The Bronzed Beasts is the final book to Roshani Chokshi’s three-part series, published in September 2021. This trilogy began only in 2019 with the first installment, The Gilded Wolves book itself, and the series, for me, has been the perfect pandemic read. Chokshi reminds us to believe, to lean into hope, and to trust our motherline. She is also not afraid of the dark.
Have you heard of Chokshi before? You simply must know her.
Pin@y-Indian, Chokshi came into my life through #levarburtonreads when he read aloud “The Vishakanya’s Choice,” a story that plays with death and a young girl’s choice in an anti-choice un/fictional world. Later, I found Chokshi’s Aru Shah series for young readers. “For Those Who Wish For Wonder,” she writes, and a wonderful retelling of Indian mythologies it is.
As we at Saint Lunita deepen our engagement with death and trust in rebirth, The Bronzed Beasts comes at the perfect time in this reader’s life. The trilogy is all about the magic of forging; that is, creating animated/spirit filled objects. Chokshi does this formidable job of helping readers understand that magic is all about the relationship a magician has with the elements around them. In this story, Blood forgers can give agency to blood, metal forgers to metal, plant forgers to plants. And, in this way, everyday magic occurs in this world of Chokshi as the elements live and create new possibilities unimagined. Example? Zofia, the metal and engineer forger, creates “a length of metal thinly hammered to the flexibility of a cloth” which she ignites by asking it to. Metal, for Zofia, is the element that grounds and calms her. It also gives her life. Truly, Chokshi reminds us that all “objects” have agency, yes?
The other major theme of the trilogy is the “sin” of the Tower of Babel, of wanting to be the divine. Perhaps even wanting to be the creator and destroyer, the serpent-skirted goddess herself. And, in seeking this immortality to be a dios/a, death and manipulation. Death and rebirth occur again and again in this story. I could not put it down.
And, it’s in this final book of The Gilded Wolves trilogy – aptly named The Bronzed Beasts – that well-loved characters – Severin, the mixed race heir to one of the royal houses and owner of the world class L’Eden hotel along with Enrique, the Pin@y historian; Zofia, the forging engineer; and Hypos, the epicurean heir to another royal house – travel to an underground temple on a plagued island in Italy to save the life of Laila, the semi forged, public L’Engime performer and final member of this main character list. As they venture through Venice, they dodge enemies with gold blood, frenemies who can forge blood (you have to see this), and sirenes who must be fought with vulnerability and love. Time and time again, they must learn to be present in the simple, mundane moments with each other as they also learn how to trust one another and live with authority in their unique ancestral gifts.
With these touches of magic and metaphysical crisis, an exciting plot line that came back to relationship, and a women of color centered perspective, I found myself wishing for more of these books. Wishing I could have read them long ago. These stories of Chokshi are, truly, magia themselves. Stories that center WOC and their ancestral gifts are what we all need, no?
What also makes this reader extremely happy is that non-binary and non-monogamous relationships are integral to the story. And, yes, greed is the villain, too, with divine music being the resolution. And, finally, I always love when Pin@ys show up in literature.
A figure quite like Coatlicue emerges from its pages.
So the novel states: the question is, dear readers, what would you do to preserve the life of your friends? And, who is worthy to be a diosa and at what cost?