Wednesday, July 28, 2010
Title: Lord of the Changing Winds
Author: Rachel Neumeier
Publisher: Orbit, 2010
Rating: 4 crowns
The desert winds have come to the village of Minas Ford. Griffins, creatures of fire, have appeared in a burning haze - searing the sky a blinding white and scorching the earth to parched, barren sand. These majestic beasts, half-lion, half-eagle, spread arid desert wherever they roam!
For shy young Kes, gathering healing herbs alone in the meadows, they are a sight to wonder at and she feels none of the fear that the other villagers do when they discover the presence of the griffins. So when a dark stranger appears in Minas Ford and tells her many griffins are wounded and the king of the griffins is dying and only she has the power to heal them , she goes with him.
King Iaor's response is very different. He is a good king and very aware of his responsibilities but with the kingdom of Feierabiand bordered on both sides by other kingdoms he is constantly vigilant for the signs of any aggression that will disturb the peace of his land. He sees the griffins as a threat and will not tolerate the destruction of his people's farmland. Like a medieval ruler he holds the power and he makes the decisions. He sends his friend and trusted advisor, Bertaud , with an army to drive the griffins away with force. An act that ends in defeat but opens the way for more peaceable negotiations between Iaor and the king of the griffins which results in the discovery that all is not what it seems and the greater threat lies with the neighbouring king.
I don't read a great deal of fantasy and I'm particular about the sort of fantasy I read but I enjoyed this immensely. It starts a little slowly as the author builds her fantasy world but once the action begins it's a very exciting page turner. The descriptions of the individual griffins and the desert of fire they live in are stunning although I did have some problems with the complexity of their names. Anasakuse Sipiike Kairaithin and Eskainiane Escaile Sehaikiu don't exactly roll off the tongue! Kairaithin is the griffin fire mage and is definitely the strongest and most intriguing character although not always likeable in his attempts to take away the humanness of Kes and turn her into a fire mage also. Kes makes an interesting heroine as the more she takes on griffin qualities the more remote and indifferent she becomes while Iaor and Bertaud provide the necessary earthy human contrast.
Lord of the Changing Winds is the first book of the Griffin Mage Trilogy - a tale of kings and mythical creatures, mages and warriors, battles and political intrigue that will surely please fantasy lovers. The second in the series - Land of the Burning Sands has already been released and I look forward to reading it.
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Royal Reviewer Angela Renee at 10:10 AM