The Eye of Zoltar: The Chronicles of Kazam, Book 3

Book review by
Michael Berry, Common Sense Media
The Eye of Zoltar: The Chronicles of Kazam, Book 3 Book Poster Image
Continuing adventures in wizardry take a dark turn.

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A lot or a little?

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

Educational Value

The Eye of Zoltar displays a satirical outlook on fantasy cliches and spotlights some of the absurdity of quests for adventure. Many of the characters indulge in clever wordplay.

Positive Messages

Persevere in the face of adversity. Remain optimistic even when confronting danger. 

Positive Role Models & Representations

Jennifer Strange handles every crisis with a good degree of grit, determination, and common sense. In the face of mortal danger, she's brave and resourceful. The adult characters depend on her, and the villains frequently underestimate her. The villains are vain, self-centered and blind to the troubles of others.

Violence

Violence is largely warned about but not seen. There is one fierce battle, some minor characters die, and a member of the supporting cast loses a hand. 

Sex

Some flirting between teens Jennifer and Perkins. 

Language

"Arse," "hell," and "pissed" are used a couple of times each.

Consumerism
Drinking, Drugs & Smoking

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that The Eye of Zoltar is a clever follow-up to The Last Dragonslayer and The Song of the Quarkbeast. The pace is a bit more frenetic and the tone a lot darker this time around. The novel contains little violence until the climax and denouement, when there's a deadly battle and some supporting characters die or are seriously injured. "Arse," "hell," and "pissed" are used a few times each. Sexual content's limited to a crush and some flirting between two teens.

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What's the story?

Still overseeing the crew at Kazam Mystical Arts Management, 16-year-old Jennifer Strange is surprised when the Mighty Shandar, her wizardly nemesis, commands her to find the Eye of Zoltar, a powerful magical relic. If she doesn't succeed in her mission, Shandar will kill the only two dragons left in existence, so Jennifer and a few of her associates set off for the sinister Cambrian Empire, where survival is only a 50/50 shot. There she will face off against wild Tralfamosaurs, a Sky Leviathan, and the empty-suited assassins known as the Hollow Men. 

Is it any good?

THE EYE OF ZOLTAR serves up the kinds of clever magical hijinks that distinguished the previous volumes in this series. The plot cuts Jennifer off from many of the familiar characters from the first two books and introduces a handful of new members to the supporting cast. Which is a good way to prevent story stagnation.

Some readers may be disturbed by the violent, open-ended denouement, which takes a darker turn than most will expect, More installments in this series are on their way, as this volume ends with a cliffhanger.

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about different approaches to magic and wizardry in literature and popular culture. What sets the system of magic in The Eye of Zoltar apart from that in the Harry Potter books, for example, or Ursula K. LeGuin's A Wizard of Earthsea?

  • Why do some people like to travel to dangerous locations or participate in leisure activities with a high risk of injury?

  • Under what circumstances might someone think about sacrificing his or her own life to protect another?

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