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A Lot or a Little?
What you will—and won't—find in this book.
Violence & Scariness
Some fighting, a kidnapping. Briar has nightmares about the war he fought in a previous book.
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Sex, Romance & Nudity
Lots of innuendo; it's implied that Briar, a teen, is having regular sex; a custom in Namorn allows men to kidnap women and force them to marry.
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One use of b---h
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Drinking, Drugs & Smoking
Some wine drinking.
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Parents Need to Know
Parents need to know that much of this book deals with a custom that allows men to kidnap women and force them to marry, essentially tantamount to rape. It's not described and is strongly disapproved of by the major characters. Also, one teen character has a lesbian affair, which is portrayed as perfectly normal.
Is It Any Good?
This book is a gift to author Tamora Pierce's legions of fans. Its pleasures derive from knowing the characters and enjoying seeing them reunited and in command of (and showing off) their considerable powers. Those who have not read the previous two quartets (see Related Books below) will be able to follow along, but will miss many of the allusions and may wonder what the fuss is all about.
This very long book is not a grand fantasy -- no battles, no good vs. evil, not even any deaths. It's more of a humorous lark: the first hundred pages consist mainly of the main characters bickering, the second and third hundred mainly flirting, royal entertainments, and some devious manipulations by the empress. The real story, such as it is, doesn't even get moving until the second half, when the heroes get to show off their intriguing powers a bit, though they are never in serious danger. Fans will eat it all up, newcomers are advised to read the quartets first.
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