The Bronzed Beasts: The Gilded Wolves, Book 3

Book review by
Carrie R. Wheadon, Common Sense Media
The Bronzed Beasts: The Gilded Wolves, Book 3 Book Poster Image
Venice-set finale combines thrills and depth.

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Research shows a connection between kids' healthy self-esteem and positive portrayals in media. That's why we've added a new "Diverse Representations" section to our reviews that will be rolling out on an ongoing basis. You can help us help kids by suggesting a diversity update.

A lot or a little?

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

Educational Value

Repeated references to Tower of Babel tale from the Bible's Book of Genesis. Many details about the city of Venice, its landmarks and canals (especially the Doge's Palace and the Bridge of Sighs), and its many great carnival masks. A visit to Poveglia or "Plague Island" located off the coast of Venice includes references to its macabre history. Many tidbits on gods and mythological creatures (especially Janus, Icarus, and the Hindu god of dance, Nataraja). The origin of the word "quarantine."

Positive Messages

Finding light in the dark and being the light for others when things are most dire. Forgiveness and friendship. Positive personal change is possible -- we do not have to be stuck in the same destructive patterns.

Positive Role Models

Severin is known for his hubris and obsessions -- in Book 3, he wants to become a god to save all his friends. His friends don't trust him anymore, however. Slowly he earns their forgiveness and trust through kind acts and sharing his deeper feelings with them. By the end of the story he loses his hubris and focuses instead on being a better person who helps others. Zofia also makes wonderful progress in Book 3. She's an autistic character who deals with much fear of the unknown. She learns to face these fears and help others with her skills as a scientist. She also finds love and companionship, but on her own terms.

Diverse Representations

Three characters have parents from the colonies (as they were known in the 1890s) and deal with discrimination. One is Filipino and the others are Indian. (The author has parents who are Filipino and Indian as well.) There's also a bisexual character and a gay character. One important female character, Zofia, is on the autism spectrum and has a love interest in this story. 

One character in Paris works on returning artifacts from the colonies to their rightful owners and countries.

Violence

Boy's throat is slit as a sacrifice. Explosions and giant creatures injure and kill. Much scary skeleton and zombie imagery described on Plague Island. Some skeletons manipulate and attack those grieving lost loved ones. One character is near death the entire book.

Sex

Straight couple has sex, barely described. Straight couples kiss and flirt and talk of an LGBTQ relationship.

Language

"Hell" and "damn" said rarely.

Consumerism
Drinking, Drugs & Smoking

Most main characters are in late teens (in the 1890s) and drink at dinners and parties. One character usually has a wine glass in his hand. Story of a boy at 16 drinking for the first time, vomiting, and swearing off all alcohol after that.

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that The Bronzed Beasts is a satisfying and thrilling finale in a fantasy trilogy for teens by Roshani Chokshi (Aru Shah and the End of Time). It takes place in 1890 in Venice, Italy, but it's set in a world of magic. Three of the main characters are diverse culturally (Indian and Filipino), and one character is on the autism spectrum, one is bisexual, and one is gay. In this installment they are hunting for a way to save the character Laila from death and end up on a real island near Venice called Poveglia or "Plague Island." That's where things get more intense with some zombie and skeleton imagery and attacks. Other violence involves explosions with injuries and a boy's throat slit in sacrifice. A straight couple has sex, barely described, and there's some drinking of wine, mostly by one character who always likes to have a glass in his hand. Characters shine here in their transformations. Severin, the full-of-hubris leader of the group, earns the forgiveness and trust of his friends again through acts of kindness and by sharing his deeper feelings with them.  Zofia learns not only to find the light in the dark, but to be the light for others when things are most dire.

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What's the story?

In THE BRONZED BEASTS: THE GILDED WOLVES, BOOK 3, Laila wakes up in the Ice Palace to see her friends dead around her and a recorded message bug from Severin at her feet. She destroys the message before she hears it, in a rage over Severin's betrayal. Then her friends begin to stir. Severin knocked them out with a poison that would make them appear dead in order to save them, it seems, before being forced to accompany Ruslan of the Fallen House to Venice. Now Laila, Enrique, Zofia, and Hypnos have no idea how to find Severin. While they no longer trust him, Severin, with his lyre, is possibly the only one who can save Laila's Forged body from death in 10 days' time.

Is it any good?

This treasure-hunting magical series with fantastic characters ends in a flourish of divine light and profound feeling. But thanks to Ruslan, The Bronzed Beasts' fabulous villain, the story nearly ends much differently. Ruslan is charming, casually violent, incredibly unhinged, and a worthy adversary for Severin who's rarely ruffled by anyone. Both Severin and Ruslan want to be gods, both are obviously misguided, but in very different ways.

Severin's quest to save Laila with the divine lyre only he can play, and only in the most sacred place, is also about saving himself and regaining the trust of his friends. It takes him through the wonders of Venice all masked up for a secret, magical carnival, and to the horrors of a place called Poveglia, or Plague Island -- it actually exists, and why aren't more creepy stories set here? Wow. The quest tests everyone to the extreme. Zofia's struggle to free herself from the darkness and be a light for others feels particularly poignant. And Severin's transformation continues long after whatever happens in his divine encounter (we won't spoil it here). While chapters after climactic action that recount months and years of characters' lives can often feel like too much, here's a time when it almost doesn't feel like enough. Severin, Zofia, Enrique, Laila, and Hypnos all deserve their long encore.

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about Zofia in The Bronzed Beasts. She's an autistic character who has a heroic role to play and finds love and companionship. How many autistic characters do you read about? How many get to play the capable hero or the romantic love interest like Zofia?

  • Why does Severin want to be a god? Did you ever think that he would succeed? How does this quest change him? What other stories have you read about characters wanting to be all-powerful? How does it usually work out for them?

  • Which was your favorite of the series? What characters do you still want to know more about? Does the ending satisfy?

Book details

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