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Year of the Griffin School & Library Binding – Aug 2001

4.2 out of 5 stars 13 customer reviews

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School & Library Binding, Aug 2001
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Product Details

  • School & Library Binding: 390 pages
  • Publisher: Turtleback Books: A Division of Sanval; Harper Trophy ed edition (August 2001)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 061344275X
  • ISBN-13: 978-0613442756
  • Product Dimensions: 17.7 x 11.2 x 3.3 cm
  • Shipping Weight: 295 g
  • Average Customer Review: 4.2 out of 5 stars 13 customer reviews
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Product Description

From Amazon

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
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Top Customer Reviews

Format: Paperback
... 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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Format: Hardcover
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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Format: Hardcover
In this sequel to "The Dark Lord of Derkholm", we follow Derk's daughter Elda's first year at the Wizard's University. Elda is an enthusiastic, excitable girl who happens to be a griffin. The story focuses on the shortcomings of the faculty of the Wizard's University (all of whom learned magic purely to service the tours which until recently devasted the country), and the various problems of Elda's circle of friends (whose family/people at home would be less than happy to know where they are).
Year of the Griffin is a fun little romp, but doesn't reach the heights of intensity and resonance found in so many other of Jones' novels. Perhaps because the primary cast is so big, the resolutions of their problems aren't felt so intensely. It also seems like a novel is missing from in between "Griffin" and "Dark Lord", as most of Elda's family are off cleaning up a war on another continent and a number of characters involved in the close of "Griffin" seem to have originated in this "missing period" between "Dark Lord" and "Griffin".
Definitely buy "Griffin" - it's a thoroughly enjoyable romp. But at times it feels like the surface of several novels whose depths we never quite reach.
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By A Customer on Oct. 13 2000
Format: Hardcover
In Year of the Griffin, Diana Wynne Jones returns to a world she's written about twice before - in the children's novel The Dark Lord of Derkholm, and in the adult(?) book The Tough Guide to Fantasyland. It's a pity, too, because the books have been declining in quality as she goes. The Tough Guide was a reasonably funny book for readers of fantasy and RPGers, Dark Lord was a rather standard, empty romp, and now - Year of the Griffin. Which, unfortunately, has the characteristic Jones tone, but lacks the wit, the intelligence, and especially the cohesive plot of her best books.
The eponymous griffin is Elda, the daughter of the human magician Derk, and the year portion of the title refers to her freshman year at the magical university. (Please, no comparisons to Hogwarts or to the Unseen University - it isn't in the same league as either.) The university is seriously strapped for cash, and the members of Elda's class all have secrets - and most of them are being hunted for one reason or another.
The freshmen become a group, and together repel assassins, parents, and problems in ways that should be thoroughly hilarious, but somehow aren't. The feel of Jones' former works is present but the joy is not. Much of the problem appears to be that the author is too fond of her characters; the gigantic but gentle Elda and her cohort occupy a lot of the space that should be plot. The book feels stretched and very light, like a two-page essay made to look like an 8 page one.
It isn't necessary to begin this series at the beginning; if for some reason you want to, you can begin with Year of the Griffin. But if you've never read Jones before, start with her children's classics - Archer's Goon, The Ogre Downstairs - or her best adult novel, Deep Secret. It pains me to say this, because I love Jones' writing, but - unless you're a diehard fan, give Year of the Griffin a miss.
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