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Book Review

Book Cover

To Hold the Bridge


Author: Garth Nix
Publisher: Hot Key Books
RRP: £8.99
ISBN: 978 1 4714 0448 1
Publication Date: 04 June 2015

Australian author Garth Nix, is probably best known for his The Old Kingdom/Abhorsen series of fantasy novels, although his C.V. would also cover articles on information technology and scenarios for role playing games.

To illustrate his wide range of interests Hot Key Books have published a collection of his short stories and Novellas, in To Hold the Bridge (2015. 497 pages). The book is split up into various sections, with a cover which I felt was a little misleading, as "Tales from the Old Kingdom and Beyond", would give the impression that there is substantial material related to that series, when in fact there is little.

The book gets its title from the first story, a true Old Kingdom tale and a very entertaining one at that, following which the tales are grouped by theme, including Creatures of Darkness and Light, containing three tales; Standing Up to Be Counted, four tales; Check Your Faint Heart at the Door: Combat and Struggle, five tales; A Wink and a Nod: Light Hearted Tales, another five tales and the last three tales are collected under the heading Under Other Skies: Science Fiction.

It would create a very long review if I was to take each story individually and anyway, with such a diverse range of topics, much of the reflection would be subjective. If you’re a Nix fan, I don’t really think that the dearth of Old Kingdom stories is a problem as his gift for world building in reflected in each and every one of his stories.

The range here is quite breathtaking as it shows that Nix is just as happy to write a vampire story as he is to play with faux history. There are stories which retell parts of the Arthurian legend, a Sherlock Holmes story, sort of, even a Hellboy story. The stories, as a collection, are not confined to any time period, The Quiet Knight, is a modern story of bravery, whereas Stop is set at the time of the first nuclear tests.

This is a strong collection. One of the things I most admired about his short stories is that they keep you guessing. I have lost count of the number of books I have read and am usually disappointed when the story is formulaic and I can work out the end before I even get half way. Nix still has the power to surprise, even with Infestation; I thought I’d worked out the ending only for Nix to turn the whole tale on its head.

This collection has a little something for everybody, whether you’re looking for science fiction, horror or fantasy.


Charles Packer

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