The Beasts of Grimheart: Longburrow, Book 3

Book review by
Mary Eisenhart, Common Sense Media
The Beasts of Grimheart: Longburrow, Book 3 Book Poster Image
Brave rabbits, allies battle monsters in thrilling episode.

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A lot or a little?

The parents' guide to what's in this book.

Educational Value

It's a fantasy story with animal characters, but also, in its portrayal of the earth-eating Gorm and how they came to be, teaches about the workings of ecosystems and what happens when something gets greedy and runs amok. The story is steeped in mythology, and also a lot of practical tips about storytelling as bard Pook tells a tale in hopes his captors don't kill him.

Positive Messages

Strong messages of courage, family, friendship, loyalty, responsibility, and how everybody's contribution really matters. Sibling rivalry can lead to trouble. Creative thinking and good storytelling can help you out. You can change your mind as you learn more.

Positive Role Models & Representations

Lots of characters get a chance to shine, often heroically, as the story builds to a climactic battle with the Gorm. Also, some adults' flaws, like the bitter divide between Podkin's mom and her brother, have the effect of making Podkin and sister Paz, in particular, strive to do better. Innocent, goofy baby Pook, who grows up to be the bard Wulf the Wanderer, often does things that scare his elders--like making friends with saber-toothed wolves--but that turn out to have many good results.

Violence

Since the story pits a heroic band of rabbits and their friends against mechanical monsters tearing them and their homes to shreds, and our hero Podkin has already lost an ear to them, there's a constant threat of horrible doom hanging over them as events unfold. There are scary creatures like saber-toothed wolves as well as the evil Gorm, with many violent clashes, hacking, slashing, and explosions. Not all characters survive. Also, as the tale unfolds, it's unclear whether Pook's captors are going to go ahead and kill him anyway when the story's over, though we have a pretty good suspicion they're not.

Sex
Language

"Damn his treacherous ginger hide," says a rabbit of a character who's betrayed them.

Consumerism
Drinking, Drugs & Smoking

Rabbits drink ale and other alcoholic brews, although the captive bard is bummed because he gets only water when he's telling his tale.

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that The Beasts of Grimheart is the third installment in Kieran Larwood's Longburrow series, which pits a battered band of rabbits against the monstrous, world-destroying machines of the Gorm. Since the first book in the series, the Gorm have been slaughtering and enslaving forest creatures and laying waste to their homes. There's a lot of violence as the cosmic conflict progresses, which costs many characters their lives and/or body parts (young hero Podkin lost an ear in Book 1). Characters are captured, imprisoned, and threatened with death, including at the hands of a band of assassins who serve the goddess of death. There's also lots of wisdom and heart, and more than one happy reunion, as siblings Podkin, Paz, and baby Pook are chosen by the gods to save their world, and struggle to rise to the responsibility while avoiding the mistakes of their elders. While many plot threads are wound up here, author Larwin and bard Pook hint strongly at more to come.

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What's the story?

Book 3 of the Longburrow series finds Podkin, Paz, Pook, and their bedraggled band of refugee rebbits fleeing deep into the forest and meeting up with THE BEASTS OF GRIMHEART -- ancient, giant woodland creatures -- and joining forces in a last, desperate attempt to stop the Gorm. As Podkin soon learns, he'll need not just bravery and battle skills but also diplomacy as he tries to enlist other rabbit warrens, who often seem more interested in squabbling with one another. Informed by one of the ancient beings that he's been chosen by the god Hern for this task, Podkin frets:

"He was a tiny, earless scrap of a thing, and yet  he was Hern's defense for the entire forest? He didn't want to criticize a god, but it didn't seem like Hern had thought things through properly."

Is it any good?

Brave young rabbits and their unlikely allies join in a last-ditch battle against the world-destroying machines of the Gorm in this installment of Kieran Larwood's forest epic. Young siblingss Podkin and Paz, forced into responsibilities far beyond their years, are cheer-worthy and appealing as they struggle to do the right thing, look out for their loved ones, and restore their safe and a happy world. Along the way Paz struggles with the tradition that will prevent her from being chief of her warren because she's a girl -- a tradition that's already poisoned relationships in earlier generations of her family -- and Podkin grapples with the weight of duty.

"He remembered a little rabbit who used to spend the day hiding from his lessons, playing with his wooden wagon and model soldiers. What under earth had happened to him?

"He became a hero, Podkin realized, and sighed. A hero with another problem to solve."

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about the how the rabbit characters in The Beasts of Grimheart seem to share a lot of qualities of humans in our world. Do you like stories with animal heroes, or do you prefer humans? What are some of your favorite animal adventure stories?

  • One theme in the Longburrow series is sibling rivalry, which gets especially nasty when gender stereotypes like "Girls can't be chief" enter the picture. Do you feel like you and your sibs have a lot in common with Podkin and Pax as they try to sort this out? How do you get along with other family members?

  • Do you like to tell stories? Do you find the storytelling tips Pook gives his young apprentice helpful?

Book details

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