The final book in the Podkin-One Ear story, The Beasts of Grimheart by Kieran Larwood follows the previous two books of the series in being a fast-paced, fun, classic adventure story that rounds off the whole story in quite a pleasing manner.
Picking up right where The Gift of Dark Hollow ends, we find the Bard and Rue, his new apprentice, dealing with the consequences of the High Bard’s death, while our main heroic trio (Podkin, Paz and Pook) find their deep forest refuge under increasing threat from the sinister Gorm as they find a destructive way to counteract the protective pmagic of Grimheart Forest. Things, however, aren’t quite as desperate as they seem; with several of gifts of the Goddess’ in their hands, Podkin and his rag-tag band of heroes have a plan for how to fight back.
Podkin, as our central character, gets easily the most character development and widest plot arc in this book. At times, it does feel a little like everyone else in the story serves to help him develop from the selfish, work-shy rabbit that he was in the first book to the (reasonably) confident and caring rabbit that he is in this book. Much of that character development really occurred in the previous books, but Podkin does get his character arc ‘polished’ in this book, with probably the biggest overall leap in this book with his relationship with his sister.
Unfortunately, due to the overall character focus on how Podkin develops, we do not see much of a character arc for the others. Paz, Pook, his mother and Crom all get plenty of page time as they are with Podkin the most, but really, no one else is developing miuch in this book.This is exacerbated by the large cast of supporting characters that has been intrpduced over the books, and means some of the them only seem to get cursory mentions throughout the book. *cough* Mish & Mash*cough*
One thing that has consistently impressed me with the books in this series, this book obviously included, is the quality of the writing. Larwood strikes an excellent balance between description (the ability of children’s authors to paint an image in your head with so few words never ceases to amaze me) and keeping the pace of the story moving forward; add a dash of humour and you have a beautifully written book and series.
Overall, this is a book I thoroughly enjoyed and would recommend to people seeking a classic fantasy adventure story without the humongous word count that comes with many of those stories. This obviously comes with the recommendation of reading the previous books in the series first! Need any more convincing? Well, the art work scattered throughout is brilliant and warrior rabbits are both bad-ass and adorable at the same time!