Sunday, 3 February 2013

The Griffin's War by KJ Taylor

The Griffin's War by KJ Taylor is the final book in The Fallen Moon trilogy. That said, a sequel series in the process of being released (book two is due out in April). I have previously reviewed book one: The Dark Griffin and book two: The Griffin's Flight. This review contains some spoilers for those earlier books. Blurb from the Australian edition:

A man falls. A monster rises...

The dark griffin Skandar flies in search of his chosen human, while the wild woman Skade goes with him to find her lost love. And a young griffiner believes he can destroy his father's killer for good. But his plans for bloody vengeance may come full circle...

Huddled half-sane in a cell beneath Malvern, Arenadd Taranisäii must submit to the will of the Night God who has his soul, or be returned to the grave forever.

The Griffin's War picks up quite soon after book two left off and quickly resolves the issues left open by its prequel. Then, as expected, The Griffin's War is primarily about the war that's been brewing since book one. The stage has been set with the Southern followers of Gryphus the sun god on one side and the Northern followers of the Night God on the other. Arren, the protagonist of the series, left his mortal self behind completely in book two and is now definitely Arenadd, the Dark Lord, the Shadow That Walks, chosen one of the Night God. Erian, the chosen one of Gryphus still believes he is the one in the right and that he cannot fail to destroy his opponent.

Erian was less of a prat in this book than in the previous one. This time around, I didn't feel like he hogged too much page time but we got enough glimpses into his life and adventures to see how in another story he would be the hero not the somewhat benign antagonist. He's still a bit of an idiot though. Skade also was a more welcome edition in this book than the previous when she was introduced. She not only plays a more pivotal role, but I could see now why Arenadd cares about her, while in the previous volume it was a more a case of there not being any other options for most of the book.

My favourite thing about the series as a whole continues to be the way in which the hero's and villain's roles were swapped. I've mentioned many times that I like moral shades of grey in my stories and on that front Taylor definitely doesn't disappoint. Arenadd is fighting for freedom for his enslaved and oppressed people. Erian is fighting because Arenadd killed his father, because he believes Arenadd must be evil, and because of signs from his god. But the reader, having followed Arenadd all the way from book one, understands his motivations and can watch each driving influence evolve. We know that, despite being called "the Dark Lord" Arenadd is not a power-crazed evil villain. As one of the characters says of him (identity redacted to avoid spoilers):
"He acted as if he cared about me. He wasn't... he didn't act as if he was evil. He seemed... sad and lonely."

Although the Griffin's War concludes the trilogy well, tying up all the important loose ends, I can see which direction the sequel series might take, without reading the blurbs (and having glanced at one of them, I can see I guessed right). I look forward to reading more stories set in this world in the future.

A random aside I don't think I mentioned in my earlier reviews:  I like that although the Night God is female, she is still referred to as a god, not a goddess. Never is her gender used to demean her, not even by her opponent's followers. (I mean, they think she's evil and that they will win in their righteousness, but not because she presents as a woman.)

I highly recommend the entire Fallen Moon trilogy to fans of fantasy. In particular, I think readers who usually enjoy dragon books due to the presence of dragons will enjoy this series as the griffins are treated similarly. As I mentioned in reviews of the earlier books, the series also deals with issues of racism, slavery and oppression. And as you probably gathered from this review, it explores the ways in which we define good and evil and how even when things are literally light and dark, there is still plenty of moral middle ground. I don't recommend reading the Griffin's War without having read the earlier two books. It's definitely the kind of series which build crucially on the preceding volumes.

4.5 / 5 stars

First published: 2010, Harper Voyager Australia
Series: The Fallen Moon, book 3 of 3
Format read: Paperback, Australian edition
Source: Purchased from a real-life Aussie bookshop
Challenges: Australian Women Writers Challenge

2 comments:

  1. I put this series on my wish list quite some time ago, but somehow I never managed to read it. First it was not easily available, but then I kind of forgotten about it in the sea of books I want to read. I should move it again on top of my wish list and this time really read it. Thank you for a wonderful review! :)

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Glad my review has reminded you about this series. It's definitely worth a read. Although it's ridiculously hard to get Australian books outside of Australia, the US edition (with uglier cover) shouldn't be too hard to get from Book Depository/Amazon. :-)

      Delete