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Year of the Griffin [School & Library Binding]

Diana Wynne Jones
4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (13 customer reviews)

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Book Description

August 2001 061344275X 978-0613442756 Harper Trophy ed
The Wizards' University is short of money. Nothing comes in from tourists any more since Mr Chesney's offworld tours have stopped. High Chancellor Querida has left Wizard Derk and his family to run the world and handsome Wizard Corkoran to run the University. Corkoran is really only interested in being the first man to walk on the moon, but he does send begging letters to the students' parents. But Wizard Derk's daughter Elda turns out to be a large golden griffin, King Luther's son is penniless, the Emperor's sister has been disowned by the Senate and the dwarf, far from owning a hoard of treasure, turns out to be a runaway slave. And then the first reply from a student's family arrives - in the form of assassins ...The situation is definitely out of control.
--This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

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In the very strange Pilgrim Parties of Diana Wynne Jones's Dark Lord of Derkholm, tourists from the next universe would come to wizards' lands expecting to have exciting battles with dwarfs, dragons, and the powers of darkness. Sadly, wizards were forced to host these hokey yet horrific pseudoadventures, and in the process, laid waste to their lands. But as its sequel Year of the Griffin begins, we learn with some relief that the mercenary Mr. Chesney's magic tours had ended eight years previous. While that is excellent news, the Wizards' University is now decidedly short of funds.

Wavy-blond-haired Professor Corkoran has plenty of schemes for extracting money from his students' families. But he always has plenty of ideas, and none of them work. Besides, he is too busy researching how to be the first man to walk on the moon to do much of anything else. As his new crop of students shows up, Corkoran is in for a surprise. Not only do none of them have any money, but one is a huge griffin, "brightly golden in fur and crest and feathers, so sharply curved of beak, and so fiercely alert in her round orange eyes that at first sight she seemed to fill a room." (Meet Elda, softhearted yet gigantic daughter of Wizard Derk.)

The hilarious goings-on begin when Corkoran's moneymaking schemes backfire horribly, and the motley crew of would-be wizards begin their studies. Comical tableaux involving spells that create deep pits and smelly winged monkeys alternate with suspenseful (yet always amusing) scenes involving tiny assassins who mean business. Jones's satirical pokes at academia, racial intolerance (the greenish and jinxed Claudia has mixed blood), and hierarchical societies (Ruskin is bucking the tyranny of the forgemasters to become the first dwarf wizard) keep the story lively, as do the realistic portrayals of her very odd and endearing cast of characters. You definitely don't have to have read Dark Lord to enjoy this wonderful sequel, but you may not be able to resist going back to it. (Ages 12 and older) --Karin Snelson --This text refers to the Hardcover edition.

From Publishers Weekly

Infused with all manner of enchantments, this boisterous spoof of the campus novel reads like a cross between David Lodge and a particularly buoyant incarnation of J.R.R. Tolkien. Standards at the Wizards' University have fallen grievously in recent years: under the leadership of Wizard Corkoran (a charismatic slacker preoccupied with dreams of moon travel), the school's main goals seem to be to enrich its coffers and graduate classes of mediocre bureaucrats. Into this unpromising situation bounds first-year student Elda, griffin daughter of the powerful Wizard Derk (the eccentric breeder of flying pigs, winged horses, etc., previously seen in Jones's Dark Lord of Derkholm). Elda becomes fast friends with other new students, among them a rebel dwarf, a penniless crown prince, the Emperor's jinxed half-sister and two youths who must hide their true identities. A newly kindled passion for the great works of magical literature and a shared struggle against such foes as a tyrannical professor and a band of trained assassins deepen the bonds of the students' friendship. One exuberantly inventive adventure follows the next all the way to the pleasing conclusion, in which matches are made, secrets revealed and numerous loose ends tied up. Great fun. Ages 10-up. (Oct.)
Copyright 2000 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to the Hardcover edition.

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Customer Reviews

4.2 out of 5 stars
4.2 out of 5 stars
Most helpful customer reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars Shipped quickly! Dec 12 2013
By Kit
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
I haven't actually opened this yet as it is a Christmas present for me, but it arrived very quickly and it's an excellent book so I don't really care about condition :)
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5.0 out of 5 stars I love griffins... May 28 2005
By yvette
... although I still haven't quite figured out in my head how their beaks move then they talk because we use lips to form words and they don't have any.
Anyways, this is the sequel to Dark Lord of Derkholm (which you really should read first), and although different in quality is equally as entertaining. I loved seeing the familiar characters pop in and out, and getting updates on them. Although I would have liked to see more of them, I hardly noticed as we were busy getting to know a whole new cast of intriguing character... Elda's new classmates.
I took this book up in the evening just before bedtime. Always a bad idea. I was reading all night! I thought I would have enough self control to stop after a chapter or so but Diana Wynne Jones had me hooked. Right from our first meeting with Elda's new classmates, I was already laughing out loud.
Instead of the questing and defeating the enemies tone of the first book, this book focused more on renewal and growth, of both Elda and her classmate friends, as well as of the University. And as I mentioned before, it was great to hear of all the familiar faces.
I long for a third book from this world! Her fan website says she has promised her sister that she will write one. Can't wait!
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5.0 out of 5 stars I want a sequal to this sequal! May 11 2002
By A Customer
This book is as great as the origanel book, Dark Lord of Derkholm. It is about Elda as she goes to the Wizard's Universety. It also is about her friends and the problems they have. Although it is a great book, it is not like Dark Lord of Derkholm, and Derk is barely in the book.
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4.0 out of 5 stars A wonderful story, though... Feb. 22 2002
As a sequel to "The Dark Lord Of Derkhom", this book does not continue the plot of Derk, the former "Dark Lord", but instead follows his young griffin daughter, Elda, as she attends Wizard's University. Elda, the kind-hearted giant golden cat/bird, makes several friends (each with their own different and strange pasts and personalities) and a crush on a certain teacher.
The plot of "Griffin" does not really stay the same. It basically follows the first year of Elda and her friends' year at the Wizard's University. Through strange magic (using oranges, which the group seems to adore), the friends must protect one of their own from his kingdoms assasins. If only they could convince the teachers that there really are assasins...
Hopefully DWJ will follow this up with a sequel to finish the love insinuations at the end of the book, but it looks doubtful. Nonetheless, read this book if you want a twisted, funny outlook on a traditional fantasy story!
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Diana Wynne Jones is my all-time favorite author.
But she doesn't do well with sequels.
Her characterization is flawless. Her ability to weave life's little nuisances and quibbles into great world-changing events is what gives her her universal appeal.
But when she writes a sequel, she always seems to have lost interest in her characters and their world already. And that is the problem with this book.
She should probably swear off the sequels... and keep moving into new worlds.
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4.0 out of 5 stars entertaining read, although not her best July 12 2001
i'm an avid fan of DWJ's earlier works ... although i like the world of -dark lord- and -griffin- better than the chrestomanci or cart and cwidder novels, the characterization and plot here seems more forced than her previous books, such as -hexwood-, -archer's goon-, -fire and hemlock-, and -howl's moving castle-. the book lacks DWJ's more typical clever plot twists and page-turning action (the bulk of the story takes place at the wizard university and consists of more reaction than action) ... still, DWJ juggles her large cast easily and the book contains her characteristically readable text and her great sense of humour, along with creative situations and characters, such as seven miniaturized assassins teaming up with pirates who have been turned into mice and two characters who have jinxes. not her best book, but worth reading ... better than -dark lord-, in my opinion.
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3.0 out of 5 stars Almost fun, but too short.. July 4 2001
This book seemed to be about half as long as it should have been for everything that happened in it. The action sequences are reminiscent of Jones' prequel The Dark Lord of Derkholm, but when there was a lull things seemed to happen offstage a lot. I enjoy the way Diana Wynne Jones writes, in that the griffin characters, although nonhuman, are still people. However, as much as I like the characters and feel for them, the story seemed squashed, as if there was too much happening at once to write in one book.
Warning, very minor spoilers ahead.
In particular the romances wrapped up all too quickly at the end. Lydda's was forgivable, though it feels like there should be another book or a half of one devoted to the trip to the other continent, meeting the griffins there and ending their war, and the trip back. But if this book's last chapter is any indication, love at first sight is incredibly common. Perhaps the author simply isn't good at writing romance; but I felt cheated at the end to see everyone getting paired up, all crushed into about ten pages. Perhaps if the relationships had been scattered through the rest of the book and it were expanded by about five chapters it wouldn't feel so sudden. The author should try to take a cue from other famous fantasy authors, such as Mercedes Lackey and Terry Pratchett, and at least have characters interacting for some time before they fall in love. It would certainly make them ring truer to the reader.
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