Wednesday, July 26, 2023

Gryphon in Light (Kelvren's Saga #1), by Mercedes Lackey & Larry Dixon

DAW, ISBN 9780756414481, July 2023

It's some years after the Heralds of Valdemar trilogy, and major events (Winds of Fate trilogy; Mage Storms trilogy) have wrought major changes in Valdemar. These changes include, but are not limited to, the return of magical, intelligent creatures long absent, and long suspected to be entirely mythical.

These include, most notably for this book, gryphons. And specifically, Kelvren, a wingleader of the Silver Gryphons, part of the k'Valdemar Vale, which is allied with but not part of Valdemar. After intervening to help Valdemaran troops in a battle against merchants motivated solely by greed to secede from Valdemar and stop paying taxes (it's more complicated, of course, but that's the basis of it), Kelvren is very badly wounded. Since this is a Valdemaran troop far from k'Valdemar, and somewhat undersupplied because of the many challenges the kingdom is facing, there's only a "herb and knife" Healer, who does his best, but is not trained at all in caring for gryphons. Kelvren, like his Valdemaran tentmate, Hallock Stavern, Second of the Sixteenth, is unlikely to survive.

But Kelvren does have healing magic, not enough to heal himself adequately, but enough, if he gives it all, to heal Hallock. So he does, and therein, in many ways, lies the start of his problems.

An appropriately Gifted person, more knowledgeable about gryphons, does arrive in time--Treyvan, one of the two gryphons acting as ambassadors to the royal court at Haven. He gets Kelvren flying and accessing magic again, albeit at risk of bursting into flame if he's not careful. He returns to k'Valdemar, undergoes an ordeal he's only barely willing to tolerate, and restrictions he isn't willing to tolerate for long. He has to learn a completely new way of thinking and behaving.

So does the Mage, Firesong, who's helping him, though Firesong is slower to realize it. Though Firesong does come up with the excellent idea of getting Kelvren out of k'Valdemar and the restrictions he has to deal with, by setting out to deal with a problem left over from the Mage Wars, near Lake Evendim.

In k'Valdemar and on the expedition, we meet other magical creatures--the bondbirds (adapted from raptors, and bonded with the Hawkbrothers), the kyree (who might be related to wolves), the tervardi, human-sized, flightless beings adapted from songbirds, and others.

Also, more gryphons arrive, from Iftel. Heavy wing gryphons. Sort of like heavy cavalry rather than the Silver Gryphons' light cavalry, except that's wildly inadequate. Oh, and they have a message from two of the gods.

The fate of the world is at stake, and all stops are to be pulled out in dealing with it. And Kelvren is the gods' choice to lead the expedition.

This is the first of a trilogy, and while I found the introduction to the new state of the world of Valdemar, and the new peoples in that world, and especially the characters completely enthralling, this is part one of three, and at the end, they're making new discoveries of just how complicated this will be and just how much they don't yet know what's going on.

Did I mention the boy whose facial disfigurement has made him an outcast in Valdemar, who wants to learn to care for gryphons? Did I mention the Companion who comes to k'Valdemar to make an unusual choice of a new Herald?

Did I mention the Firecat?

No? I didn't mention any of those? Along with Kelvren and the very difficult Firesong and his lover, Silverfox, and Kelvren's trondi'irn Nightwind, and Ayshen, Silverfox's hertasi (lizard-adapted) assistant, they're among the excellent reasons for digging into this book and getting acquainted.

Worldbuilding and character development are a big part of the joy of reading for me, as long as it's going some place, and this is.

It's a lot of fun.

I received a free electronic galley from the publisher via NetGalley.

No comments:

Post a Comment