So I was up one night, browsing amazon for some good gryphon books, and I came upon Trueblood’s Plight, by E. S. Lark.
This book was obviously self published, but I’ve seen some great success with that lately (namely Jess Owen’s Song of the Summer King series) so I decided to give this one a read.
Here is the summary, which I pulled off of Goodreads:
Thirty years have passed since the clan’s flight from Tesmar, their beloved gryphon city. Three decades spent searching for safer shores, a place to repopulate and for some, to bury the truth of an age-old prophecy.
Ava always knew she was different, from her pale plumage to her silver eyes, but being a Trueblood—a giphen who can use all forms of magic—takes ‘special’ to a whole new level. With overprotective elders and the enemy advancing from the north, Ava struggles to balance her time on and off the battlefield.
But when numerous attempts are made on her life—an attack on the clan, a rift storm and a mage controlling the minds of her friends from afar—Ava fears there’s another just like her, weakened and magic starved, who’ll stop at nothing to use her powers as his own. She’ll have to hone her skills and exhaust her reserves close to death if she’s to go against him, even if it means forming a dangerous alliance with her enemy
Let me start off by saying that this book is VERY reminiscent of Mercedes Lackey. I don’t think this is an issue per se. For starters, the story and plot are very different. But at the same time, I’d be willing to bet money that this author has read The Black Gryphon. There are many elements that are highly similar.
I too grew up reading Lackey. I think any gryphon fan has probably at least heard of her books, it not read them. So it makes sense that she would seep into our work somehow. I’ve been working very hard to keep that from happening in my own writing, because while I love Mercedes Lackey, I want my story to be my own.
Continuing on, I think this novel really shines in its plot and storyline. While you can tell she read Lackey, Trueblood’s Plight is still very different from any Lackey book. E.S. Lark brings us a new race, giphens, which are basically small gryphons that are more dexterous with their hands, and can preform magic.
She brings us prophecy, and war, and strange new creatures.
On the story and plot alone, this book is nothing short of fantastic.
However, this novel does have some serious short comings that ruined my ability to get into the story as much as I would like. For one, there are little to no solid descriptions of the different races, so I spent most of the time not having a solid idea of what the creature looks like (the mage which is believed to be the main antagonist throughout the story is never fully described). Mercedes Lackey did this all the time with the races that got only a couple of lines of mention and it frustrated me to no end!
The writing is also confusing, and I think with another run past an editor this book would really shine.
The story is written in 3rd person from the view point of the main character. However, things are kept from the reader, that the character would know. The character will also think about doing something, but never clarify that they are doing said action until pages later.
So Ava the giphen may think about flying to a friend’s aerie, but she also thinks that she shouldn’t. You are left thinking that she chose to go home, only to find out paragraphs later, that she did indeed go to her friend’s. There needs to be a conclusion to the decision, so that the reader can understand what the character is thinking. This happens several times, and I was left terribly confused. Characters will talk about the idea of becoming a mated pair, and the next thing you know, they are, even though they never really decided it was going to happen while you were reading.
There is also the issue of not knowing what the main character is thinking. In 3rd person you should either be omniscient or limited, i.e. following a character, and if following a character, you would be in their head, know what they know, and see things from their point of view.
This doesn’t happen. Instead the character and her best female friend know things before you do, which you find out in conversations they have. This could work, except those events were supposed to happen while you were reading, not in the past.
Not to mention that previous actions were so confusing I wasn’t even aware that the events had occurred in order for other things to happen.
***If this is confusing, I’ll write a spoiler below to explain the exact situation. Which will make more sense instead of trying to talk around it. ***
Overall I think this is a good story that needs some work from a decent editor in order to be really great. Would I recommend people read it? Maybe. Certainly after it’s been cleaned up a bit.
So basically the main character falls in love, though it’s never clear whether or not they actually mate because the characters think about it, but there isn’t much indication that they actually do anything other than talk about it.
Then later the MC is chatting with her friend and we learn that the MC is pregnant, and has been for a while. That is something we should have known, not something that was revealed to us through a conversation. I felt like I was being kept at a distance from the main character, and it broke me out of the story continuously. Not to mention there being no clear definition to Ava’s choices (is she going to see her friend, or going home).
At one point, a character dies at the end of a chapter. Then he is alive again in the next chapter, and everyone acts perfectly fine about it for PAGES before there is any explanation, and the explanation is that there is no explanation.