Friday, April 24, 2009

Review: Year of the Griffin

Diana Wynne Jones. Year of the Griffin. HarperTrophy: 2000.

I couldn't resist; I followed up Dark Lord of Derkholm with Year of the Griffin, and I must admit that I enjoyed the sequel enormously. Year of the Griffin takes place 8 years after Dark Lord of Derkholm in a greatly changed world. It focuses on Elda, Wizard Derk's youngest griffin daughter, Elda, as she leaves home to go to the University to study magic. Where Dark Lord of Derkholm was a bit of a clever spoof on sword and sorcery fantasy novels, this volume focuses on a group of magical first year university students, and thus feels highly influenced by Harry Potter. It's also, however, a scathing critique of the absurdities of academia and I personally enjoyed it on both fronts.

This book feels like a cross between the Harry Potter books and Terry Pratchett's Unseen University characters, and it is once again incredibly good-natured; you can't help but liking almost all the characters. Even the bad guys (in this case pompous and neglectful professors) don't seem exactly BAD so much as ignorant and lazy. I liked Jones' variation on the Harry Potter theme in which six members of the 1st year class ALL work together to learn what they aren't being taught. There's a strong sense of equality and cooperation between characters throughout the book, and they face challenges that, while not exactly common everyday events are at least not requiring one character to be the saviour of the world. The six students faces assassins, pirates, mice, jinxes and terrible cafeteria foods - and they defeat these problems with library books and teamwork rather than sheer magical power. These are such fun, sweet, clever adventure stories and I recommend them for anyone who's a fan of magic and wizards.


  1. Not sure if I'd like this, but I'll search it.

  2. I never read any fantasy. I'm so happy your blog exists so I know about it for work (i'm a librarian).