Tag Archives: griffins

Sunday Post – 23rd June, 2019 #Brainfluffbookblog #SundayPost

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This is part of the weekly meme over at the Caffeinated Reviewer, where book bloggers can share the books and blogs they have written.

I’ve been AWOL this week – which has been something of a roller-coaster… We have been embarking on a series of home improvements, given it’s far too long since we spruced up the house and duly got someone in to look at the guttering, which clearly needed replacing. Only it didn’t. Once the builders investigated, it rapidly became clear that we needed a new roof, instead. The roofing felt is like paper mache and the ends of the joists are rotten. The cowboys who replaced our soffits (Anglian Windows, in case anyone is interested…) must have been well aware of the situation when they fitted the soffits by screwing them straight into the rotten joists, but bodged the job and said nothing. Suddenly the house is swathed in scaffolding, the tiles are off, the rotten wood in the process of being replaced, along with the felt. Meanwhile we are frantically arranging finance… The sudden, sharp rainstorms hammering down throughout the week haven’t helped, either.

Other news – I have started my Poetry short course at Northbrook this week, which went well. My writing buddy Mhairi came down for a few days and while she was here, the proof copy of Netted arrived through the post with the awesome cover looking every bit a fabulous as we thought it would. And I spent yesterday with my sister who took me out shopping to celebrate my birthday. In the meantime, I keep waiting for my life to get more boring… please?

Last week I read:

The Killer in the Choir – Book 19 of the Fethering Mysteries by Simon Brett
Although she hadn’t known Leonard Mallett very well, nor liked him particularly, Carole Seddon feels duty bound to attend her fellow committee member’s funeral. As she suspected, the hymns, readings and sermon are all very predictable — not unlike Leonard himself. What she couldn’t have predicted was that the deceased’s daughter would use the occasion to publicly accuse her stepmother of murder. Did Heather Mallett really kill her husband, as many Fethering residents believe? Deciding to get to the heart of the matter, Carole’s neighbour Jude joins the new community choir – and discovers that amidst the clashing egos and petty resentments lurk some decidedly false notes. At least one chorister would appear to be hiding a deadly secret — and it’s up to Carole and Jude to unearth the truth.
I thoroughly enjoyed The Liar in the Library recently, so was delighted when given the opportunity to also read this offering. Once more Fethering is buzzing with yet another murder – and getting reacquainted with these characters was even more fun than I’d anticipated. I shall be reading more of these…

The Dark Lord of Derkholm AUDIOBOOK – Book 1 of the Derkholm series by Diana Wynne Jones
Everyone – wizards, soldiers, farmers, elves, dragons, kings and queens alike – is fed up with Mr Chesney’s Pilgrim Parties: groups of tourists from the world next door who descend en masse every year to take the Grand Tour. What they expect are all the trappings of a grand fantasy adventure, including the Evil Enchantress, Wizard Guides, the Dark Lord, Winged Minions, and all. And every year different people are chosen to play these parts. But now they’ve had enough: Mr Chesney may be backed by a very powerful demon, but the Oracles have spoken. Now it’s up to the Wizard Derk and his son Blade, this year’s Dark Lord and Wizard Guide, not to mention Blade’s griffin brothers and sisters, to save the world from Mr Chesney’s depredations.
This is billed as a children’s book – but it doesn’t feel like it. It seems far more like a clever exploration of what happens when people flock to a wonderful place to experience said wonder – all on their own terms, of course. And while parts are funny, other parts are quite dark. But all wonderfully gripping and well realised in this audiobook.

The Halfling – Book 1 of the Aria Fae series by H.D. Gordon
What do you get when you take a highly trained Halfling teenager and throw her into the concrete jungle of Grant City? One badass vigilante, of course! 17-year-old Aria Fae is no stranger to danger. She’s super fast, incredibly strong, and on her own for the first time ever.
Throw in a brand new best friend who’s a computer genius, a mysterious and super-fly older neighbor, and a drug that’s turning people into maniacs, and you’ve got the potion for trouble.
This YA superhero read was unexpectedly engrossing. Yes… Aria has it all – super-human strength and top-notch training. She also has enhanced hearing and sense of smell, as well as effective night vision. But, after a series of traumatic events that dumped her into Grant City, alone and friendless – she is also struggling with depression.

My posts last week:

Review of Broken Heart Attack – Book 2 of the Braxton Campus Mysteries by James J. Cudney

Friday Faceoff featuring The Sun is Also a Star by Nicola Yoon

*NEW RELEASE SPECIAL* Review of The Outside by Ada Hoffmann

Thank you for visiting, reading, liking and/or commenting on my blog – and I apologise for not visiting or comment all that much. It’s been a tad full on. I hope you have a wonderful week.

Review of The Griffin Mage by Rachel Neumeier

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In a smart marketing move, Orbit has rolled up this series into one omnibus edition. So, given that I don’t particularly warm to breeze-block sized fantasy books and only picked it up on the firm recommendation of Himself, was it worth hefting it off my To Read pile?

Griffins and mages, blood and kings. The Griffin Mage trilogy is a tale of fury and majesty – a tale of consequences in love, in war, and in death. Griffins are not mere animals: they are creatures born of a hot fierce magic and they bring their desert with them in the wind from their wings. But creatures of fire are the natural enemies of creatures of earth. The griffins strike fear and awe into the hearts of the ordinary people of Feierabiand, and inspire hatred amongst the powerful ice mages of Casmantium. And when hatred boils over – and kings get hungry for power – a war will be waged between earth and fire that will threaten to tear their whole world apart.

So… classic epic fantasy with big stakes, nasty monsters and plucky but under-rated heroines to save the day. Erm. No, not really. Neumeier is far more nuanced than that. Her griffins are not just scary beasts capable of razing human lands by covering their territory with blazing deserts – they are magnificently beautiful and reacting to a very real threat. The first book, Lord of the Changing Winds is all about the griffins and how they are being used in a wider political plot by an ambitious king. The focus of the story is very much about the way the griffins have been manoeuvred into fighting for their existence – and Kes, the small, quiet peasant girl who gets sucked right into the middle of the whole mess.

I very much liked how Neumeier handled this protagonist – she doesn’t suddenly become markedly different or a great deal more confident once she is shunted right into the middle of action. And there is a constant acknowledgement of the high cost – poignantly, not that Kes is fully aware of that – it is those who care for her that realise just what she will lose. After all, she’s barely a teenager and not educated or sophisticated – facts that Neumeier doesn’t gloss.

griinmageThe next book, Land of the Burning Sands has moved the story onward and this time the focus has shifted away from the griffins and more on the threat they are posing to the surrounding countries. And how the rulers and their mages are going to face up to such a determined attack on humankind. The main protagonist is a convicted murderer, Gereint, who is enslaved and bound by a geas to obey his owner – no matter what he is commanded to do… He flees into the desert created by the griffins in an attempt to escape from the cruel, depraved lord who owns him – and his subsequent adventures have him caught up in the desperate efforts to stop the griffins overrunning humanity and covering the earth with their deserts. It is fascinating to view Kes, the griffins’ fire mage, through the lens of those trying to oppose her. And it is a joy to read a series where the threat isn’t posed by some pantomime villain glorying in his wickedness, but by an angry powerful group who are still nursing a sense of grievance for past wrongs inflicted upon them.

The third book, Law of the Broken Earth, again shifts the time forward with a different set of protagonists. While reading the books in order gives the reader the full impact of the author’s intentions regarding the way each book builds on the previous one, I do get the sense that if you picked up one of these and read it as a standalone, it would still work. While you would only be getting a slice of the world, there is no sense that you would spend half the book floundering to catch up with what had gone before – a major consideration.

Mienthe, an heiress who has lived a sheltered life tucked away in the Delta Land, finds herself pitchforked into the middle of a major crisis when a spy escaping from a neighbouring country seeks refuge in their manor house. While those pursuing him don’t give up, enraged at what he has stolen… While Mienthe’s older, capable cousin and the King are engrossed at the other end of the country with the growing crisis around the griffins, she finds herself struggling to cope with attacks, both magical and actual as the Delta is invaded.

The griffins’ activities run like a spine throughout the trilogy and at times we revisit Kes, the first protagonist in the series. But by this time, she is completely altered such that the humans who try to interact with her rarely succeed. There is a sense of sadness at what has happened to her, despite her clear enjoyment of the Land of Fire, which I appreciated. It is always refreshing to encounter a magical system where the consequences are long-lasting and not necessarily good.

So, does the ending of the final book in this engaging trilogy satisfactorily tie up all the loose ends and give us an adequate conclusion for the considerable amount of time the reader has invested in this brick of a book? Absolutely. I particularly appreciated the explanation for the imbalance between the forces of Earth and Fire that caused the initial enmity between the griffins and humanity. As you may have gathered, I really enjoyed this book – and will be looking out for more of Neumeier’s work. A writer capable of such intelligently, layered storytelling is worth reading.
9/10