Review: The Griffin Mage by Rachel Neumeier

The Griffin MageThe Griffin Mage by Rachel Neumeier
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

I wanted to buy the first novel separately, but Barnes & Noble only had the last two in stock, or the omnibus. So I went out on a limb and bought three books when I wasn't even sure I was going to like the first one.

I'm on the second book right now and OMG, it's so much better than the first, i.e. THERE IS ACTUAL DIALOGUE/I have some idea what's going on. There is a plot, I can pronounce names, etc.

Don't get me wrong, I kept going through the first one. I'm not as patient a book-finisher as I once was, so it kind of means something. The griffins seem cool, and the descriptions are kind of pretty.

The desert, however, made me roll my eyes SO HARD. I have lived in a desert. They are not all that, especially when your body is 70+ per cent water. For Kes, I guess that isn't an issue.

Anyway, so far my complaints about the 1st book are essentially:

1)Can't pronounce any of the names, and I study language. I'm not exactly sure which languages they're supposed to be based from. Japanese? French? Greek? German? SO MANY VOWELS. If I can't figure it out by the third time it's mentioned, I stop caring.

2) There are no character relationships. Like, yeah, there are preexisting filial bonds between Kes & her sister, Bertaud & the king. But outside of that? Kes & Opailikiita? Arbitrary. Kes & Jos? Barren. Like, I get it, Kes has no emotions now, whatever, but apparently Jos doesn't either? Bertaud is not even a real person (round character), in his slavish devotion to the king. I get it, he raised you. You contemplate his sternness and flaws but that just makes you love him more EVEN THOUGH YOU'RE JEALOUS OF HIS WIFE?

3)Meandering plot.

To be continued when I finish the next one.

Ok, finished all three. The next two books are so very differently written than the first. Being all up in Kes' headspace is very disconcerting when you flip to the second book and all a sudden you're following a completely different kind of character. Gereint is older, from a different country, and a slave. But he's a lot easier to get to know, and a lot more likeable than Kes.

The third book is also easier to slip into for the same reason. They're both good, solid reads.

My only complaints (of course I have some) are that the relation ships between Bertaud and... anyone? Tehre? are so lightly dealt with that the reader can only rely on conjecture about what he really felt. Mienthe mentions he seems disappointed, and based on the way Neumeier writes by this point you assume it's his separation from the griffins that is his major disappointment, not that he'd loved and lost someone. I couldn't even tell you if Mienthe is in love with anyone by the end, because she sort of goes out of her way to say she isn't, but could be. GAHHH. Implications.

Normally readers complain about being told things point blank, but I think in this case I would have preferred that to being at sea about all of it.

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