Although I love to read all sorts of books, I had never taken a real interest in the fantasy genre of novels until The Black Gryphon. Unlike myself, my husband reads fantasy and sci-fi almost exclusively, and highly recommends books by Mercedes Lackey. That alone, however, was not enough to get me to read any, until he came up with a great plan...
My husband proposed a deal: I read The Black Gryphon, his favourite fantasy novel, and then he would sit down and watch the movie, The Notebook with me. That was a bargain I could not refuse! And so, I curled up on the couch with this book for a couple hours... and ended up LOVING it!
The grypons are a race of magical bird-like creatures, lovingly created by the human sorcerer Urtho. They are powerful, magestic, and a force to be reckoned with on the battlefield. The unproclaimed, yet undisputed leader of the grypons is Skandranon, the Black Gryphon. Brave, vain, and justifiably overconfident, Skan has never failed a mission. Even his skill is put to the test, however, during the great mage war, as the enemy leader, Ma'ar, makes unexplained advances against the forces of Urtho, and produces some magical weapons of his own.
In addition to Skandranon and Urtho, this book also revolves around Amberdrake, a healer of body and soul, who works as the primary healer to both Urho and Skan; and Zhaneel, a young gryphon with physical attributes unlike any other gryphon. Amberdrake feels the weight of carrying other's emotional burdens, and Zhaneel is tormented by the other gryphons and her inner self as everyone believes she is "misborn", and has no right to fight beside the best of her race.
Something I really admired and loved about this novel is the development of the characters. I have never read a book with more complete, or even equal character development to this one. I was plesantly surprised by how the authors could include so many emotions and internal dialogues without causing lulls and low points in the overall story. In fact, all the character development only added to the suspense and excitement of the book, because I was so curious to see how each one would handle what was coming next.
I really enjoyed reading this book, and next time won't need a bribe to read another fantasy novel. If you love fantasy already, this is a must-read, and if you are looking for something different as summer reading, why not give this one a try? You might be as plesantly surprised as I was.
The Black Gryphon is the first in a trilogy of books called The Mage Wars series. It is followed by The White Gryphon and The Silver Gryphon, but stands alone quite well because it is so complete and so well written.
Our copy was bought quite cheep at a used bookstore, so I would recommend checking out your local shops or ebay for a great deal on this novel. Otherwise it can be purchased on Amazon for $7.99 plus shipping.
Now if you'll excuse me... I have movie to rent. =D