By Author / Illustrator
Kieran Larwood, David Wyatt
Faber & Faber
Paperback / softback
From the winner of the Blue Peter Best Story Book Award, the third instalment of Podkin's epic battle against the Gorm.The bard looks up at the three figures. They have black hooded cloaks and long robes. From the holes in their masks, three pairs of eyes watch him: cold, calm, emotionless. 'Yes,' says the bard. 'They're bonedancers. You don't need to sound quite so excited, though. They have come to kill me.'
And so it is that the bard and and his young apprentice Rue are taken to Spinestone, the temple warren of the bonedancers. It is here that the bard is ordered to retell the tale that has got him in so much trouble . . . and so to the next instalment in the astonishing tale of Podkin One-Ear... Podkin, Paz and Pook once again find their home under threat, but this time they are ready to fight! Podkin and the others leave for Sparrowfast to ask their uncle for the use of his magic bow. It's the one weapon that could save them all. But as they flee into the forest depths, it seems they have been betrayed...
'It's jolly good fun... expect sequels to breed like... well, rabbits', SFX on The Legend of Podkin One-Ear. Kieran Larwood's talent and his passion for his wonderful characters leap off every page', David Long, author of Survivors.
The Beasts of Grimheart is the third book in the Five Realms series and it hits all the right notes in this continuation of Podkin the rabbit's epic quest to defeat the evil Gorm. It is as stunning, imaginative and classically stylish as the first two books in the series. It was a joy and privilege to continue listening to the stories of bard Wulf the Wanderer.
Again, the reader not only has the excitement of learning what happens next with Podkin, Paz and little Pook and their heroic acts against evil Gorm leader Scramashank and his army, but The Beast of Grimheart also delves more into the adult past of the bard himself and his current adventures with his very young, highly enthusiastic apprentice, Rue. Rue is the reader's useful ally; excitedly urging the older bard on to reveal more daring, dangerous and drama filled tales from the past. The Bard himself is now also settled in as a much more realized character and firm favourite with the reader. When taken 'prisoner' by the female bonedancer assassin rabbits, the Bard displays a humorous dry wit and almost cool pleasure, in literally telling the tale of (and for) his life whilst stood with his back to a giant rodent pit (should his tale disappoint or anger his stern, skull-masked audience).
The Beasts of Grimheart takes the reader, with Podkin, Paz and Pook, back into the search for another of the 12 Gifts given from the Goddess that they must have to defeat the Gorm for good and end the fearful times in which they live. A betrayal from within the camp puts Podkin's life in danger like never before. Survival depends on the oldest and most mythical, mysterious rabbit tribe that there is.
What follows in this book is such a mesmerizing and enchanting part of the Five Realms story, in which we learn the origins behind the rise of the Gorm army and finally understand the true power that Podkin possesses. The sense of inevitable destiny and of events foretold is beautifully evoked with the new allies found in the depths of the Grimwode (the most ancient part of the forest land).
The personal growth in character of the young trio of siblings is a real strength of this book. The bonds of loyalty and trust are explored and of realizing your own strengths. Both Podkin and older sister Paz emerge as far more strong and commanding figures, finally starting to own their own futures. Emotions run deeply and powerfully in The Beasts of Grimheart with scenes of desperate fear and overwhelming loss. There is a crescendo of action, tension and fury in the final battle with the Gorm. Larwood fills the pages with vividly created scenes of noise, chaos, pain, bravery and hope all clashing against each other.
Again, the absolutely exquisite illustration by David Wyatt are so emotive and draw the reader into the power of the scenes. This is an utterly stunning book - it leaves you breathless at times and, at its very end, leaves you holding your breath for more.
320 Pages / Reviewed by Jennifer Caddick
Suggested Reading Age 7+