Title: Year of the Griffin by Diana Wynne Jones
Scored a: B
The sequel to Dark Lord of Derkholm was a typical Diana Wynne Jones sequel, in that it was just elaborating the world the first one took place in and wasn’t a continuation of the struggle in the first. Definitely not a complaint, that’s part of what I love about her writing.
Now, you’ll notice this has a lower score than the first one but that’s because some of the brutality in the book didn’t seem to mesh with the writing in other sections, so it’s a technical score that lowered it.
This is also, apparently, a book where Everyone Gets Paired Off, Even The Cameos. But since none of the pairings are repellant, I’m not docking points for that.
So! The plot is that Elda, Derk’s youngest daughter and griffin (although not the youngest anymore. Still a griffin) has gone off to wizarding college. She meets up with five other students and becomes fast friends, but each one (except her) has people back home who’d really rather they not be there. By lethal force, if necessary.
On top of that, most of the teachers are incompetent and amoral.
The students are great. I loved them. The dwarf Ruskin and Claudia the marshlady were my faves that weren’t Elda. The teachers were a recurring ‘toxic authority figure’ that shows up in Diana Wynne Jones’ books a lot, but just because I’m used to that doesn’t make them less frustrating to read, because oh boy do I feel for the people they’re being inflicted on.
Like Dark Lord of Derkholm, Year of the Griffin had a more solid, if abrupt, ending than a lot of her books do. So. Huzzah.
And the premise, which was griffin goes to wizarding school, delivered. Oh goodness, did it deliver. The similar premise, ‘wizard raises griffins as own children’ from the first is what grabbed me the first time. I’m running out of Diana Wynne Jones books I haven’t read yet, but the stuff remaining has been real gems.
Oh god I miss Diana Wynne Jones she was such an amazing author.
If I could make a book wish, I’d like for her to have written another book about the adventures the other half of Derk’s family had that got mentioned as a ‘that’s where they are’ when Elda’s relatives would show up. Because it sounded neat. And I wanted to hear more of the continent of griffins. And more about Elda’s new little winged siblings. But I do not get book wishes.
Anyway! The two griffin books are just aces. I totally recommend them.