Nix has really upped his narrative game with this one. Goldenhand came out so many years after the original books, I didn’t think he was ever going to revisit this world. Man am I glad he did.
Once you start reading this book, you see why he wanted to write Clariel, too. Reading Clariel isn’t super necessary if you want to enjoy Goldenhand, though. You’ve already read Sabriel, Lirael, and Abhorsen, so you already want to spend more time with the characters (and if you haven’t read The Creature in the Case yet, go do that before you dive into Goldenhand).
It’s tough to follow up a trilogy ending where they literally save the universe, of course. And somehow, Nix does it with style. He employs switching POV chapters, and introduces new characters that are just brilliant and endearing. Lirael and Nicholas are kind of adorbs, and I’m so so glad we get to spend more time with Lirael, because two books with her definitely wasn’t enough.
Sameth has matured in a really wonderful way. We get the promise of it near the end of Abhorsen, and we get to really see how it’s unfurled in Goldenhand.
There’s new magic in this, and new lands north of the Old Kingdom that we haven’t visited before. We get to explore more of Lirael’s past, as she uses her Remembrancer skills and through a message passed down through the years.
The villain in this book is probably the most complex and interesting one yet. I won’t say she does it for me quite the same as the Destroyer, because that was one badass, inexorable villain. But Chlorr of the Mask is interesting and has a lot of depth to her, which makes for interesting conflict.
If you enjoyed any of the previous books in this series, you should read all the way through to Goldenhand. If you enjoy good fantasy, with well-wrought characters, an intelligent magic system, and a fully realized world complete with history and landscape, then this is definitely a book for you.