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Year of the Griffin (2000)

by Diana Wynne Jones

Other authors: See the other authors section.

Series: Derkholm (2)

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1,463269,615 (4.04)84
When Elda, the griffin daughter of the great Wizard Derk, arrives for schooling at the Wizards' University, she encounters new friends, pirates, assassins, worry, sabotage, bloodshed, and magic misused.

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English (24)  Swedish (1)  German (1)  All languages (26)
Showing 1-5 of 24 (next | show all)
Nine years have passed since the Pilgrim Parties have ended and the world is still finding its feet. High Chancellor Querida has not resigned, but moved herself to the Wastes to restore the world and has left the University with a governing board. Most senior faculty retired as well, leaving the University in younger hands. Instead of embracing the opportunity of having a Boomer-free educational playground, the wizards are struggling. All these wizards have known is the tour and they only teach the methods that worked to keep a wizard and their party alive during a tour. Despite raising fees, there's not enough money coming in to fix the roofs and the food in the cafeteria must continue to go downhill.

The Wizard Corcoran, University Chairman, is concerned about this lack of money because it prevents him from focusing on his moon rocket research. He's skimmed from the top of the newest crop of students in the hope of gaining some valuable doners. Unfortunately, though his six students have blood ties to powerful and rich political states and the youngest child of Wizard Derk, no extra money appears to be forthcoming. In fact, the University's letter requesting donations causes some interesting consequences.

When I first read this I was disappointed that 'Year of the Griffin' wasn't the perfection that 'Dark Lord of Derkholm' was. This time I can finally appreciate this for what it is: another weird gem of a book from Diana Wynne Jones. The book is absurd and there are too many characters and assassins, but it actually works quite well. When are you ever going to get another chance to go to Mars with a griffin?


Previous: 'Dark Lord of Derkholm' ( )
  ManWithAnAgenda | Feb 27, 2021 |
I much preferred this follow-on to Dark Lord of Derkholm. I never bought the "tour groups overrunning the world" plot of Dark Lord. It always seemed to me to be a joke for a flimsy short story that made it difficult to understand or empathize with any of the leading characters. The focus primarily on adult characters also made it an odd tale for the young adult market. Year of the Griffen has neither of those flaws, plenty of invention, some wry digs at universities, and a plot that initially seems episodic but eventually leads into a grand knot at the end, if a little too pat with too many happy endings.

Recommended. ( )
  ChrisRiesbeck | Jan 23, 2021 |
Sequel to Dark lord of Derkholm ( )
  ME_Dictionary | Mar 20, 2020 |
Sequel to Dark lord of Derkholm ( )
  ME_Dictionary | Mar 19, 2020 |
DWJ Book Toast, #13

Diana Wynne Jones is one of my favorite fantasy authors, growing up and now, and I was saddened by the news of her death. I can't say I'm overcome with emotion - as personal as some of her work is to me, its not like I knew her after all - but I wish I could put into words how I feel about her no longer being out there, writing new adventures and laughing at all of us serious fans thinking so hard about her words when we should simply get on with the business of enjoying them.

And that's...what I'm going to do. She's left behind a huge body of work, a large amount of which I haven't read yet, so I'm going to reread all my old favorites (and hopefully some new).

Diana Wynne Jones was the absolute worst when it came to sequels. This book is not necessarily bad, it just takes a long time to find its groove. Which is unusual for her. It's doubly unusual, too, for being a direct sequel. Unlike with her other series, you need to have read 'Dark Lord of Derkholm' to enjoy this book at all.

Jones does her best to circumvent this with a dump of exposition in the early pages of 'Year of the Griffin', and other than Elda, youngest griffin daughter of Wizard Derk, you don't see much of any character from 'Dark Lord' until much later in the book. Still, it's not enough. Too much just won't make sense without the reference point of the first book.

I'm going to go out on a limb and say that, with the possible exception of the 'Dalemark Quartet' (which I haven't read yet), this is the ONLY Diana Wynne Jones sequel where that is the case. That was one of her foremost talents, she created stories and worlds so complete that you might want to read more about it/them, but you didn't really need to. I'm not sure what motivated this book. Because most of her sequels were also many, many years apart from each other. This is only 2 (but the story advances 9).

It was just confused, and didn't have the strong central point (like the Tours, like Derkholm's family dynamic) that ties the story together. Its a series of events that ultimately don't add up. Especially when you remember the Gods' statement at the end of 'Dark Lord of Derkholm': "[To help rebuild the world] We give you the children of the Wizards Derk and Mara"

I mean, when Kit, Blade, Querida, &c. do show up and tell Elda what they've been up to, I always wish they had played the more central role. Jones probably tried and couldn't get it to gel.

Oh well. The book is not a total loss, there's plenty of college-related humor on top of what Jones usually offers, and the new characters do shine after a while. It's just that, 'Dark Lord of Derkholm' was so...perfect. It didn't deserve this sequel treatment.


Previous: 'Dark Lord of Derkholm' ( )
  ManWithAnAgenda | Feb 18, 2019 |
Showing 1-5 of 24 (next | show all)
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» Add other authors (5 possible)

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Diana Wynne Jonesprimary authorall editionscalculated
Broadbent, JonathanNarratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Dawson, GemmaNarratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Smith, DuncanCover artistsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Smith, Joseph A.Cover artistsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Sullivan, JonIllustratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Wyatt, DavidCover artistsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed

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For Susan Hirschman
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Nothing was going right with the Wizards' University.
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When Elda, the griffin daughter of the great Wizard Derk, arrives for schooling at the Wizards' University, she encounters new friends, pirates, assassins, worry, sabotage, bloodshed, and magic misused.

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(whichever universe you
live in) challenging.

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