I’ve been truly agonizing over whether this was closer to 3 or 4 stars because even now I’m still not sure whether those last two words at the end outweighed the utter restlessness I had trying to finish this book and being annoyed at the events that kept happening–yet somehow they “stood still” in a manner of speaking. Now I’m not even sure I’m making sense.
WARNING: The Bronzed Beasts is the third book in The Gilded Wolves trilogy, so expect spoilers from the previous two books!
THE BRONZED BEASTS
by Roshani Chokshi
Wednesday Books, September 2021
YA historical fantasy
Rated: 3.5 / 5 cookies
After Séverin’s seeming betrayal, the crew is fractured. Armed with only a handful of hints, Enrique, Laila, Hypnos and Zofia must find their way through the snarled, haunted waterways of Venice, Italy to locate Séverin.
Meanwhile, Séverin must balance the deranged whims of the Patriarch of the Fallen House and discover the location of a temple beneath a plague island where the Divine Lyre can be played and all that he desires will come to pass.
With only ten days until Laila expires, the crew will face plague pits and deadly masquerades, unearthly songs and the shining steps of a temple whose powers might offer divinity itself… but at a price they may not be willing to pay.
I thought about making this into a list like I’d done in my review of The Gilded Wolves, but then changed my mind because there wasn’t a whole lot I wanted to say that I’ve already said from previous reviews. Normally by now I’d have structured my thoughts around some accompanying quotes, but the fact of the matter is that most of the ones I want to use are so terribly spoilery that I’m going to hold off on that. So instead, a couple of things that didn’t work and did work for me while I read The Bronzed Beasts.
The pacing. The constant relapsing into the historical context, mostly because a lot of this info is not unfamiliar to me, because clearly I’m a nerd who’s mostly outnerded by Zofia. Then again, I also wasn’t a big fan of the National Treasure aspect of the novels. I had picked up The Gilded Wolves hoping it would be a heist fantasy, like The Lies of Locke Lamora and Six of Crows, but after the initial outset of TGW, its sequels kind of jumped into a grander scale and a different direction. I kind of missed the crew set-up of Gilded Wolves, and while there were a number of hijinks in Bronzed Beasts, they weren’t as prominent as the treasure-hunting, puzzle-solving aspect that I didn’t care for. Perhaps if I’d read this book back in the past, I might have loved the whole treasure hunt adventure aspect.
The wishy washy super annoying bad guy who was pretty much irrelevant to the progression of the plot, because clearly everything was going to happen the same way at the rate that ending was going. So by book 2, it seemed clear that the “Doctor” referred to in the first book makes a showing and declares his plans to rise to godhood. That was a neat reveal in Silvered Serpents, but I felt like this character’s arc was haphazardly pushed to the side and became just a minor inconvenience to Severin (Heck, I don’t even think he was needed for the final destination reveal, especially when they had Enrique on the case!). At the end of the day, an entire plan is hatched to nerf the bad guy, and I kind of forget about his existence a third into the book. Did it matter what the baddie did in the end? Not particularly. If anything, he just sped the events along near the end of the book by a few hours. Yes, the timing mattered in this case, but I wasn’t sure the stakes were raised by his reappearance.
Severin’s tremendous growth as a character. I really liked the repeating openings of Severin’s storyline. In Gilded Wolves the repetition came in the way of the anecdotes about Severin’s seven fathers. In Silvered Serpents that repetition has an added “Severin had seven fathers, but only one brother.” Both statements very much set the mood in both books, and when it came to the third book, the openings evolved to show a more retrospective outlook of his past and his fathers. Gone is the jaded bitterness in GW and the anger and grief in SS, instead replaced with thoughtful reflection and a glimmer of the things Severin truly did learn having been passed from one father to another. Don’t even get me started on his interactions with Laila and his crew. Half the time, I just wanted them to give him a hug for all the mad decisions he made just to keep his loved ones safe. I stan him. I protect him at all times and so should everyone. I felt all his gains and losses in the span of three books and every time his heart broke, mine did too.
The tremendously beautiful writing. Again, no complaints there. Chokshi never ceases to make me jealous with how she can seamlessly weave words around and make them sing on the page. It’s a talent I can attribute to some of my favorite authors, and this is no different. I love how she phrases her descriptions, and how she tugs at heartstrings with just a short glance and a few sharp words.
And my heart broke. A lot. A fucking lot. Because THOSE FUCKING LAST TWO WORDS OF THE BOOK.
I almost wanted to rate this book higher because of the last two words in the book, but then I thought about it and got sad again, and so I leave the rating as is.
3.5 out of 5 cookies! Now let me go hug my pillow in despair like the broken Forged thing I am.