A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this book.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that Forged in Fire and Stars is a fantasy by Andrea Roberston, who wrote the Nightshade series under the name Andrea Cremer. It tells the story of 15-year-old Ara, who was destined to be the next Loresmith, a forger of magical weapons to protect the kingdom, but has been hiding in a remote mountain village wth her grandmother since the kingdom fell to the evil Vokkan empire -- until she's enlisted to help the prince and princess retake the throne. Violent incidents aren't frequent, but there's mention of gore and brief descriptions of blood in real-world fighting with swords, arrows, and knives. Skulls crack and bones crunch. Fantasy violence includes implied torture in a room soaked in blood and lives in danger from scary fantasy creatures. A vision describes human bodies impaled on thorns and hanging in trees. A woman is grabbed and groped without mentioning specific body parts. People have a wide range of skin colors that are described positively. Parental loss is an underlying theme but it's not explored in great detail. Sexual content is light, with some romantic feelings (both same-sex and opposite-sex), physical attraction, and one briefly described kiss. The ony strong language is "bitch" and "bastards." A villain drinks to celebrate good news, Ara has mead with her grandmother and drinks a few sips of ale at a tavern but mentions that she doesn't really like it.
- Parents say
- Kids say
What's the story?
FORGED IN FIRE AND STARS is the story of Ara, who's being raised by her grandmother and hiding in a remote mountain village after the kingdom fell to the evil Vokkan empire. Ara could have been the next Loresmith, forger of magical weapons only the best knights can wield for their country. But without her father to teach her the ancient ways and secrets, it looks like the line of Loresmiths is broken. Until two mysterious strangers appear in her village and set Ara on a path to discover her true destiny. Along the way she'll need the help of a thief, a fox, a summoner, and the true heirs to the throne if she's going to stay safe from the powerful magic of the Vokkan wizards.
Is it any good?
Fans who enjoy devouring all things fantasy will enjoy this strong-girl magical adventure with dashes of menace and mystery, but it's familiar territory and is a bit too uneven for broad appeal. Some of the elements in Forged in Fire and Stars feel like cliches, and overall the world feels very familiar within the fantasy genre without any real unique spark. Author Andrea Robertson's strengths are in her characters, who are engaging and believable, if not very surprising. The pace is a bit uneven, and the story doesn't even pretend to end, so fans will have to hope that it's the first of a planned series.
Most of the content is mild enough for middle schoolers, but a few events with real-world and fantasy violence involving gore, blood, and gruesome imagery make it best for teens and up.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about the violence in Forged in Fire and Stars. How much is too much? Do you feel differently reading it than seeing it in movies, videos, games, and other media?
Is Ara a good role model? What are her character strengths and weaknesses? Do you like or admire her?
Why are fantasy books so popular? What do we love about them? What are some of your favorites?
- Author: Andrea Robertson
- Genre: Fantasy
- Topics: Magic and Fantasy, Adventures, Brothers and Sisters
- Book type: Fiction
- Publisher: Philomel
- Publication date: May 5, 2020
- Publisher's recommended age(s): 12 - 17
- Number of pages: 384
- Available on: Nook, Audiobook (unabridged), Hardback, iBooks, Kindle
- Last updated: May 11, 2020
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Common Sense Media's unbiased ratings are created by expert reviewers and aren't influenced by the product's creators or by any of our funders, affiliates, or partners.