Path of Beasts by Lian Tanner
Back in Jewel after their time in Spoke, the children find the Fugleman is once again in control of the city. He has hired mercenaries and has reinstated the dangerous Blessed Guardians. People are captured and sold into slavery. The city is threatened. The museum is threatened. And nothing but destruction lays ahead, unless Goldie, Toadspit and their friends can find a way to stop it.
In this installment, the children’s parents play a greater role than ever before and it’s actually really nice and fairly unusual from my experience to see children and their parents united for a cause in books like this. Often characters like Goldie and Toadspit would be written as orphans in order to allow them the freedom to fight and live dangerously, but Tanner has come up with very original solutions to that and has managed in this final book to have the families come together.
There is a feeling of great satisfaction in finishing this book. Lian Tanner achieved a perfect trilogy. The conclusion is so carefully crafted, the ending so well resolved; it’s really a pleasure. This series is highly recommended for strong fourth grade readers and up.
From a content standpoint, it should be understood that like its predecessors, this book is full of danger. People’s lives are constantly in peril and there are innumerable threats and weapons throughout. While there are a few deaths and some minor bloodshed, the overall violence and gore are minor compared with the suspense and foreboding. In terms of other objectionable content, it is nearly clean.
Sex, Nudity, Dating – A goat once predicated that a man would bear 15 children and that his husband would run off with another woman. This did not come true and the man does not have a husband. A woman has beetles tethered to her bosom.
Profanity – “idjit,” “bloomin’ ‘eck,” “stinkin'”, “ratbags,” men are cursing although we don’t know what they say.
Death, Violence and Gore – Men travel a road and never return. Men carry rifles. A boy carries a sword, a girl a longbow. A girl fears losing control and killing someone. Other soldiers carry pikes and swords and muskets. A person is thrown in the canal to drown. A bloodstained body is found. A woman suffers a serious stab wound. Children try to stop her bleeding. A dog and cat fight viciously. A boy carries a pistol. In the prior book, people were going to kill the children. A girl shot an arrow through a man’s heart. A girl died on a battlefield. A boy mentions that someone could be killed in a duel. A bomb killed and injured people. There is an enormous gun (a cannon really). Children were supposedly eaten by idle-cats. People used to die of horrible diseases. The museum contains dangerous things like plague and famine and war. The children carry a knife. A pair of people are threatened with arrows and rocks. They are tied up. A girl feels an urge to kill. People are threatened with a gun. Soldiers point their rifles at people. A cat had killed a dog that was sent to kill it. A man threatens to execute people, their families and their pets. There is a fear of plague. A girl has a memory of an ambush that resulted in death and says it is full of death and horror. An illustration shows a man’s foot on a skull. The man is carrying multiple weapons. A princess promised to bring her father a man’s head in a sack. A girl worries she will end up slitting throats and cutting off ears and thinking it is a normal thing to do. Plague includes blackness of the skin from bleeding. Soldiers wrestle people to the ground. Men had fought in the bloodiest wars and were hardened to slaughter. They have laughed at hills of corpses. There’s talk of executing children (who are imprisoned). A girl feels a rage and urge to kill people with her bare hands. Children are chained. Someone is bitten. A man goes to punch someone. There’s are multiple threats of whipping someone. The hound threatens to eat people, shred people’s bones and grind them up. A woman claims children are dead, fed to the sharks. A man is missing part of his nose. Supposedly people have the plague. Lots of guns are pointed, there are many threats to shoot people. A building is bombarded by cannon fire. A challenge of a duel to the death is made. A man is tempted to run a boy through with a sword and then burn his body. There is a Place of Remembering with ancient bones and whispering skulls. A soldier has only one arm, another has an empty eye socket. Human bones are scattered along a path. A cat scratches a dog causing him to bleed. A girl plans on tearing apart vicious creatures with her bare hands. During a duel, blood is drawn, an ear is nicked, a leg is wounded, a fighter disarmed. A girl is held at sword point, her neck is cut and blood runs down it. People are kicked and slapped. People are held at gunpoint. The pin of a brooch is stabbed into various things (a girl’s thumb, a man’s leg, etc.) causing them to bleed. A man’s neck is snapped.
Drugs, Alcohol and Smoking – During a recounting of the prior book, they mention how a boy was drugged unconscious.
Frightening or Intense Things – People go away and never return. In retelling the prior book, they talk of how children were kidnapped. There is a mass kidnapping. Children and adults are sold into slavery.