Wednesday, September 19, 2012

The Griffin's Flight by KJ Taylor #review

Title: The Griffin’s Flight (The Fallen Moon, Book 2)
Author: KJ Taylor
Publisher: Ace, 2011
Buy link

Book two of the series has its ups and downs. I must admit I’m reading this series mainly because I ended up emotionally invested in the main characters, so kudos for KJ Taylor for engaging me in that sense. That being said, The Griffin’s Flight is not a smooth ride. Taylor compresses a fair amount of time in the first half of the novel, which tends to feel as though it drags.

We pick up with Arren on his flight north as he discovers the mysterious woman Skade. Like Arren, there’s more to Skade than meets the eye, which lends an interesting departure from the norm that might squick out some readers. Arren, as always, falls prey to his passions, which leads to all manner of ill fortune, and I can’t help but wonder how things would go if he were more honest. As a character he is infuriating, especially in the sense that he continues to lie to himself—and others. And it is these lies that create more issues than anything else.

Arren is a man at war with others’ perceptions of himself, and the fact that he appears to have found himself as an integral part of an ages-old curse. Much of what annoyed me about him in book one is still in evidence—he is a victim trapped by deeply entrenched prejudices. It’s how he deals with his predicament that I hope will improve by book three.

Erian, who should be the antagonist, becomes far more likeable in book two once we get to know him. Taylor pulls a very typically George RR Martin trick of getting us to relate to a character who *should* be the antagonist, then swinging the story around to show us the very same character from the point of view of *their* opponent. Nice tension building here, and I can see this story is going to head toward an almighty meltdown, as Taylor subverts reader loyalties.

I very much still have that love-hate relationship with KJ Taylor’s writing. There is one issue of a fact that was *very* important that the character knew. So important that I felt it should have been something that would have preyed on his mind from book one, but it only gets a passing mention in book two. I won’t mention what it is, but I howled in frustration when Taylor dropped that bomb. I’m certain this is a plot development that only cropped up in book two. The nature of the fact was such that it is a crux point in a character’s make-up, and to avoid all mention until now is a major WTF moment for me as a reader. My inner editor is crying out for her red pen.

But never mind. I still wanted to know what happened next, and as always Taylor produces a story that does not follow conventional paths. There’s the satisfying sense of anti-hero who’s going to have to fight really hard to escape his wyrd. Whether he succeeds is another matter, and I sense Taylor is an author who isn’t scared of letting her hero fail.

Book three should be interesting. And of course I’m compelled to read the next one in the series. I can’t help myself. For all the rough edges, KJ Taylor tells a mean story.

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