Monday, 14 January 2013

The Griffin's Flight by KJ Taylor

The Griffin's Flight by KJ Taylor is the second book in the Fallen Moon series. You can read my review of the first book, The Dark Griffin, here. I can't discuss what The Griffin's Flight is about without mentioning spoilers for book one. So be warned, while this review doesn't contain spoilers for The Griffin's Flight, it does contain major spoilers for The Dark Griffin. Seriously, don't read on if you don't want key events at the end of book one spoiled.

At the end of book one, our main character, Arren, dies and is magically revived with a caveat: he talks, he breathes, he heals, but his heart does not beat. It's an interesting choice for a main character since, generally speaking, bringing the dead back to life is seen as evil. He's kind of a thinking zombie and while the few people who are aware of the situation agree that whatever necromancy brought him back is evil, I like that Taylor didn't use it as an excuse for more people to hate him. (Not that lots of people don't have other reasons to hate him.)

The other major character is Erian, the bastard son of Rannagon, who Arren killed in book one. In another novel, Erian might have been the hero and Arren the villain. Instead, Erian is annoying and a bit of an idiot with an overbearing, ambitious and controlling griffin dictating to him. The reader is very much set up to sympathise with Arren. Although Erian seeks revenge for his father, much like Arren sought revenge earlier, I didn't feel very much sympathy for him at all. Mostly, I thought he got a bit more page-time than entirely necessary. However, I'm quite into the idea of swapping the roles of hero and villain as Taylor has done. I've always been a big fan of moral shades of grey.

A new character, Skade, is introduced. I didn't hate her, but I suspect her potential wasn't entirely realised in this book and will hopefully come to fruition in the concluding volume. I was also a bit disappointed that Arren's friends from book one didn't feature very much. Bran and Flell feature only in the opening and the ending, however I'm confident they will play a bigger part in The Griffin's War, so I'm looking forward to that.

The Griffin's Flight moves away from the exploration of racism that was The Dark Griffin; it's still there, but it's much less the main theme. In fact, thematically there isn't a single overarching theme tying everything together in The Griffin's Flight, which partly makes it feel a little middle-book-syndrome-y. Which isn't to say I found it boring or pointless, just that it was linking two disparate parts of the story: Arren's life as it falls apart in the first book, and the coming titular war of book three (The Griffin's War).

I very much enjoyed the continuation of Arren's story in The Griffin's Flight. I recommend the series to all fans of "big fat fantasy" books. I don't recommend reading book two without having read book one, however. It's definitely the kind of story that should be enjoyed sequentially.

4.5 / 5 stars

First published: 2010, Harper Voyager AU
Series: The Fallen Moon, book two of three
Format read: paperback
Source: a real-life Australian book shop
Challenges: Australian Women Writers Challenge 2013

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