Superior Saturday is the sixth novel by Garth Nix in his The Keys to the Kingdom series. It follows the pattern set by the five previous novels (i.e. Arthur has to deal with the removal of the sixth Trustee of the Architect and her Will, Superior Saturday). Superior Saturday, like many books of the Keys to the Kingdom series, was first released in Australia, being released in early June 2008. The expected release date was July 1, 2008 in the United Kingdom (however people who pre-ordered with Amazon received their copy a day early), and August 1, 2008 for the United States. However Barnes & Noble released it on Monday, July 7.
Superior Saturday is the firstborn of the Seven Trustees chosen by the Architect to help Her manage affairs within the House, which is the epicentre of the universe and the first Creation of the Architect. When the Architect disappeared, She left behind a Will, stating what was to happen to the Keys to the Kingdom, and with it, the mastery of each demesne of the House.
Saturday was given control of the Upper House and the Sixth Key. Defying the Architect's wish that control of the House be given to a mortal Heir, Saturday kept the Sixth Key and the Upper House, and with the help of Lord Sunday convinced the other Trustees (Mister Monday, Grim Tuesday, Drowned Wednesday, Sir Thursday, Lady Friday) to retain mastery of their respective Keys and demesnes of the House. She serves directly under Sunday, and often makes rulings on things not under her direct control, using his "tacit" approval as authority. It has been revealed that she is the oldest Denizen, the most powerful and knowledgeable sorcerer within the House, and the third most ancient being in the universe, after the Architect and the Old One. She decried their collaborative experiment of having children from the beginning and (possibly as a result) resents being inferior to Sunday. For the last 10,000 years she has been hatching a plan to remedy this perceived injustice and rule the House from its highest realm, the Incomparable Gardens. She represents the sin of envy.
As shown in all of the novels in the series, Superior Saturday was the one most plotting against Arthur Penhaligon. During Sir Thursday she ordered the creation of the The Skinless Boy, an example of a certain type of Nithling called a Spirit-Eater or Cocigrue, whose purpose is to take the place of a mortal within their Secondary Realm. A Cocigrue has the power to control the minds of anyone whom it touches, using the spores of a symbiotic fungoid as a means of doing so. At the end of Drowned Wednesday, it is revealed that she (Saturday) sent this one into Earth to take Arthur's place, preventing his return. Using its symbiont's spores to control the minds of Arthur's family and friends, Saturday was able to hold their memory of him for ransom in exchange for all of his Keys, Demesnes, and any claim as the Rightful Heir.
Her next move was to order an invasion of the Middle House during the events in Lady Friday. She proclaims control of the Middle House; but as Friday did not legally abdicate her authority of the Middle House, Saturday's claim was false.
It has been confirmed that Saturday possesses the sin of envy when she is taunted by Sunday when he shows her glimpses of his realm. He is aloof and represents pride.
It was revealed in Sir Thursday that Saturday controls the Bathroom Attendants; Denizens who "wash between the ears" of Piper's children, removing their memories. She controls elevators between the various demesnes of the House and also attempts to control the telephones of the House, but as these fall under the authority of the Lower House and the wiring of them under the Far Reaches, she lacks full control. She also (up to the events of Sir Thursday) controlled the Army of the Architect through Thursday. Most of these powers have presumably been granted to her by Sunday.
"For the last time, I do not wish to intervene. Manage affairs in the House as you wish.
It will make little difference in the end."
Dame Primus confirms to Arthur that the note is from Sunday, as Saturday would not have signed it with a single "S", being too proud.
The Sixth Key is a quill pen and the Sixth Part of the Will is a raven. This part of the Will seems much more charitable than the others, being willing to help Arthur rescue Suzy, but still lacking respect for lower creatures, rather willing to knock out a Denizen for his clothes. It is implied that Arthur has been changed by his use of the Keys into an immortal (though it is uncertain of what type); his blood is now golden rather than red, his eyes are now blue and luminous, and he is taller, stronger, more handsome, and more tolerant of injuries than before.
The Upper House
The Upper House, demesne of Superior Saturday, consists of a single tremendous tower and four immense "Drasil Trees" (based upon the world supporting World Tree of Norse Mythology, Yggdrasil) which support the Incomparable Gardens above. It is the training center of House Sorcerers and therefore contains the largest concentration in any area of such Denizens. As hinted in previous books, most House Sorcery is worked by means of writing in a medium called "Activated Ink", which contains the substance known as Nothing. The tower is subject to constant rain, some of which contains the text of the Will until the latter is gathered by Arthur. All Denizens therefore carry umbrellas, which are colored according to rank. Inexplicably, the rain does not touch the various documents on which the Denizens write.
The majority of Denizens within the Upper House work at desks situated within large iron cubes having mesh floors and no ceiling. These iron cubes make up the structure of Superior Saturday's tower. A population of Piper's Children (human children brought to the House by the Piper and later appointed to subordinate positions) titled "Grease Monkeys" work the chains which move the Denizens' "offices" according to the changes in an occupant's rank.
The ceiling of the Upper House is actually the floor of the Incomparable Gardens and is shrouded in clouds. Sunday constantly taunts Saturday by parting the clouds only for her eyes, allowing Saturday to see his realm, which she desires and envies. Saturday, for the past (almost) ten thousand years, has been building a tower with her private viewing chamber at the top while the other floors are "slotted in" below. The purpose of the tower is to reach and invade the Incomparable Gardens above, so that she may claim it for herself. Within the Upper House are four large trees, located at the four corners of the Upper House, that are constantly growing at a rate faster than Saturday can build her tower. As these trees grow, the Incomparable Gardens move further upwards, irritating Saturday because they grow faster than she builds. Her sorcerers have calculated that if the Lower House and the Far Reaches fall into Nothing, then the four trees would grow at a pace slow enough for her builders to finally reach the Incomparable Gardens. This implies that she (as Dame Primus had suspected) planned deliberately to cause this to happen.
The book begins with Saturday discussing with her new Dusk (who was younger brother to Saturday's former Dusk) her plan to invade Sunday's realm, the Incomparable Gardens, which she has been trying to reach since the Architect disappeared.
Arthur, returning to Earth with Friday's captives, discovers that the national army (under orders from General Pravuil, who is secretly Saturday's servant) is planning to destroy his hometown with nuclear bombs to prevent a disease outbreak, and uses the Fifth Key to stop time so that he can find a way to forestall this disaster. He then discovers that he is now more than 60% contaminated by sorcery, and is therefore irrevocably turning into an immortal Denizen of the House. Seeing no other choice, he returns to the Lower House (leaving his friend Leaf to deal with Lady Fridays' Sleepers) to find it empty and on the verge of being annihilated by Nothing. He barely escapes, but reaches the Deep Coal Cellar, which is partially protected by the sorceries surrounding the Old One's prison. After finding his advisor Dr. Scamandros in the Cellar, Arthur confronts the Old One, who has grown in power and has destroyed his clockwork jailers. He is now surrounded by flowers, which he calls a sign of impending change. After talking to the Old One (receiving no definite answers to his questions), Arthur returns to the Citadel in the Great Maze and plans a pre-emptive strike against Saturday.
Arthur hence learns that Saturday (as Dame Primus suspected in Lady Friday) has deliberately destroyed the Lower House and Far Reaches to stunt the growth of the Drasil trees that lift Sunday's realm higher than Saturday can build. She believes that even if the rest of the House is destroyed, the Incomparable Gardens will remain. Dame Primus wishes for Arthur to fortify the rest of the House against the influx of Nothing, but is reluctantly convinced to split herself into two (Dame Quarto and Dame Septum) to administer the House while Arthur seizes the last Keys from Saturday and Sunday. Before she splits, Dame Primus tells Arthur that the Nothing which had destroyed the Far Reaches and Lower House cannot be held off for ever unless the Seventh Key is recovered. Arthur requests Dame Primus to give him the Compleat Atlas of the House, but Dame Primus evasively tells him that she does not have it. He suspects she is lying, but has no idea of her motive.
Arthur, accompanied by Suzy Turquoise Blue, who has appointed herself General of a small regiment consisting solely of Piper's Children, infiltrates the Upper House using the Simultaneous Bottles (see quantum entanglement) owned by the Raised Rats. There, they find that Saturday is preparing her assault on the Incomparable Gardens, which are now within reach of her Tower. Finding that the Sixth Part of the Will is dispersed in the rain that constantly falls in the Upper House, Arthur goes to a holding tank for the water to reconstitute the Will (whereupon it assumes the shape of a raven), but is separated from Suzy when they are attacked by Artful Loungers. Flushed down to the lowest levels of the Upper House, he encounters a force of New Nithlings, led by the Piper, preparing to attack the Upper House. Throughout all this, Arthur finds that this part of the Will is more agreeable to him than the first four, though not more so than the fifth, and more humble than any of them. His own metamorphosis is a subject of much attention in preceding chapters, wherein he discusses the changes with himself and Suzy and struggles to control a ferocious arrogance and accompanying impatience that seem to have become part of his personality as a result of his transformation. It is suggested several times that he is not a typical Denizen, on the basis that his blood is golden rather than blue and his eyes, unlike any Denizen's, are luminous.
With the Will's help, Arthur disguises himself as a Sorcerous Supernumerary (the lowest-ranked and most terminally depressed sorcerer) in hopes of rescuing Suzy, but is caught up in Saturday's assault force. In the Incomparable Gardens, Arthur tries to take advantage of Saturday's distraction by Sunday's insectile guards to call the Sixth Key to him, but is thrown off the edge of the Gardens by Superior Saturday's spell as he completes the necessary incantation. The outcome is unrevealed.
The epilogue shows Leaf trying to get as many people into the hospital's bomb shelter as she can before the bombs are launched. With the help of staff-member Martine, she brings at least fifty-three into safety; but the others are killed as the bombs arrive. As the book concludes, she calls for Arthur to return and set things right.
The Danny Kaye movie referenced at the end of chapter 7 is The Court Jester. In a couple of scenes in the movie, a trio of lines is spoken between two characters: "Get it?" "Got it?" "Good." Garth Nix himself cameos in the background of the American book cover, as the denizen under the umbrella behind Arthur.
- ↑ 1.0 1.1 Amazon.co.uk: Superior Saturday (The Keys to the Kingdom): Books: Garth Nix
- ↑ "Superior Saturday at Allen Unwin Publishers". Retrieved 4 March 2008.
- ↑ Amazon.com: Superior Saturday (The Keys To The Kingdom): Garth Nix: Books
- ↑ Superior Saturday p75