Bridge is an Old Kingdom novella plus 18 short stories. My plan was to read the novella, also titled To Hold The Bridge and be done. As you can tell by the title of this post, that didn’t happen. I started with the novella and continued to DEVOUR every morsel, large or small, Mr. Nix put in front of me. I am now a short story convert.
In addition to the novella, To Hold The Bridge published in 2015, contains 18 short stories which originally appeared in various publications from 2000 to 2012. The short stories range from a fairy tale where Rapunzel is a bratty unwanted house guest (“An Unwelcome Guest”, 2009) a Hellboy tale (“Strange Fishing in the Western Highlands”, 2008), the making of a queen (“Holly and Iron”, 2007) to an alternate world where vampires are as common as the Measles (“Vampire Weather”, 2011). Nix writes fantasy, fairy tales and sci-fi with the same skill and aplomb with which he created his beloved Old Kingdom series. For a complete list of all 18 short stores see below.
Judge a Book by its Cover: The cover shows the bridge in the novella’s title. 87 years in the making, the bridge remains incomplete. Above the bridge float the many Charter Marks of the Old Kingdom. The cover invokes the same ancient magic of Nix’s previous Old Kingdom books and it works well as an updating on the classic covers in the series.
Me Talk Pretty: If you’ve read Nix before you know he is a master of old world dialogue. But in the various short stories in To Hold A Bridge we also get Nix’s take on contemporary dialogue as well. Check out “The Quiet Knight” which features a D&D role-play loving high school student and “Infestation” about a surfer-boy vampire hunter.
Audiobook Narration: My first experience with a Nix audiobook was “Sabriel” which had Tim Curry as a audiobook reader. Tim Curry is a hard act to follow. But the several audiobook readers on To Hold a Bridge were certainly up to the task. Here’s a sample:
Kick-Ass Factor: While not all the short stories in this collection are action based, most of them are. Nix certainly knows how to write a fight scene, whether it is knights, vampires or….other beings.
The Chosen One: There are stories in this collection that involve a Chosen One of sorts. The novella “To Hold The Bridge” centers around a young cadet in defense of a bridge who is called upon to prove himself. In both “The Highest Justice” and “Holly and Iron” young maidens seek revenge and find something else instead. Under Nix’s guidance the Chosen Ones trope takes unexpected twists.
Don’t Believe the Hype: Garth Nix is a big fucking deal for a reason. His imagination, prose and world building are top notch, even in short story form. And with stories in this collection edited by some of the biggest names in sci-fi and fantasy such as Jonathan Strahan and Holly Black, you can’t go wrong.
Open tab/Last call: Garth Nix continues to delight and amaze me. He’s even managed to charm this short story non-believer. We’re keeping the bar open for Mr. Nix and we’re serving the good stuff.
For more Garth Nix read The Old Kingdom series which starts with Sabriel published Aug 1997 or Newt’s Emerald published Oct 2015.
To Hold The Bridge by Garth Nix, June 9, 2015, Harper Collins, 416 pages.
Collected in To Hold the Bridge (2015)
- “To Hold the Bridge: An Old Kingdom Story” first published in Legends of Australian Fantasy, edited by Jack Dann and Jonathan Strahan, 2010.
- “Vampire Weather” first published in Teeth, edited by Ellen Datlow and Terri Windling, 2011.
- “Strange Fishing in the Western Highlands” first published in Hellboy: Oddest Jobs, edited by Christopher Golden, 2008.
- “Old Friends” first published in Dreaming Again, edited by Jack Dann, 2008.
- “The Quiet Knight” first published in Geektastic, edited by Holly Black and Cecil Castellucci, 2011.
- “You Won’t Feel a Thing” first published in After, edited by Ellen Datlow and Terri Windling, 2012.
- “A Handful of Ashes” first published in Under My Hat, edited by Jonathan Strahan, 2012.
- “The Big Question” first published in, Elsewhere, Edinburgh Festival Special, 2012.
- “Stop!” first published in The Dragon Book, edited by Jack Dann and Gardner Dozois, 2009.
- “Infestation” first published in The Starry Rift, edited by Jonathan Strahan, 2008.
- “The Heart of the City” first published in Subterranean Online magazine, 2011.
- “Ambrose and the Ancient Spirits of East and West” first published in The Thackery T. Lambshead Cabinet of Curiosities, edited by Ann and Jeff Vandermeer
- “Holly and Iron” first published in Wizards, edited by Jack Dann and Gardner Dozois, 2007.
- “The Curious Case of the Moondawn Daffodils Murder: As Experienced by Sir Magnus Holmes and Almost-Doctor Susan Shrike” first published in Ghosts by Gaslight, edited by Jack Dann and Nick Gevers, 2011.
- “An Unwelcome Guest” first published in Troll’s-Eye View, edited by Ellen Datlow and Terri Windling, 2009.
- “The Highest Justice” first published in Zombies vs. Unicorns, edited by Holly Black and Justine Larbalestier, 2010.
- “Master Haddad’s Holiday” first published as a bonus story in the Australian edition of A Confusion of Princes, 2012.
- “Sidekick of Mars” first published in Under the Moons of Mars, edited by John Joseph Adams, 2012.
- “Peace in Our Time” first published in Steampunk! edited by Kelly Link and Gavin J. Grant, 2011.