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The Golden Door
The Golden Door
General information
Series

The Three Doors

Author

Emily Rodda

Illustrator

Marc McBride (cover art)

Elizabeth B. Parisi (cover design (US))

Kate Rowe (any illustrations associated with the story, including maps and letters)

Publication
Publisher

Omnibus Books - imprint of Scholastic Australia

Published

January 1st, 2011

Chronology
Followed by

The Silver Door

The Golden Door is a fantasy novel written by Emily Rodda. It is the first book in The Three Doors trilogy.

Book description

Australian version

"What terrors awaits Rye beyond the Golden Door?

The walled city of Weld is under attack from ferocious flying creatures that raid in the night, bringing death and destruction. The Warden calls for Volunteers to find and destroy the Enemy who is sending the invaders. The heroes of Weld answer the call one by one, never to return. Rye is officially too young to go, but his brothers are among the lost, and he must find them."[1]

American version

Three magic Doors
you here behold.
Time to choose:
Wood? Silver? Gold?

"Rye stands before three Doors, about to step out into the unknown. He's lived his whole life safe inside the enormous wall that rings the city of Weld and protects against the terrible dangers outside. Now, Weld is under attack from skimmers, flying beasts the kill in the night. If the enemy sending the skimmers isn't found, the citizens of Weld are doomed.

But that’s not why Rye has volunteered on a mission to leave Weld and stop the skimmers. His real goal is to find his two older brothers, who volunteered before him and never returned. Now Rye must open a Door and begin a perilous quest that could save his brothers... or cost his life."[2]Back cover in English is “What terrors await Rye beyond the Golden Door?”

Plot

Rye lives in the walled city of Weld, with his mother (Lisbeth) and two older brothers (Dirk and Sholto). For the past 5 years, Weld has been attacked during the warmer months by swarms of flying “skimmer”. These bat-like creatures are attracted to light and sound. Rye’s father was killed in a skimmer attack two years ago.

The people of Weld try to protect themselves by barricading themselves into their houses at night. However, every year the number of skimmers increases. Dissatisfaction with the efforts of the Warden are on the rise, including riots in some areas of Weld.

Dirk spends his days working on the Wall of Well, which is ostensibly there to protect Weld from the barbarians that live along the coast. Sholto works as an apprentice for Tallus the healer. Rye is still at school.

Discussing the possible origins of the skimmers one night, Dirk expresses his belief that the skimmers have been deliberately sent to attack Weld by one of the barbarian chieftains. Sholto disagrees, and thinks the skimmers are normal animals that have simply found it easy to prey on the people of Weld.

Weld was built thousands of years ago by the sorcerer Dann. Dann fled the barbarian and monster-infested coast with his followers, leading them through the forested Fell Zone, before settling down to build Weld and the Wall. Originally Weld was protected by his magic, but over time this magic faded. The residents of Weld now obsessively build the Wall thicker and higher, even tearing down houses to make room to expand it.

One day, the Warden of Weld posts a notice for males over the age of 18 years. This notice calls for volunteers to leave Weld via a secret exit in order to search for the source of the skimmers. Volunteers must leave alone for the sake of secrecy. The volunteer who succeeds in destroying the source of the skimmers will be married to the Warden’s daughter and proclaimed his heir (as the Warden lacks sons). 

Dirk decides to leave the following day, arranging to meet his friends Joliffe and Crell outside the Wall. He does so, bidding farewell to his family. A few days later, Crell returns to his house with a probably-faked leg injury, claiming that he hurt it when at the Keep.

Just over a year later, Lisbeth receives an impersonal letter from the Warden saying that Dirk is presumed dead, as well as a golden brooch in the shape of a bell tree flower. Sholto is dismissive of the impersonal nature of the letter, and goes ahead with his usual task of securing the house.

That night, a skimmer attack kills Joliffe’s family. It is presumed they were distracted from securing their house due to their grief over Joliffe being declared dead, and Rye realises that Sholto’s cool personality saved their family. However, Sholto is clearly angry about this attack, and Rye is not surprised to find a letter the following morning, in which Sholto explains that as he has recently turned 18, he is leaving Weld to seek the source of the skimmers.

Over the following months, Rye examines history books and the geography of the island. The residents of Weld believe that the city takes up the majority of the island, surrounded by a thin band of Fell Zone, and then a thin band of coastline. Rye realises that the Wall of Weld should be visible from anywhere on Dorne, and so his brothers cannot be lost. However, he still feels that they are alive.

Another year passes, and skimmer attacks intensify again. Sholto is officially declared dead. That night Rye has some fragmented and prophetic dreams. The following day, Rye visits the healer Tallus. Rye had met Tallus once before when he needed a dislocated arm reset. Tallus had remarked on Rye’s red hair, saying it symbolises luck. He also seemed to be going to mention something else, but Lisbeth gestured to tell him to keep quiet. Tallus is currently dissecting a skimmer that was caught in a water trap, and mentions that they are growing larger and stronger by the year. He is dismissive of the news that Sholto has been declared dead, assures Rye that his brothers are alive, and encourages him to leave Weld.

Rye wanders on the way home, finding a young goat amid the ruins of a house. He takes the goat home and cares for it. Feeling drowsy after doing so, Rye goes to sleep. Meanwhile, Lisbeth visits Crell’s mother Ritta before going home. She arrives back at home as night is approaching, and Rye and her need to rush to secure the house in time. In his hurry, Rye forgets that he left the goat outside. The bleating of the goat attracts the skimmers to the garden. While they are unable to get inside the house, they destroy the bell tree and beehives that was the family’s main source of income.

Lisbeth decides to seek work and refuge in Weld’s Keep. She and Rye travel by cart to the Keep. Before leaving his home, Rye takes a sturdy stick from the ruined bell tree as a souvenier. 

At the Keep, Lisbeth is accepted to work in the Keep’s kitchens, while Rye is assigned to work in the fields in the centre of Weld. The worker cannot be persuaded otherwise, and so Lisbeth and Rye bid farewell to each other. Rye decides to present himself as a volunteer instead. While waiting to meet the Warden, Rye has a brief encounter with the Warden’s daughter, who seems to be demanding and snobbish.

Meeting with the Warden, Rye signs a document declaring his intent to volunteer, and then the Warden leads him down a narrow staircase, lit by torches that seem to come alight via magic (presumably constructed by Dann). The staircase leds deep below Weld, into a room covered with swirling, tiled patterns. Two guards stand on either side of a golden medallion decorated with stylized ‘D’. The Warden tells Rye to touch the medallion with his left hand, then do the same thing to “make his choice” in the next room. Rye touches the medallion, and is transported into a large, dim room. This room contains a large fireplace, and three doors. A golden door decorated with monsters, a silver door decorated with mysterious symbols, and a plain wooden door. On the stone above the doors, the following verse is engraved.

Three magic doors you here behold.

Time to choose: Wood? Silver? Gold?

Listen to your inner voice, 

And you will make the wisest choice.

While Rye is considering his choice, he is distracted by someone climbing down the chimney into the room. This person is a girl, dressed in the garb of a Keep orphan. She explains that the doors will only open for someone who has touched the Sign of Dann (the golden medallion), and she cannot reach the Sign because of the guards. She begs Rye to take her through the door, promising to leave him alone afterwards. She also mentions that she asked all the other volunteers the same thing. Rye refuses at first, but the girl reveals that she knows Rye lied about his age in order to volunteer, and threatens to tell the Warden (which means Lisbeth would be kicked out of the Keep). Rye agrees to bring her along.

Rye is drawn to the Wooden Door. However, he knows that Dirk would have chosen the Golden Door, and Sholto the Silver. As such, he decides to pick the Golden Door, as he believes Dirk has the best chance of saving Weld and reuniting his family. Rye opens the Golden Door, and is teleported into the Fell Zone.

Rye is temporarily knocked unconscious, but as he comes to, he briefly hears a whispering voice mentioning “the first sign”. He is shocked by the strong winds, giant trees, and wild landscape of the outside world. He is also panicked to realise that he cannot see either the Golden Door or the Wall. 

Rye wakes the girl (who is unconscious beside him). As he does so, another whispered voice mentions, “the second sign”. The girl heads off into the forest on her own, and shortly afterwards screams. Rye runs after her, to find that he has tripped over a stone with words roughly carved on it. These words are an epithet for Joliffe. Rye is certain that Dirk made this headstone for his friend. 

As they travel through the forest, Rye and Sonia (as the girl introduces herself) have some dangerous encounters with the monsters of the Fell Zone. Rye continues to hear the whispering voices. They eventually find a small stream. Sonia collects some stones from the river bed. Following the stream, they come across a small, mirror-like pool. Rye instinctively knows that this is called Dann’s Mirror. Rye examines the pool, and some ripples appear and form the word “Drink”.

Rye drinks from the pool (which he finds delicious), and after that a number of hooded figures emerge from the forest (these are the people who have been whispering). They have camelionic powers that allow them to blend into the forest, and red hair. The figures introduce them as the Fellan, residents of the Fell Zone. They claim to have been waiting for him based on a prophecy (though not all the tenants were perfectly fulfilled). The Fellan gift Rye a leather small bag, saying that it contains 9 powers. Rye does not believe that he was the one foretold, but is too scared to admit it and so accepts the bag, which he instinctively knows is magical.

The Fellan named Edelle warns Rye that it is nearly Midsummer Eve, and then the Fellan retreat back into the forest. Sonia samples some of the water from the pool, and claims that it tastes bitter and disgusting. She notes that this is evidence that Rye is the one foretold. 

Sonia and Rye briefly debate as to where to go next, and Edelle whispers to tell Rye to ask Dann’s Mirror. Rye asks the pool where to find Dirk, and the ripples reply that Dirk is in “the place of the enemy” and “a city called Oltan ”. 

Rye and Sonia travel through the Fell Zone for hours. Eventually they reach an area of farmland, and are shocked that they cannot see the coast from where they are. Rye realises that it is likely that the maps of Dorne kept in Weld are inaccurate, and the area outside of Weld is actually much larger. They also note that they have not seen any skimmers since leaving Weld.

The pair see some graffiti on a bridge that reads, “the Gifting must cease”, but do not know what this could mean. They also spot an empty animal shed in the distance and decide to shelter there for the night. While opening the door, they are attacked from behind by a large, horned monster (a bloodhog) and bar themselves inside the shed to escape it.

Sonia says it was lucky that they found the shed, and suggests that this is one of the powers of the Fellan charm. Rye privately disagrees, but upon checking the contents of the bag he finds a small crystal that lights up when held. He also finds several random items that currently have no apparent purpose (a red feather, a ring made of plaited thread, a small golden key, a nut, a snail shell, a wrapped honey sweet, and a opalescent transparent disc). The light from the crystal reveals graffiti inside the shed that reads, “Let me live! Let Olt die! O, save us from Midsummer Eve!”.

That night Rye has more prophetic dreams. When he leaves the shelter in the morning, he is again attacked by the monster. He runs in an attempt to lead it away from Sonia. To his surprise, he manages to reach a tree and climb it (running faster than he thought he could). The monster is then killed by Magnus FitzFee wielding a crossbow. FitzFee is a short man (the size of a child), travelling the road with his daughter Popsy and herd of goats. 

FitzFee is able to guess that they are not from the area, but refuses to investigate the issue. He also gifts Rye his cap (as Sonia already has one). Rye asks for directions to Oltan. FitzFee is very concerned and recommends they do not go there, but agrees to take them as far as the town of Fleet on his cart.

While travelling, Rye realises that the braided ring has the power to help him run fast. The travellers also see a sign pointed to Oltan that has been graffitied to read “Nerra” - the old name of Oltan.

Fleet is a small, beautiful town, famous for its horses. The people of Fleet welcome FitzFee and the others to their guest house for refreshments. Nanion - the chieftain of Fleet - mentions to FitzFee that a group of Olt’s men came into town a few days ago, but failed to find anyone to interest them. He also realises that Rye and Sonia are strangers to the area, and is briefly angry at FitzFee from bringing them here.

While exploring the guesthouse, Rye overhears FitzFee and Nanion talking. The people of Fleet intend to take their horses and travel to The Land of Dragons on Midsummer Eve to escape from Olt. Rye also finds a grave dedicated to Ethena and Juste D’Or, as well as their daughter Faene . He is then approached by Sonia and another woman. The woman mentions that she knows Dirk, as he spent several months with the people of Fleet. Sonia reveals that the woman is Faene, but before she can explain Gifters, led by Bern , arrive in Fleet. Sonia and Faene hide in a hidden chamber beneath the grave, but there is not enough room for Rye. Rye instead hides in a bell tree above the grave.

The Gifters speak to Nanion, explaining that two prisoners escaped the fortress, and that seven sacrifices are needed in total. They show Nanion a letter from Faene to Dirk. Dirk was one of the rebels that helped to free the escaped prisoners, and he dropped the letter in the escape. The Gifters open the grave, revealing Sonia and Faene.

Sonia and Faene are taken by the Grifters. Nanion tries to fight them off, but is hit by their stun batons and incapacitated. The Gifters take note of Sonia’s red hair, saying that Olt will be pleased.

The Gifters eventually leave, and FitzFee explains the situation to Rye. He tells him that Olt sacrifices seven youths on Midsummer Eve in order to extend his own life by 7 years. This is the second such Gifting. Olt is half-Fellan, hence his magical pwoers. He was once a well-loved chieftain of Dorne, but has since become a monster. He also tells Rye that Olt is responsible for sustaining a magic protection on Dorne.

Sped by the magic ring, Rye runs to Oltan to find Dirk and save Sonia. Rye makes his way into the city, and to the shore where Olt’s fortress sits. In front of the fortress is a rock with iron rings embedded into it and a wooden walkway leading to it, obviously the site of the sacrifice. Rye witnesses a group of Gifters throw chunks of meat into the ocean, and hears a pair of bystanders comment that this is to attract sea-serpents. 

After a polypan steals his cap, Rye encounters a woman named Nell . She suggests that Rye spend the night in a nearby tavern called The Flying Fish (as his red hair means he will make a good replacement if any more prisoners escape). On the way into the tavern, Rye hears two fishermen discuss the sea serpent repellent they use in their work.

While Rye investigates the contents of his bag again, the nut-like object splits into two, revealing a silky hood. Rye realises that the light crystal also has the power to create transparent patches in opaque objects, and the hood turns him invisible. 

Rye also hears two men named Shim and Hass arguing. Hass is strongly against the Gifting, but Shim argues that Olt is necessary to stop an enemy across the sea from taking revenge on Dorne, who chose Olt as chieftain over him. They mention that his enemy is Olt’s older brother Verlain , and that he is likely the Lord of Shadows that stories from The Land of Dragons speak of. They also mention another, younger brother who is in exile somewhere in Dorne. 

Using the hood, Rye sneaks into Olt’s fortress, where the regular guards have been replaced by the Gifters. Rye finds a trail of pebbles left behind by Sonia, leading him up a flight of stairs (as opposed to down, where it looks like the prisoners should be kept). He follows the trail, eventually coming to an iron door and using the crystal to look through it. Beyond this, he sees Olt on a throne made of a magically-preserved sea serpent. 

Olt senses a presence watching him, but Bern is unable to see Rye. Olt is keeping the seven prisoners suspended and unconscious in his throne room via magic. He is also disguising several decoys in the prison itself, and Rye realises that this is a trap for the rebel forces. Rye follows Bern to the prison, in time to see the rebels captured. Dirk is among them.

Rye flees from the fortress out of grief, and takes shelter in The Flying Fish. He sleeps in the corner, where he is found by Hass. Rye eventually awakens just before sunset on Midsummer Eve. Hass is revealed to be Nell’s husband. 

Rye realises that the transparent disc in his bag is a sea serpent scale, and that it likely gives him swimming powers. 

A bell tolls to summon people to the Gifting (which will take place at sunset). As Rye watches, a crowd assembles along the shore, Gifters herald the arrival of Olt, and Olt himself emerges from the fortress - levitating on his sea serpent throne.

Rye borrows some metal-cutters and sea serpent repellent from Hass. Hass helps to cover him in the repellent, and Rye prepares to swim out to the sacrificial rock. Once the scale is touched by water, it imbeds itself into Rye’s hand.

The seven sacrifices are led out of the fortress. One of the sacrifices seen in Olt’s throne room (who Olt had mentioned was weak) has been replaced by Dirk. The Gifting ceremony starts, and the sacrifices are chained to the rock as the sea serpents start to approach. Using the power of the scale, Rye is able to swim out the rock. He secretly hands the serpent repellent to Sonia, telling her to smear it on herself, and then get the others to do the same, while he cuts the chains with his metal-cutters.

As Rye is cutting the sacrifices free, one of the prisoners makes a break for it early. This prisoner is stunned by the Gifter’s weapons, and Olt orders them to make sure the rest of the prisoners are secure - but they hesitate due to the approaching serpents. Rye tells the freed prisoners to try and escape, and a riot breaks out amongst the citizens watching the Gifting.

Rye is able to free all the prisoners except from Dirk, who - dazed and thinking Rye is Faene - knocks the cutters from his hand in an attempt to force “her” to run. Rye is almost swept off the rock by a wave, but is grabbed by Sonia. 

The sea serpents reach the rock and move as if to attack Rye, but he is able to intimidate them by acting like a predator (and possibly with the help of the magic scale). He is able to hold them off long enough for the sun to set and the Gifting to fail.  

Olt kills most of his Gifters out of anger for them refusing to approach the rock. He strides forward, demanding that the serpents attack Rye and the others still left by the rock. However, he is eaten by a serpent instead. The rioting crowd then spills barrels of serpent repellent into the ocean, chasing off the serpents. 

The people briefly celebrate the death of Olt, before Bern attempts to claim power with the help of the remaining Gifters. However, he is quickly killed when the head of Olt’s rotting serpent throne falls on him, impaling him with its fangs.

A short time later, the fortress burns as the people celebrate their freedom from Olt. Dirk is happy with Faene, who plans to return to Weld with him. Unfortunately, the people of Fleet had completed their plan to flee to Deltora before they could be told that Olt was dead (they will go on to found D'Or). The scale embedded Rye’s hand fell out when dried. Sonia, Dirk, and Rye plan to return to Weld to go through the Silver Door and find Sholto, and hopefully the true source of the skimmers. 

Characters

  • Rye is a Weld citizen from Southwall who has lived inside the Wall his entire life, and the red-haired third child of Lisbeth, the beekeeper. Rye goes beyond the wall in pursuit of his older brothers when they are declared dead trying to stop the skimmer attacks on Weld.
  • Sonia is a Weld citizen dressed as a Keep Orphan who accompanies Rye beyond the Wall on his quest to save his brothers.
  • Dirk is a Weld citizen from Southwall and the eldest son of the beekeeper Lisbeth. Originally a well-respected worker on the Wall, Dirk leaves with his friends Joliffe and Crell to join the Warden's quest to find the source of the skimmers.
  • Faene D'Or is the daughter of the chief of Fleet Ethena and Juste D’Or, a town in Dorne. 
  • Sholto is a Weld citizen from Southwall and the second son of the beekeeper Lisbeth. Sholto leaves his job as an apprentice to the healer Tallus in pursuit of the skimmers after his brother, Dirk, is declared dead beyond the Wall on the same quest.
  • Lisbeth is a Weld citizen and beekeeper from Southwall who leaves for the Keep to work in the kitchens when her livelihood is destroyed by skimmers. She is mother to Dirk, Sholto and Rye who each leave on the Warden's quest to find the source of the skimmers beyond the wall.
  • Magnus FitzFee
  • Popsy
  • Joliffe
  • Crell
  • Tallus
  • Warden
  • Tigg (only mentioned)
  • Alda (only mentioned)
  • Nanion, the chief of Fleet
  • Nanion, son of Nanion of Fleet
  • Serri
  • Peron
  • Edelle
  • Kirwan
  • The Fellan
  • Bern
  • Hass
  • Nell
  • Coop
  • Dorrie
  • Wilf
  • Mag
  • Chanto
  • Nix
  • Olt
  • Lord of Shadows
  • Sorcerer Dann (only mentioned)

Trivia

  • While the Lord of Shadows mentioned in this book is the same character as the Shadow Lord found in the Deltora Quest series, the characters of Nanion and Ethena found in this book are ancestors of the Nanion and Ethena of the Deltora Quest series.
  • The people Fleet are the ancestors of the people of D'Or.
  • The golden Door leads to a thousand years back into past, to the time when Queen Adina ruled Deltora and the people of Fleet were migrating to Deltora.
  • The book along with the rest in the Three Doors trilogy include several references to the Deltora Quest series, as it is set in the same world.

References

  1. Rodda, Emily. The Golden Door. Scholastic Australia. 2011.
  2. Rodda, Emily. The Golden Door. Scholastic Press. 2012.

See also

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