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Series Review (& Giveaway): The Griffin Mage Trilogy by Rachel Neumeier

To date, Ana and I have done a few of these “I Love This Series” posts – and I am happy to add another series to the lineup, with Rachel Neumeier’s Griffin Mage Trilogy: Lord of the Changing Winds, Land of the Burning Sands, and Law of the Broken Earth. The trilogy has recently been collected in a single omnibus titled, aptly, The Griffin Mage Trilogy. (And on another note, as is tradition with these series reviews, this piece will be spoiler free!)

The Griffin Mage trilogy, now complete in one volume, tells the story of the war between men and griffins — and the young girl, torn between two worlds, who will decide the fate of all.

Little ever happens in the quite villages of peaceful Feierabiand. The course of Kes’ life sees set: she’ll grow up to be an herb-woman and healer for the village of Minas Ford, never quite fitting in but always more or less accepted. And she’s content with that path — or she thinks she is.

Until the day the griffins come down from the mountains, bringing with them the fiery wind of their desert and a desperate need for a healer. But what the griffins need is a healer who is not quite human… or a healer who can be made into something not quite human.

This omnibus edition contains the complete Griffin Mage trilogy: Lord of the Changing Wind, Land of the Burning Sands and Law of the Broken Earth.

Comprising three books, this series tells the story of three different kingdoms in the country of man – Feierabiand, Casmantium, and Linularium – and the struggle that unfolds when the careful balance between man and Wild Magic is broken. In Lord of the Changing Winds, Griffins, magic creatures of sand and fire, appear in the sleepy Feierabiand town of Minas Ford, seeking a gifted healer. Kes, a fifteen year old girl who believed her life would follow the same pattern as every other girl of Minas Ford before her, discovers her own latent powers and becomes a mage of fire. The act of the Griffins leaving their desert to the north and crossing into the country of man, however, terrifies and threatens the King of Feierabiand, who sends his troops and trusted friend and advisor Bertaud to investigate.

When the Arobern, King Brechen of the neighboring country of Casmantium, attempts to use the Griffins as an opportunity to take land from Feierabiand, his plan crumbles and the war is lost. The Griffins call up their burning wind and scorch the land, extending their impossible desert and laying waste to any other life in their path. In Land of the Burning Sands, Casmantian slave Gereint Enseichen uses the devastation as a chance to escape from the geas – the magical bond of servitude to his master that forces him to physically do everything as he is ordered. Gereint barely survives the desert, thanks to a chance encounter with Amnachudran, a theoretical healer magician. After earning each others’ trust, Amnachudran finds a way to remove the brand that marks Gereint’s face (identifying him as a geas bound slave to all that would claim him and use the magical bond for their own), and sends Gereint – a type of mage known as a “maker” – to aid his daughter, Tehre, in her applications of magic. Things become complicated when Gereint finds himself in the service of the Arobern’s last Cold Mage, Beguchren Teshrichten, and Tehre takes her particular skill of making (and understanding of unmaking) to the north, following Bertraud of Feierabiand to help with the creation of a formidable wall…

In Law of the Broken Earth, we meet Mienthe, a young girl that has just inherited a great deal of land and power with the death of her father and the absence of any other heirs. Sent to live with her conniving Uncle, Mienthe’s future looks bleak until her long lost cousin Bertraud returns and assumes his role as Lord of the Delta – and takes Mienthe as his ward. As the years pass and Mienthe grows into a young woman, Bertraud’s old friend, the griffin mage Kairaithin sweeps back into his life bringing ill tidings; Tehre’s wall is breaking, and the griffins will call up the winds to bury all the countries of man under the burning sands. The task of righting the balance between Wild Magic, between man and griffin, now falls into the hands of Mienthe – who must discover her own latent powers – and the unlikely spymaster Tan, who has discovered grave information from Linularium.

This trilogy is unexpected, to say the least. While there is an overarching story – that of the griffins and different kingdoms, struggling to find balance and avoid annihilation – each of the books in the trilogy follows different characters and could, conceivably, be read alone. The first entry, Lord of the Changing Winds is surprisingly the most griffin-centric novel in the series – it is in this book that we learn about these dangerous, powerful creatures and understand how different they are from the humans to the south. In contrast, the second and third books are more focused on politics and human characters, some more memorable than others. I absolutely loved the main characters in all three books, from the shockingly unsympathetic Kes in the first novel, to the moving stories of Gereint and Tehre, and finally Mienthe (oh how I LOVED Mienthe!) in the second and third books. Each novel does have the shared greater conflict of impending war, the loss of balance, and magic, and each book does push that overarching theme towards a resolution – and I truly loved the way things played out by the conclusion of the last book.

Beyond the characters, the most impressive thing about this series is the magical and political balance that Ms. Neumeier has created. I loved the balance of different mages, which include not only the power of fire and ice, but also earth, healing, making and unmaking, speech with animals, amongst other abilities. The balance of the different kingdoms and their opportunistic tendencies also plays out strongly in the series, and I love that we do get to see each different country from varied perspectives.

The only criticisms I have for the trilogy are twofold – first, if you don’t know that the books are only loosely related and expect a more linear, straightforward trilogy that follows a core group of familiar characters, you’ll probably be confused by the second and third novels (I know I was). To be fair, that’s not so much a criticism as it is an unsolicited expectation – and when I did adjust to the different characters and focus, I found myself easily immersed in each separate book. The other actual criticism is to do with pacing – while the first book is evenly paced and moves along smoothly, the second and third books start strong but tend towards some protractedness by mid-novel. There’s some mundane detail, a few ineffectual detours and interactions, but this is a minor nitpick in what is otherwise a fantastic trilogy.

Absolutely recommended, especially for those fans looking for a traditional style fantasy trilogy in which to immerse themselves (without the torture of waiting indeterminable lengths between books).

Overall Series Rating: 7 – Very Good

Reading Next: Liesl & Po by Lauren Oliver

Giveaway Details:

Thanks to the generous Rachel Neumeier, we have a copy of Land of the Burning Sands, Law of the Broken Earth AND a complete omnibus for giveaway to three lucky winners! In order to enter, simply leave a comment here letting us know what your favorite magical creature – griffin, dragon, unicorn, or otherwise! – is. The contest is open to residents of the US and Canada, and will run until Saturday, November 19 at 11:59PM (PST). Good luck!

Buy the Omnibus:

Ebook available for kindle US, kindle UK, nook, apple, google, kobo & sony

88 Comments

  • SandyG265
    November 17, 2011 at 8:24 am

    I like dragons since they were the first magical creature I read about.

  • Tina
    November 17, 2011 at 8:32 am

    My favorite magical creature is probably a phoenix.

  • Sara
    November 17, 2011 at 9:11 am

    A little torn about what might constitute a magical creature, but I will say elves.

  • Serenity
    November 17, 2011 at 9:21 am

    Wow this series sounds really fantastic! Sort of reminds me of Tamora Pierce type fantasy.

    As for favorite magical creature – I can’t really say I have one favorite, but since I’ve just finished A Dance With Dragons, I’ll go with direwolves. They’re pretty badass and awesome, though if I ever came across one I’d probably drop dead from fear.

  • Stephanie D.
    November 17, 2011 at 9:50 am

    This question is a no-brainer for me! Griffins, without a doubt. I was inspired to name my son Griffin after a book, Griffin and Sabine, in which the title character drew these creatures.

    Thank you for this giveaway!

  • smeek1958
    November 17, 2011 at 9:52 am

    I’ve actually got two favorites, unicorns & dragons. When my husband and I got married 31 yrs ago, he was Dragon & I was Unicorn. We’ve both loved them for many, many years.

  • Misti
    November 17, 2011 at 9:59 am

    This sounds like my kind of series. I’d have to go with dragons.

  • Heidi
    November 17, 2011 at 10:19 am

    My favorite magical creature would have to be daemons – guardian spirits given to man by Zues. Besides, what lover of His Dark Materials hasn’t spent time pondering what form their daemon would take?

  • hapax
    November 17, 2011 at 10:23 am

    I love Rachel Neuemeier’s prose and am so glad to hear these books are being re-issued. (Especially since I missed them somehow)

    Favorite paranormal creature: tengu. I am fascinated by their cleverness and mischievousness and sneakiness and vicious practicality, and how they can seem like a mere “trickster” then suddenly reveal awesome power.

  • sandyl
    November 17, 2011 at 10:23 am

    My favorite magical creature is a dragon. This sounds like a good series. πŸ˜€

  • Su
    November 17, 2011 at 10:25 am

    Mermaids! In all their various incarnations, from selkies to sirens.

    Thank you for hosting this giveaway!

  • Allison
    November 17, 2011 at 10:48 am

    I have been wanting to read this series for ages, seeing this review has reminded me…

    I love reading books about elves – but my favorite magical creature of all time would be Dobby the house elf πŸ™‚

  • Lori Strongin
    November 17, 2011 at 11:08 am

    Sounds good! You don’t see griffons as staring creatures in a lot of high fantasies, so I’m definitely by the uniqueness of the plotline.

    Fav fantasy creature? Hmm…I’m probably have to go with the ifrit–they’re spirit guardians of natural elements (like fire and rock), and I’ve always thought it would be cool to have magic powers like that.

    Thanks for the giveaway op!

    Smiles!
    Lori

  • bigfoot24
    November 17, 2011 at 11:27 am

    I would have to say phoenix because I love the image of birth/death/rebirth that they represent!

  • Katherine Ortega
    November 17, 2011 at 11:30 am

    Dragons, definitely!

  • Kaethe
    November 17, 2011 at 11:45 am

    Selkies followed by dragons; I just love the creatures who can exist in different environments.

  • David H.
    November 17, 2011 at 11:47 am

    My favorite magical creature is the panserbjorn (armored bear). So dang cool.

  • Michelle
    November 17, 2011 at 11:53 am

    This is awesome! I’ve wanted to read something by Rachel Neumeier, but the only books I knew of were out of print.

    My favorite fantasy creature is a dragon, though I love fantasy creatures in general.

  • Jamie
    November 17, 2011 at 11:58 am

    Oh, I love dragons of course. Too many hours spent reading books about dragons for it to be any other, really. Really obscure folk-lore creatures of any kind are popping up a lot more lately and I appreciate that a lot, too.

  • Kate N (YzhaBella)
    November 17, 2011 at 11:59 am

    My favorite magical creature are fae, but dragons are a very close second.

    Thanks for the great event! I’ve been hoping to get my greed lil’ hands on these titles so I really appreciate the chance to win!

  • Liz
    November 17, 2011 at 12:18 pm

    Ordinarily I would say dragons are my favorite, but having recently reread The Dark Lord of Derkholm I’m going to have to go with griffins.

    I love it when you guys do a review of an entire series! Especially when it’s one where you have already been doing a review for each entry in the series. On a similar note, are you guys going to review One Salt Sea? I seem to remember you doing all of the other books in that series.

  • LB
    November 17, 2011 at 12:21 pm

    Favorite magical creatures: house elves!

  • Teresa N
    November 17, 2011 at 12:28 pm

    Hm, I’d have to go with dragons. Especially the Temeraire series, Patricia Wrede’s Enchanted Forest books, and Hurog duology…there are so many good interpretations of them πŸ™‚
    Thanks for the giveaway!

  • Sheila
    November 17, 2011 at 12:39 pm

    Unicorns, thanks to early exposure to Peter S. Beagle!

  • jill heather
    November 17, 2011 at 12:43 pm

    I always liked the magical salamander. Like an awesome, pocket-sized dragon.

  • Kevin Sly
    November 17, 2011 at 12:52 pm

    My favorite magical creature has always been a dragon. The pursuit of dragons lead to my first introduction to the fantasy genre. I discovered them when I was young and they have never left my thoughts.

  • Lsquires
    November 17, 2011 at 1:13 pm

    Falkor the luckdragon, from the never ending story.

  • Bookyurt
    November 17, 2011 at 1:14 pm

    The Pegasus – because for every girl who ever wanted a horse, how much better would if be if they could FLY?

  • pscott
    November 17, 2011 at 1:17 pm

    Dragons, always dragons. I blame being read the Hobbit at an impressionable age and the rad stuffed dragon I had.

  • sterling
    November 17, 2011 at 3:00 pm

    My favorite would be dragons. Always dragons. They’re (normally) huge, can fly, and breath fire. What’s not to like? (Besides that whole eating people and killing knights thing).

    My school mascot though was a pegasus. They, and phoenixes, can tie for my second favorite.

  • Luis C.
    November 17, 2011 at 3:21 pm

    My favourite would be the dragon… and a close second the phoenix.

  • Allison
    November 17, 2011 at 4:02 pm

    My favorite mystical creature is probably the Phoenix(:

  • pamelia
    November 17, 2011 at 4:06 pm

    Dragons for me! Thanks for the great contest!

  • Justine
    November 17, 2011 at 4:36 pm

    Phoenix claims the top spot but I’ll also talk up the Chinese dragon (in contrast to the European dragon — different cultural mythologies).

  • Breanne M.
    November 17, 2011 at 4:59 pm

    Definitely dragons. Thanks for the contest!

  • Ellie
    November 17, 2011 at 5:01 pm

    Dragons definitely!

  • Katie
    November 17, 2011 at 5:34 pm

    Dragons! But the ones that are from Asian mythology. This series looks pretty cool.

  • kelly
    November 17, 2011 at 5:55 pm

    Despite my love of unicorns, I have to give this one to dragons. When I was a young ‘un, I would’ve given anything for a fire lizard. It was deeply unfair that they didn’t exist in our world.

  • Alex
    November 17, 2011 at 6:07 pm

    I’ve been looking for some good fantasy lately, and this looks great!

    It’s a tossup between unicorns and dragons, but I have to say the dragons win this time. Their legendary propensity for shiny and ability to breathe fire are absolutely made of win.

  • Charlotte
    November 17, 2011 at 6:14 pm

    I loved the two books of hers I’ve read, so am happy to enter myself–phoenixes for me, please!

  • Rachel
    November 17, 2011 at 6:34 pm

    I’m partial to basilisks, myself. Nothing quite as awesome as a giant snake!

  • Maya
    November 17, 2011 at 6:56 pm

    I must say that my favorite would be the dragon. They are such magical creatures that represent such beauty and grace. If the world is missing anything, its a bunch of dragons flying around bringing an unkown grace. What they represent means so much to me.

  • Marie B.
    November 17, 2011 at 6:58 pm

    Dragons, mostly because of early exposure via the Pern series. But shape-shifting cats like those in Shirley Rousseau Murphy’s the Catswold Portal, or the Cait Sidhe in the Toby Daye series, are a close second. πŸ™‚

  • Caitlin
    November 17, 2011 at 7:17 pm

    I’d have to say dragons or phoenixes! They are both told in some incredible stories!

  • Amy C
    November 17, 2011 at 7:25 pm

    Dragon. Most definitely dragons. They’re powerful and wise, yet they’re also shown as greedy and rash: they’re as flawed as people.

  • Lgs
    November 17, 2011 at 7:52 pm

    I just discovered your blog! I love it so far and I have added some of the books to my reading list which btw has 92 books on it! I have been looking for a book blog lately and I think this one is for me! πŸ˜€ πŸ˜€ πŸ˜†

  • Jen B.
    November 17, 2011 at 8:08 pm

    I want to win this. This series is on my wish list. Favorite magical creature? Hmmm, I think the Fae. I know, it’s not a creature, it’s a race but there is just something so appealling about the various type of Fae!

  • Jasmine
    November 17, 2011 at 8:14 pm

    Eversince Diana Wynne Jones’ Dark Lord Of Derkholm my favorite magical creature would probably be a griffin. Though if I had the opportunity to BE a magical creature, I’d want to be a dragon, for what that’s worth. πŸ˜€

  • Stephanie
    November 17, 2011 at 8:37 pm

    My favorite magical creature is a unicorn.

  • Debbie
    November 17, 2011 at 8:42 pm

    My favorite would be a phoenix, but dragons are a very close second.

  • Julie Witt
    November 17, 2011 at 9:07 pm

    I love dragons, but my favorite is Pegasus!!

  • Caroline
    November 17, 2011 at 9:37 pm

    I have always wanted to grow up to be a centaur. Or at least know one. Books like Narnia and movies like Fantastia just make it seem awesome. Being able to run like a horse and still have thumbs for the iPhone? Centaurs take the cake.

  • de Pizan
    November 17, 2011 at 9:38 pm

    I’ve always thought centaurs were pretty amazing. Thanks for the giveaway.

  • Nicole B
    November 17, 2011 at 10:12 pm

    I absolutely adore dragons.

  • Raina
    November 17, 2011 at 10:22 pm

    Dragons, for sure. There are so many different types, and so many ways to spin them into a story.

  • Agnes
    November 17, 2011 at 10:30 pm

    What’s with all the dragon love? Pegasus, without a doubt.

  • draconismoi
    November 17, 2011 at 11:17 pm

    Dragons! As if there was ever any doubt.

  • jenn
    November 18, 2011 at 2:54 am

    Phoenix!

  • SwiftScribbler
    November 18, 2011 at 5:23 am

    Griffons!

  • Katy
    November 18, 2011 at 6:02 am

    Mermaids! I grew up always pretending to be one whenever I was in water. πŸ™‚

  • Katrina
    November 18, 2011 at 6:26 am

    I love the griffins from Dark Lord of Derkholm by Diana Wynne Jones!

  • CrystalGB
    November 18, 2011 at 7:20 am

    A dragon is my favorite mythical creature. Thanks for the giveaway.

  • MarieC
    November 18, 2011 at 7:29 am

    I’ve always loved the dracogriff from Christopher Stasheff’s Wizard in Rhyme series (he doesn’t show up until the second book).

  • Laura
    November 18, 2011 at 7:41 am

    I like dragons. πŸ˜€

  • Becky
    November 18, 2011 at 8:14 am

    Gargoyle is my favorite!

  • Kristyna
    November 18, 2011 at 9:34 am

    Unicorns πŸ™‚

  • Jill
    November 18, 2011 at 10:07 am

    I’ve always loved the phoenix, but I don’t know…maybe Neumeier will change my mind.

  • Lauren
    November 18, 2011 at 10:19 am

    Talking dogs. I’ve always wanted one – although, I think if my dog could take, she would never shut up, so maybe it’s a good thing I don’t have one πŸ™‚

  • Rebecca
    November 18, 2011 at 1:27 pm

    Dragon’s hands down are my favorite. Ever since reading the pern series I can never get enough.

  • Vivian
    November 18, 2011 at 2:22 pm

    I love dragons! They are so versatile and you can ride them and fly around!

  • Meredith
    November 18, 2011 at 3:01 pm

    Dragons are awesome.

  • Samantha King
    November 18, 2011 at 5:08 pm

    I love pixies!!! Pixies are cute, beautiful and extremely mischievous. They help solve problems AND cause a little trouble. Pixie take the Magical Crown =)

  • Lisa Richards
    November 18, 2011 at 6:15 pm

    I love the fae. I haven’t read any with griffins in it but look forward to this one. Have added it to my wishlist.

  • jenmitch
    November 18, 2011 at 6:28 pm

    I hate picking favorites! Its very difficult.

    I think today I will go with mermaids. πŸ˜€

  • Audra Holtwick
    November 18, 2011 at 7:02 pm

    Unicorns!!!!
    audie(at)wickerness(dot)com

  • shipa
    November 18, 2011 at 10:17 pm

    Griffins from Dark Lord of Derkholm and Ents from Lord of the Rings.

  • Mindy
    November 18, 2011 at 11:55 pm

    An Alicorn aka pegacorn

  • erin
    November 19, 2011 at 7:14 am

    I’m torn between dragons, unicorns, and pegasi…but ultimately I’ve got to go with dragons. There are just so many wonderful dragon books I’ve loved–Pern, yes, but I’ve got to put in a plug for Dragon Slippers by Jessica George, Dealing with Dragons by Patricia Wrede, and Dragon’s Milk by Susan Fletcher.

  • Aislinn
    November 19, 2011 at 10:26 am

    Definitely selkies.

  • Scarlett
    November 19, 2011 at 10:49 am

    Great review!

    I’d have to say that dragons are pretty kick butt. Especially the ones that are both human and dragon. Not so much the ones that would eat me.

    Thanks for hosting the giveaway!

  • Kristy McRae
    November 19, 2011 at 11:13 am

    I love magical creatures in general, but unicorns have a special place in my heart! Thanks for the chance to win these books! πŸ™‚

  • Ann
    November 19, 2011 at 11:38 am

    Dragons, followed closely by silkies. Wonderful giveaway!

  • scribe kira
    November 19, 2011 at 11:56 am

    unicorns.

  • Elizabeth
    November 19, 2011 at 12:19 pm

    Griffin!!

  • Karissa
    November 19, 2011 at 7:25 pm

    Definitely dragons πŸ™‚ Thanks for the contest!

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  • Pernille
    August 4, 2013 at 3:41 pm

    I always had something for phoenixes. They are viewed in so many ways, but I like them best when they are completely made of fire. They are fierce and just simply cool and awesome! I love them! Maybe that’s why I have a phoenix tattoo πŸ™‚

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