Book Review: Year of the Griffin by Diana Wynne Jones

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Yet another review on a book by Diana Wynne Jones!

Year of the Griffin is the sequel to Dark Lord of Derkholm, a book I read as a kid and had to pull out again for nostalgia’s sake. I loved the novel back in the day (this was probably my fourth time reading it) but I wanted to see if it was still as good as I remembered.

The Facts

It is eight years after the tours from offworld have stopped. High Chancellor Querida has retired, leaving Wizard Corkoran in charge of the Wizards’ University. Although Wizard Corkoran’s obsession is to be the first man on the moon, and most of his time is devoted to this project, he decides he will teach the new first years himself in hopes of currying the favor of the new students’ families—for surely they must all come from wealth, important families—and obtaining money for the University (which it so desperately needs). But Wizard Corkoran is dismayed to discover that one of those students—indeed, one he had such high hopes for, Wizard Derk’s own daughter Elda—is a huge golden griffin, and that none of the others has any money at all.

Wizard Corkoran’s money-making scheme backfires, and when Elda and her new friends start working magic on their own, the schemes go wronger still. And when, at length, Elda ropes in her brothers Kit and Blade to send Corkoran to the moon… well… life at the Wizards’ University spins magically and magnificently out of control.

This breathtakingly brilliant sequel to Dark Lord of Derkholm is all one would expect from this master of genre.

My Take?

Once again, another hit from Diana Wynne Jones! On its own, the second novel in the Derkholm series would make an intriguing and fun standalone story, but knowing what these characters were like as children and seeing how they’ve grown and changed in eight years is fascinating.

The world created by Jones is as vibrant as ever, bringing together characters from drastically different parts of her world to the wizarding university. Elda, griffin daughter to Derk from the preceding novel, wants nothing more than what any teenager would want- to survive school and make friends. Although her friends happen to be dwarves, princes, marshwomen, and a variety of other unique characters, all the students struggle with term papers, family issues, and young love. The interactions are realistic and easy to relate to for the reader.

Now, throw in determined assassins, parental pirates, and temperamental throwback griffins, and the plot becomes a delightfully twisted mess. Jones weaves an exciting tale that’s fast paced enough to keep you on your toes, yet in-depth enough for a reader to be fully engaged in the lives and happiness of Elda and her friends. And she throws in just enough love and attraction to keep you giddy and smiling 🙂

Overall an excellent book, Five out of Five stars! I would highly recommend Year of the Griffin for readers of all ages, from middle school children to those who are just children at heart. Definitely a fun summer read 🙂

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