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Year of the Griffin (Derkholm) Paperback – August 7, 2001

4.4 out of 5 stars 52 customer reviews
Book 2 of 2 in the Derkholm Series

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Editorial Reviews

Amazon.com Review

In the very strange Pilgrim Parties of Diana Wynne Jones's Dark Lord of Derkholm, tourists from the next universe would come to wizards' lands expecting to have exciting battles with dwarfs, dragons, and the powers of darkness. Sadly, wizards were forced to host these hokey yet horrific pseudoadventures, and in the process, laid waste to their lands. But as its sequel Year of the Griffin begins, we learn with some relief that the mercenary Mr. Chesney's magic tours had ended eight years previous. While that is excellent news, the Wizards' University is now decidedly short of funds.

Wavy-blond-haired Professor Corkoran has plenty of schemes for extracting money from his students' families. But he always has plenty of ideas, and none of them work. Besides, he is too busy researching how to be the first man to walk on the moon to do much of anything else. As his new crop of students shows up, Corkoran is in for a surprise. Not only do none of them have any money, but one is a huge griffin, "brightly golden in fur and crest and feathers, so sharply curved of beak, and so fiercely alert in her round orange eyes that at first sight she seemed to fill a room." (Meet Elda, softhearted yet gigantic daughter of Wizard Derk.)

The hilarious goings-on begin when Corkoran's moneymaking schemes backfire horribly, and the motley crew of would-be wizards begin their studies. Comical tableaux involving spells that create deep pits and smelly winged monkeys alternate with suspenseful (yet always amusing) scenes involving tiny assassins who mean business. Jones's satirical pokes at academia, racial intolerance (the greenish and jinxed Claudia has mixed blood), and hierarchical societies (Ruskin is bucking the tyranny of the forgemasters to become the first dwarf wizard) keep the story lively, as do the realistic portrayals of her very odd and endearing cast of characters. You definitely don't have to have read Dark Lord to enjoy this wonderful sequel, but you may not be able to resist going back to it. (Ages 12 and older) --Karin Snelson --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

From Publishers Weekly

Infused with all manner of enchantments, this boisterous spoof of the campus novel reads like a cross between David Lodge and a particularly buoyant incarnation of J.R.R. Tolkien. Standards at the Wizards' University have fallen grievously in recent years: under the leadership of Wizard Corkoran (a charismatic slacker preoccupied with dreams of moon travel), the school's main goals seem to be to enrich its coffers and graduate classes of mediocre bureaucrats. Into this unpromising situation bounds first-year student Elda, griffin daughter of the powerful Wizard Derk (the eccentric breeder of flying pigs, winged horses, etc., previously seen in Jones's Dark Lord of Derkholm). Elda becomes fast friends with other new students, among them a rebel dwarf, a penniless crown prince, the Emperor's jinxed half-sister and two youths who must hide their true identities. A newly kindled passion for the great works of magical literature and a shared struggle against such foes as a tyrannical professor and a band of trained assassins deepen the bonds of the students' friendship. One exuberantly inventive adventure follows the next all the way to the pleasing conclusion, in which matches are made, secrets revealed and numerous loose ends tied up. Great fun. Ages 10-up. (Oct.)
Copyright 2000 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
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Product Details

  • Age Range: 8 - 12 years
  • Grade Level: 3 - 7
  • Lexile Measure: 830 (What's this?)
  • Series: Derkholm (Book 2)
  • Paperback: 400 pages
  • Publisher: Greenwillow Books (August 7, 2001)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 006447335X
  • ISBN-13: 978-0064473354
  • Product Dimensions: 4.2 x 1 x 6.8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 7.2 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (52 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #410,485 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

In a career spanning four decades, award-winning author Diana Wynne Jones wrote more than forty books of fantasy for young readers. Characterized by magic, multiple universes, witches and wizards--and a charismatic nine-lived enchanter--her books were filled with unlimited imagination, dazzling plots, and an effervescent sense of humor that earned her legendary status in the world of fantasy. From the very beginning, Diana Wynne Jones's books garnered literary accolades: her novel Dogsbody was a runner-up for the 1975 Carnegie Medal, and Charmed Life won the esteemed Guardian children's fiction prize in 1977. Since then, in addition to being translated into more than twenty languages, her books have earned a wide array of honors--including two Boston Globe-Horn Book Award Honors--and appeared on countless best-of-the-year lists. Her work also found commercial success: in 1992 the BBC adapted her novel Archer's Goon into a six-part miniseries, and her best-selling Howl's Moving Castle was made into an animated film by Japanese director Hayao Miyazaki in 2004. The film was nominated for an Academy Award in 2006, and became one of the most financially successful Japanese films in history. The author herself has also been honored with many prestigious awards for the body of her work. She was given the British Fantasy Society's Karl Edward Wagner Award in 1999 for having made a significant impact on fantasy, received a D.Lit from Bristol University in 2006, and won the Lifetime Achievement Award at the World Fantasy Convention in 2007.

Born just outside London in 1934, Diana Wynne Jones had a childhood that was "very vivid and often very distressing"--one that became the fertile ground where her tremendous imagination took root. When the raids of World War II reached London in 1939, the five-year-old girl and her two younger sisters were torn from their suburban life and sent to Wales to live with their grandparents. This was to be the first of many migrations, one of which brought her family to Lane Head, a large manor in the author-populated Lake District and former residence of John Ruskin's secretary, W.G. Collingwood. This time marked an important moment in Diana Wynne Jones's life, where her writing ambitions were magnified by, in her own words, "early marginal contacts with the Great." She confesses to having "offending Arthur Ransome by making a noise on the shore beside his houseboat," erasing a stack of drawings by the late Ruskin himself in order to reuse the paper, and causing Beatrix Potter (who also lived nearby) to complain about her and her sister's behavior. "It struck me," Jones said, "that the Great were remarkably touchy and unpleasant, and I thought I would like to be the same, without the unpleasantness." Prompted by her penny-pinching father's refusal to buy the children any books, Diana Wynne Jones wrote her first novel at age twelve and entertained her sisters with readings of her stories. Those early stories--and much of her future work--were inspired by a limited but crucial foundation of classics: Malory's Morte D'Arthur, The Arabian Nights, and Epics and Romances of the Middle Ages. Fantasy was Jones's passion from the start, despite receiving little support from her often neglectful parents. This passion was fueled further during her tenure at St. Anne's College in Oxford, where lectures by J. R. R. Tolkien and C. S. Lewis increased her fascination with myth and legend. She married Medievalist John Burrow in 1956; the couple have three sons and six grandchildren.

After a decade of rejections, Diana Wynne Jones's first novel, Changeover, was published in 1970. In 1973, she joined forces with her lifelong literary agent, Laura Cecil, and in the four decades to follow, Diana Wynne Jones wrote prodigiously, sometimes completing three titles in a single year. Along the way she gained a fiercely loyal following; many of her admirers became successful authors themselves, including Newbery Award winners Robin McKinley and Neil Gaiman, and Newbery Honor Book author Megan Whalen Turner. A conference dedicated solely to her work was held at the University of West England, Bristol, in 2009. Diana Wynne Jones continued to write during her battle with lung cancer, which ultimately took her life in March 2011. Her last book, Earwig and the Witch, will be published by Greenwillow Books in 2012.

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By A Customer on September 20, 2000
Format: Hardcover
I'm a big fan of Diana Wynne Jones, and I was surprised by the style of this book. Year of the Griffin is the sequel to Dark Lord of Derkholm, and takes place eight years after that book ends. In the book, Derk's youngest griffin daughter Elda goes of to the University to become a wizard; she makes friends with five other students quickly. The book contains some of DWJ's trademarks; funny but not perfect characters, hidden depths to those characters, and a world where nothing is only what it seems to be. But perhaps because of the number of the characters, the end of the story seems more concerned with wrapping up their lives than the plot; the plot, unlike in most of Jones' novels, is secondary to the characters. The book is thoroughly enjoyable, but I would not reccomend it to people who haven't read her work before. If you're a first time reader, try Charmed Life or Howl's Moving Castle or Hexwood or Deep Secret--all wonderful--and come back to this one later. Chances are you will.
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Format: Hardcover
I love D.W.J, and this book is great! This time, the main character is Elda, Derk's griffin daughter, who has gone to school at the wizard university. "Year of the Griffin" includes assasination attempts, crushes, pirates, idiot teachers, and new griffins. Read "Dark Lord of Derkholm" before "Year of the Griffin" if you can find it, because that will help you understand it beter. You might find "Dark Lord" in a local library, but it is out of print and might be hard to find. I think that "Year of the Griffin" deserves another sequal.
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Format: Paperback
... although I still haven't quite figured out in my head how their beaks move then they talk because we use lips to form words and they don't have any.
Anyways, this is the sequel to Dark Lord of Derkholm (which you really should read first), and although different in quality is equally as entertaining. I loved seeing the familiar characters pop in and out, and getting updates on them. Although I would have liked to see more of them, I hardly noticed as we were busy getting to know a whole new cast of intriguing character... Elda's new classmates.
I took this book up in the evening just before bedtime. Always a bad idea. I was reading all night! I thought I would have enough self control to stop after a chapter or so but Diana Wynne Jones had me hooked. Right from our first meeting with Elda's new classmates, I was already laughing out loud.
Instead of the questing and defeating the enemies tone of the first book, this book focused more on renewal and growth, of both Elda and her classmate friends, as well as of the University. And as I mentioned before, it was great to hear of all the familiar faces.
I long for a third book from this world! Her fan website says she has promised her sister that she will write one. Can't wait!
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Format: Paperback
Diana Wynne-Jones' "Dark Lord of Derkholm" remains the cleverest spoof of pretentious fantasies. The sequel, "Year of the Griffin," takes a slightly different turn, focusing on some rather strange young wizards-in-training, as they try to keep themselves in the frying pan rather than the fire.
Because the offworld tours have stopped, money has become scarce. Wizard Corkoran, the new head of Wizard University (who is obsessed with reaching the moon), hopes to soak the parents of the new first years. They consist of a mysterious young foreigner, a pirate girl, an impoverished prince, a half-Marsh girl with a jinx, a runaway dwarf, and the griffin daughter of Wizard Derk. None of them have any money, and quite a few aren't even supposed to be there. To top it off, their magic is anything but normal.
When Corkoran stupidly sends out money-seeking letters to their parents and relatives, the students start trying to magically protect themselves from the Emir, a pirate, the dwarf overseers, and the Romanesque Empire. Add some primitive griffins, a vindictive teacher, and some magic gone horribly awry, and it's a year to never forget... especially when they take an unexpected trip to Mars.
Those expecting a retread of "Dark Lord" will be disappointed; "Year" is more along the lines of "students at a wizard school battle evil," albeit far more imaginatively than most books with that theme. Jones happily mashes together Roman empires, pirates, fantasy dwarves (complete with armor and underground cities), and ties it together with her previous book. Don't worry, reading "Dark Lord" is not necessary, though it is recommended.
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Format: Hardcover
In this sequel to "The Dark Lord of Derkholm", we follow Derk's daughter Elda's first year at the Wizard's University. Elda is an enthusiastic, excitable girl who happens to be a griffin. The story focuses on the shortcomings of the faculty of the Wizard's University (all of whom learned magic purely to service the tours which until recently devasted the country), and the various problems of Elda's circle of friends (whose family/people at home would be less than happy to know where they are).
Year of the Griffin is a fun little romp, but doesn't reach the heights of intensity and resonance found in so many other of Jones' novels. Perhaps because the primary cast is so big, the resolutions of their problems aren't felt so intensely. It also seems like a novel is missing from in between "Griffin" and "Dark Lord", as most of Elda's family are off cleaning up a war on another continent and a number of characters involved in the close of "Griffin" seem to have originated in this "missing period" between "Dark Lord" and "Griffin".
Definitely buy "Griffin" - it's a thoroughly enjoyable romp. But at times it feels like the surface of several novels whose depths we never quite reach.
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