Wednesday, August 15, 2012

The Dark Griffin by KJ Taylor #review

Title: The Dark Griffin
Author: KJ Taylor
Publisher: Ace, 2010
Buy link

If you, like me, gobbled up Anne McCaffrey’s Pern novels like they were crack, then you’re probably going to enjoy The Dark Griffin. And I really, really enjoyed this story, even though the novel is a bit rough around the edges.

First off, there were definite viewpoint issues. I felt as though the author couldn’t decide whether to run with a third-person omniscient or a deep third. As it stands, the narrative exists in a funny kind of limbo, with authorial voice intruding from time to time to offer readers glimpses into stuff that happens that the characters are not privy to. This is a bit jarring at times.

Hand in hand with this issue was the fact that Taylor could have laid on a bit more layering with regard to boosting characters’ motivations, and would definitely have helped to create more complexity in Arren. Often the main character does stuff and it’s not immediately clear as to *why* he acts. Granted, I was too absorbed in the story so it didn’t completely ruin it for me, but there were moments where I was jerked into editor mode and found myself absently casting about for my red pen.

Then, dialogue. Sometimes it felt as though Taylor was spending too much time conveying exposition using the dialogue as the vehicle, so things sometimes didn’t flow as they should. There were occasions where dialogue could’ve flowed more naturally but as stated earlier, I was too invested in the story to want to hurl the book across the room.

But despite these flaws, storytelling and world-building are Taylor’s strong points. I really enjoyed Mercedes Lackey’s griffins back in the day, so to have a new author invest so much love into creating a setting containing griffins thrilled me. Also the concept, of the main character’s fall from grace due to racial prejudices, really struck a chord with me. And that twist she offers near the end, of almost a “dark knight” rising, that also gave me wriggles of delight.

This is not a work of literary greatness, but it’s a fantastic story with a main character I ached for. Taylor succeeds in telling a powerful tale that had me teary-eyed at times, or sitting with my heart in my throat at others. Her world is bloody and violent, and I love the fact that she’s subverted my loyalties from supposed “good” guys to “bad” guys. And, without giving too much of a hint at a spoiler, if you loved Eric Draven as The Crow, then you’re going to absolutely adore Arren. Yes, this story is a big dramarama, but hell, it’s a rousing read and a perfect escape from Mundania.

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