Have Sword, Will Travel by Garth Nix and Sean Williams

Odo and Eleanor did not set out to find their destiny. At best, they were hoping for eels.
‘I’ve never seen the river so low before,’ said Odo as he climbed down the banks and began to trudge through the thick, reddish mud. He’d walked along and waded in the same stretch of the Silverrun for what felt like every single day of his life. Like his days, the river was always much the same. But now, there was a lot more mud and a lot less river.

While searching for eels, Odo unearths a sword in the mud beside the river. He can’t believe that he is the sword’s ‘true master’. Neither can Eleanor. It’s HER dream to be a knight, not Odo’s. But the sword is adamant – Odo is now Sir Odo, and before long, the trio are off on a quest. This makes the sword, called Biter, and Eleanor very happy. Odo’s still not convinced, but gives in to the entreaties of the other two. And a big quest it is too, destined to take them to many places and into many dangerous adventures.

Have Sword, Will Travel’ is Book 1 in a new series from Garth Nix and Sean Williams. It follows the adventures of two young friends who learn a lot about themselves as they travel far from their homes. Biter, the sword, has a very traditional notion of what it means to be a knight, and is keen to impose these notions on every situation they encounter. But, although Odo and Eleanor are young, they are very good at working together and solving problems. There are additional mysteries throughout that will surely surface in subsequent titles. Ideal for introducing young, competent readers to fantasy, ‘Have Sword, Will Travel’ is also jam-packed with humour. Recommended for mid- to upper-primary readers.

Have Sword, Will Travel, Garth Nix & Sean Williams
Allen & Unwin 2017 ISBN: 9781742374024

review by Claire Saxby, Children’s author and bookseller

Spirit Animals: Blood Ties, by Garth Nix & Sean Williams

This time Meilin didn’t run, She just didn’t have the energy anymore. But she walked fast, ignoring her hunger pains and rasping throat, the heat and the humidity.
“I will find a way out,: she whispered. “I will get to Zhong. I will fight the Devourer and our enemies.
But against that, there was a small voice in her head that whispered a hopeless, constantly repeating thought.
I’m going to die. I’m lost and I’m going to die.

Meilin is lost in a bamboo maze, regretting leaving the rest of the group, and wondering if she’ll ever see them again. The other young Greencloaks are searching for the next talisman, that of Dinesh, the great elephant. But there are enemies everywhere. The Conquerors want to destroy the balance between humans, animals and the spirit world, and Conor, Abeke, Rollan and Meilin will need to work together if they have any chance.

Blood Ties is the third title in the Spirit Animals series following four young heroes as they try to save Erdas. It stands on its own reasonably well, with enough back story filled in to make sense both of what happens and what has gone before, but is most suitable for readers who have read the first two.

Plenty of action, beasts both mystical and real, and a strong cast of characters make this likely to appeal to young fantasy and action lovers.


Blood Ties, by Garth Nix & Sean Williams
Scholastic, 2014
ISBN 9781743620007

Available from good bookstores and online.

Trouble Twisters: The Monster, by Garth Nix & Sean WIlliams

Through the predawn silence, something moved in the middle of River Road – something huge and dark and struggling. The length of a bus, but not as high, it propelled itself, awkwardly and with great effort, sideways up the slight slope towards Main Street.

As it grew near the next streetlight, it raised one strange, dark eye – and the light went out. The thing opened its great maw and let out a soft, almost yawning hiss of satisfaction, then dragged itself on, leaving a trail of slime and a line of fizzled-out streetlights behind it.

Everyone in Portland seems to know someone who knows someone who has seen the Monster of Portland – but it seems no one has actually seen it for themselves! It could be scaly, have a shell, or even be hairy like a gorilla, depending who you believe. The twins, Jack and Jaide, are’t sure who to believe, but they are sure something strange is going on in Portland. Every since they defeated The Evil, they haven’t felt quite safe. Now the’re sure that it’s still out there, waiting to strike again. Gradnma X seems to know more than she’s willing to reveal and the cats, their Companions, are also caught up in strange goings on. If only they could bring their newly discovered powers under control and overcome The Evil once and for all.

The Monster is the second in the Trouble Twisters series, a collaboration between Garth Nix and Sean Williams which will appeal to upper primary aged readers. The twins are Trouble Twisters, destined to be Wardens when they finish growing and fine-tuning their magical gifts. Their strange grandmother oversees their training, whilst their father, also a Warden, travels and their mother, who is a regular human, works away.

Continuing from the first book, but largely self contained, the book also sees the introduction of a new character, the twins’ friend, Tara, and some further revelations about their mysterious role, with hints of more to come in future installments.

The Monster (Troubletwisters)

The Monster, by Garth Nix & Sean Williams
Allen & Uniwn, 2012
ISBN 9781742373997

This book is available from good bookstores or online from Fishpond. Buying through this link supports Aussiereviews.

Trouble Twisters, by Garth Nix & Sean Williams

A mysterious card from a long-lost Grandmother signals the start of strange events in Jaide and Jack’s lives. Soon after, their father returns from one of his many trips away, and as he unpacks voices start to call to the twins, before their house strangely explodes. When they are sent to stay with their Grandmother in a town far from home, they are pretty unimpressed…

‘It does have our names on it,’ Jaide pointed out. She flipped open the card.
Inside were a few lines written in the same old-person handwriting.
My dear troubletwisters,
The cats have been very restless,
so I expect I will see you soon.
With love,
Grandma X.

A mysterious card from a long-lost Grandmother signals the start of strange events in Jaide and Jack’s lives. Soon after, their father returns from one of his many trips away, and as he unpacks voices start to call to the twins, before their house strangely explodes. When they are sent to stay with their Grandmother in a town far from home, they are pretty unimpressed. Their Grandmother is far from normal, and the town has more than its fair share of odd happenings – talking cats, swarming insects, and tornadoes that appear inside. The twins, it seems, are troublewisters, and have to learn quickly just what that means.

Troubletwisters is the first exciting book in a new fantasy series for tweens. There are lots of scary bits – with the twins having to fight to save their grandmother, their town and maybe the whole world as they battle The Evil, a force which wants to take them over – but there is also humour, particularly in the form of a pair of talking cats, and character development. Jack and Jaide are twins each with their own strengths and quirks, and Grandma X is a curious character who will intrigue readers.

Troubletwisters is an exciting, satisfying start to a series which readers will love.

Troubletwisters (Troubletwisters)

Troubletwisters , by Garth Nix & Sean Williams
Allen & Unwin, 2011
ISBN 9781742373980

This book can be purchased from good bookstores, or online from Fishpond.