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The White Gryphon (The Mage Wars) Hardcover – April 1, 1995
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From Publishers Weekly
There is pleasure to be taken from novels of intrigue in which readers don't have to think at all, where their hands are held throughout the action and nothing is anything but what it seems. In Lackey and Dixon's second novel of the Gryphon trilogy (after The Black Gryphon), holdover heroes Skandranon, Amberdrake and Winterhart attempt to establish a political liaison with the Haighlei and their king, Shalaman, in order to to preserve the autonomy of the city of White Gryphon. But a series of grisly murders is perpetrated in ways such that Skan, a gryphon, becomes the chief suspect, thus jeopardizing their negotiations. Several twists and turns follow, but the characters are so pure of heart that they overlook the obvious, and too many improbabilities pile up. The authors maintain a frenetic narrative pace, despite the frequent bromidic asides ("often, one can be in love with who they think someone is"). But even as a page-turner, this novel is likely to leave readers suspecting that Lackey and Dixon are just biding their time, that maybe the third book of the trilogy will be something special. What they present here is a harmless confection, less fattening than an eclair and about as nutritious.
Copyright 1995 Reed Business Information, Inc.
From Library Journal
Ten years have passed since the death of Urtho, the Mage of Silence. The survivors of the catastrophic battle have built the city of White Gryphon, hoping to found a permanent settlement in a new land. When a delegation from the Court of the Black Kings disputes their existence on the fringes of its territory, the mage-gryphon Skandranon and his friend Amberdrake find their diplomatic skills tested to the fullest as they become embroiled in a conspiracy of assassination that threatens a possible alliance. Set in the world of the popular Valdemar series, this latest novel by coauthors Lackey and Dixon (Chrome Circle, LJ 8/94) tells a tale of intrigue and mystery enhanced by vivid descriptions of an exotic, ritualistic culture. A good purchase for the legions fo Valdemar aficionados.
Copyright 1995 Reed Business Information, Inc.
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They have all made a good life for themselves, albeit a hard-fought life. Skan and Zaneel are mates now, as are Drake and Winterhart. Skan and Drake have found themselves the dubious "leaders" of the city and it bores Skan to tears. He is almost grateful when their newfound society seems to be under attack from the Haleigh Kingdom, upon whose land they have unwittingly settled.
Magic is unpredictable and what there is of it has changed. This not only affects how the characters weild it, but it also affects many of the characters themselves. Many of those who had once been powerful mages now found themselves with the magic of the lowest level, if that. Conversely, many of those who once had little magic find themselves able to perform magic that would have been beyond their reach before the change. That is a big part of this novel, the changes in power and dynamics and how many of the characters react to that change.
It also changes the underlying feel of the plot. Yes, there is still magic and fantasy, but the focus was more on the mystery and intrigue that came with the Haileigh people. While Skan and Drake attempt to negotiate with the Haileigh in order to keep their city, it seems that there are those out there that would sooner see them fail. One after another, Skan and Drake seem to be guilty of crimes they both insist they did not commit and the intrigue begins.
While I enjoyed this book, there were a couple things that were a bit offputting for me. For one thing, the female characters really took a back seat to the main cast. They didn't really have their own stories in this book, almost just acting as props for the male characters. I also felt a little uncomfortable with the way the mystery and intrigue with the Haleigh worked itself out. The faith of the dark-skinned Haileigh prevented change without ceremony and ritual, limiting their willingness to search for the truth when Skan and Drake are accused. They were portrayed to be somewhat backward in their culture, portrayed as almost primitive in their thought processes. It took the paler Gryphon citizens to swoop in and create change. That just felt awkward to me.
My Recommendation: Despite my misgivings, I love the continued story presented in The White Gryphon. Great high fantasy! I gave it 4.8 mugs!
This series runs from the mage wars through the settlement of the White Griffon settlement. The characters are well defined and as usual Mercedes Lackey and Larry Dixon create a world and characters that you can get lost in. Well loved and old friends. I read the series at least once a year!