The Beauty of Darkness: The Remnant Chronicles, Book 3

Book review by
Carrie R. Wheadon, Common Sense Media
The Beauty of Darkness: The Remnant Chronicles, Book 3 Book Poster Image
Strong characters make this overlong finale satisfying.

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Kids say

age 16+
Based on 2 reviews

A lot or a little?

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

Educational Value

As with many books that build new fantasy worlds, this one has a map enclosed to help readers get their bearings and includes different kingdoms with various customs and religious beliefs. Readers can compare what's on the map with real places, as well as think about what's the same and different in real religions they know about; for example, the "finding stillness" aspect of the Morrighan religion resembles some Buddhist practices. Specific to Book 3, much battle strategy is discussed.

Positive Messages

Trusting instincts and trusting the right people around you are very important here. Betrayal because of a lust for power is shown as a very destructive force. And there's this piece of wisdom about why people need to feel empowered, both in society and in their own lives: "Choice is powerful and can lead to great things if not held in the tight fists of a few."

Positive Role Models & Representations

Lia goes from political pawn in Book 1 to prisoner in Book 2 to being a commanding presence out to save the world by Book 3 -- quite a transformation. She has already learned to trust her instincts and works very hard to be heard, knowing many lives depend upon it. Kaden also makes a major transformation -- from assassin to trusted advisor. Rafe learns to trust himself, too, and learns that old romantic notion: If you love someone, set them free.

Violence

Things get bloody even before the battle that readers are led up to for 600-plus pages. There are multiple skirmishes with swords, knives, bolts, and arrows. Some of the good guys die, and most suffer bad injuries. Two arrows are cut from flesh, a man is slowly poisoned, an abdomen is stabbed with blood gushing, bolts are shot through a hand, punches are thrown, a frying pan causes a concussion, a sexual assault is halted with a bolt through the neck before clothes are removed. During the battle things get especially ugly: Child soldiers are used by the enemy (many are rescued), some graphic descriptions include a man being "halved," and explosions ending in this: "meadow, horse, and blood, raining down, the pieces still on fire." The story of a woman going crazy and slitting her wrists after a boy drowns in a well.

Sex

Characters have sex twice with much buildup but very little description about the actual act, and there's one mention that protection would be used. A childbirth scene has the new mother lament that an unfamiliar man saw her "lady parts."

Language

"Bastard" once, "ass" and versions of "damn" a number of times but nothing harsher.

Consumerism
Drinking, Drugs & Smoking

Some wine and ale drinking with dinner, even for characters in late teens, and one card game with drinking.

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that Mary E. Pearson's The Beauty of Darkness is the last book in the fantasy-romance Remnant Chronicles series aimed at mature teen readers. Kingdoms have been on the verge of war for two books now, and 600-plus pages into The Beauty of Darkness it finally rages and things get especially ugly: Child soldiers are used by the enemy (many are rescued), and there are some graphic descriptions including a man being "halved" and explosions ending in "meadow, horse, and blood, raining down, the pieces still on fire." Things get bloody even before that with multiple skirmishes with swords, knives, bolts, and arrows. Some of the good guys die, but most suffer bad injuries. Two arrows are cut from flesh, a man is slowly poisoned, an abdomen is stabbed with blood gushing, bolts are shot through a hand, punches are thrown, a frying pan causes a concussion, and a sexual assault is halted with a bolt through the neck before clothes are removed. Other mature content includes some drinking of ale and wine and sex twice between the main love interests; nothing is described with any detail, and there's a mention of protection being used. Readers will continue to see main character Lia's amazing transformation from political pawn in Book 1 to prisoner in Book 2 to being a commanding presence out to save the world here -- quite a transformation. She has already learned to trust her instincts and works very hard to be heard, knowing many lives depend upon it. 

User Reviews

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Teen, 15 years old Written byNovelnerd2187 September 21, 2016

Disappointing

I wish the review on this book had come out before I started reading it. Sex in books, especially when the characters are unmarried, drives me crazy. When the... Continue reading
Teen, 13 years old Written bygreensilverhawk December 30, 2017

Battle and Romance

There is a lot of sex in this book. Thought never stated you known it is happening. An unmarried teen gives birth with a man to help her. There are many battles... Continue reading

What's the story?

THE BEAUTY OF DARKNESS begins with the near death of Lia, who sustained two arrow wounds escaping from Venda with Prince Rafe and four of his soldiers. While the main bridge out of Venda has been destroyed, they still don't have much time to escape to one of Prince Rafe's Dalbreck outposts. And once she's healed enough to ride, Kaden and Griz, Lia's former Vendan kidnappers, find them. Lia and Rafe don't know if they can trust them as deserters and not traitors, so Kaden and Griz join the march to the outpost with hands tied. They prove their worth, however, in a skirmish against more Vendan assailants, and Kaden and Rafe enter into an uneasy truce. It's a truce that's tested upon their arrival at the outpost where Rafe is immediately greeted as king instead of prince, his father dead from illness. Rafe sets his mind to getting everyone safely to Dalbreck's castle, especially Lia, whom he wishes to marry and protect from any more harm. But Lia is too concerned about her country, Morrighan, and talk of treachery there, so she insists she must go with Kaden, despite the price on her head. She senses her bigger purpose to unite countries in the fight against the massive Vendan army and won't let even her love for Rafe stand in the way.

Is it any good?

Yes, it's a very long finale -- with the real battle action not happening until after page 600 (sigh) -- but the growth of the strong characters makes it worth the slog. And author Mary E. Pearson makes you care about all the kingdoms preparing for war and what it will cost them. Readers learned sympathy for the oppressed Vendans in Book 2 and now Morrighan in The Beauty of Darkness, despite how Princess Lia's parents treated her. Pearson carefully weaves in the different perspectives through a number of minor characters' backstories. We finally hear Kaden's story in more detail, making his father a worthy nemesis.

While there's spying and treachery aplenty in Morrighan and Dalbreck to keep the story moving -- mostly -- a few glimpses of life in Venda preparing for the war would add some much-needed climactic tension. Readers are told over and over that the enemy is coming, but that's not the same as showing it -- for example, showing the Komizar rounding up mere kids to fight and preparing his arsenal. We're shown a lot of romantic tension, however, and fans drawn more to the romantic story will do plenty of nail-biting as Lia and Rafe's relationship woes unfold.

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about the battle violence in The Beauty of Darkness. Did you find it jarring, or did you feel prepared for it? Is it easier to read about battle scenes with swords and arrows, weapons we don't see much of today?

  • What does Lia feel she's called to do? What did it mean when she said, "Why not me?"

  • Are you satisfied with the end of this series? If there were a spin-off series, whom do you think it would be about?

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