Aru Shah at the City of Gold: Pandava, Book 4
By Carrie R. Wheadon,
Common Sense Media Reviewer
Common Sense Media Reviewers
Indian myth quest tale stays exciting in this volume.
A Lot or a Little?
What you will—and won't—find in this book.
Delves into Indian myths and legends of some of the supernatural characters the Pandavas encounter on their quest including Chhaya, the goddess of shadows; Uttanka, a sage who can find water whenever he wishes; Kamadhenu, the cow goddess of plenty; and Kubera, the god of riches. Takes readers to the fabled city of gold, Amaravati. Glossary begins with disclaimer that this is just a small slice of what Indian mythology and legends have to offer. Letter to the reader explains that most of these deities and legends are from the Vedic age (1500 BCE) and that Vedism is a precursor to classical Hinduism. Mention of the Trail of Tears and places in Georgia including the Dahlonega Gold Mine. An explanation of the term Pyrrhic victory.
Kids learn this lesson that originated with the teachings of Confucius: If you seek revenge you should dig two graves. There's freedom in letting go of anger, resentment, and vengeful thoughts. Strength also lies in the ability to show vulnerability. Loyalty to friends and teamwork.
Positive Role Models
Aru struggles with feelings of anger and resentment for much of the book and learns that there's a freedom in letting them go. Mini is reminded that she's strong and powerful and if someone won't listen to her she can assert herself and be heard. All the Pandavas work together to get through a number of trials and are kind to one another when they make mistakes along the way. Characters are mostly of Indian descent. Two minor characters in this story are described as darker skinned and part Guyanese. It's briefly mentioned in Book 2 that Brynne is bisexual.
Violence & Scariness
Teens with godly weapons fight demons and other creatures. Many are killed in a battle including one character close to the main characters, but there's very little gore. Two scenes stand out: when the teens cut all the heads off a giant 10-headed demon with gold blood and when slits open up in human chests and souls spill out. Characters threatened with a guillotine. One character stays in a comatose state until magically revived. Stories told of men killed with arrows, a god cutting off the heads of another god, and a king kidnapping his wives.
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Sex, Romance & Nudity
A kiss and some crushes.
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Products & Purchases
Aru loves Home Depot and all the Pandavas love Oreos. Mentions of movies and books, especially Lord of the Rings and Cast Away.
Parents Need to Know
Parents need to know that Roshani Chokshi's Aru Shah and the City of Gold is the fourth book in the five-volume Pandava series published by Rick Riordan Presents. This imprint was started by the hugely popular Percy Jackson author and aims to bring a wider variety of mythological fantasies to kids, written by authors who grew up in a particular tradition. Definitely read the first three books in the series -- Aru Shah and the End of Time, Aru Shah and the Song of Death, Aru Shah and the Tree of Wishes -- before tackling this one, especially if you're unfamiliar with the vast world of Indian mythology. Even then, you may need the glossary in the back to keep all the Hindu gods and terms straight. Five of the characters are reincarnated Pandavas -- demigod warrior princes -- and are girls between 11 and 15 years old. Their quest to stop the world from ending brings them to the heavens of the Otherworld and back and involves much fighting with godly weapons against supernatural animal creatures. Many are killed in a battle including one character close to the main characters, but there's very little gore. Two scenes stand out: when the teens cut all the heads off a giant ten-headed demon with gold blood and when slits open up in human chests and souls spill out. Aru struggles with feelings of anger and resentment for much of the book and learns that there's a freedom in letting them go. All the Pandavas work together to get through a number of trials and are kind to one another when they make mistakes along the way.
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What's the Story?
In ARU SHAH AND THE CITY OF GOLD: PANDAVA, BOOK 4, kidnapped Aru doesn't know whom to trust. Her father, the Sleeper, is gone when she wakes and she's alone with a girl named Kara who claims to be the Sleeper's other daughter. Kara also claims to want to help Aru get back to her friends and shows her a secret portal back to Atlanta. Introductions between Kara and Aru's Pandava sisters are awkward, especially when Aru learns she's been gone two whole months and they haven't found her mom yet. But now that Aru's back they are focused on stopping the Sleeper's plans once again. They must get to Amaravati, the city of gold, and ask Kubera, the god of wealth, for his army to fight the Sleeper's forces. Thanks to the threat of the Sleeper, all the regular portals to the Otherworld are closed and they'll need to get creative about finding the place. Luckily there's a gold mine just outside of Atlanta that may link them to the real city of gold. Unluckily, it's guarded by some feisty marmots who WILL make you buy something at the mine gift shop.
Is It Any Good?
This penultimate Indian mythological adventure keeps things exciting with quests and trials and giant demons to battle, even as it sets readers up for the finale. The characters are well established now and work well as a team with their awesome godly weapons. Most of the focus stays on Aru, and some on Kara, her long-lost sister. It works fine for this installment, though Aru's angry-at-everything voice can overpower the story at times. Author Roshani Chokshi doesn't always line up her characters' reactions with action in the story and could have benefited from another editing pass to streamline Aru's inner thoughts. Even as an angrier-than-normal character, Aru is still worth rooting for, especially as she solves difficult tasks and trials with the other Pandavas.
Readers who pay careful attention may pick up on Aru's family secret before she does -- all those gods they meet on their travels tell lots of stories for a reason. Even if they do figure it out, there are more twists than that one that set up the finale in an exciting way.
Talk to Your Kids About ...
Families can talk about the battle in Aru Shah and the City of Gold. Why is Aru upset with Kubera, the god of riches, when it's over? Why do you think his whole kingdom thinks of the battle as a spectacle? Would you want to live in that kingdom?
All the girls are discovering their strength as fighters and problem-solvers in this series. What other books have you read with a group of strong teen-girl heroes?
What do you think will happen to Aru, her Pandava sisters, and her family in the finale?
- Author: Roshani Chokshi
- Genre: Fantasy
- Topics: Magic and Fantasy, Princesses, Fairies, Mermaids, and More, Superheroes, Adventures, Brothers and Sisters, Friendship, Monsters, Ghosts, and Vampires
- Book type: Fiction
- Publisher: Disney-Hyperion
- Publication date: April 6, 2021
- Publisher's recommended age(s): 8 - 12
- Number of pages: 400
- Available on: Nook, Audiobook (unabridged), Hardback, iBooks, Kindle
- Last updated: April 28, 2021
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