Friday, April 10, 2015

The Silver Gryphon, by Mercedes Lackey

Reviewed by Holly White

The Silver Gryphon is the third in the Mage Wars trilogy by Mercedes Lackey.  This book takes up the tale of Skandrannon, the gryphon, and his friend, Amberdrake, the human, but by now they have grown older, and the story centers around their grown children.  Skandrannon’s sons, Tadrith and Keenath, each sought in different ways to find their place in the community; the sons of a military hero found it difficult in peacetime to be known as anything other than “Skandrannon’s sons.”  Keenath sought to distinguish himself by becoming something completely different than his father, a trondi’irn, or gryphon caretaker.  Tadrith became a Silver, one of the elite police/guardsmen that patrolled and protected the city.  Amberdrake’s daughter, Winterblade, worked side by side with Tadrith as his partner, also a Silver.  Amberdrake could not understand why she did not want to use her inherited (from both parents) gift of empathy to help heal others emotionally, while Winterblade, or Blade, as she was often called for short, was appalled at the idea of becoming so intimately connected to so many people.  She wanted only to be as different from both her parents as possible, and if she could, she wanted to be as far away from them as possible.  Tadrith, also, sought distance as a way to get out from under his father’s shadow; he longed for a place where he could be known and respected simply as Tadrith, not merely as the son of Skandrannon.

The time came when the two partners earned exactly that chance, their first away assignment as Silvers; they were to be sent alone to patrol the farthest outpost for three months on their own.  Finally, they could at last stand or fall on their own merits, and no one could accuse them of using their parents’ influence to succeed.  The well-trained gryphon/human team set off, well-prepared for any emergency, but expecting to find none.  With great relief, they left their worried parents behind, and fledged their wings (literally for Tadrith) for the first time in the adult world.  However, they never made it to their destination.  Their trip cut short, they were both injured, their way of communication with home cut off, and they had to find a way to survive alone and in unfamiliar terrain.  On top of that, they were being chased by mysterious, ruthless, and possibly magical beings.  These beings may have been human or beasts, may have been intelligent or instinctual, and may have been merely hungry or stalking them for some darker purpose.

Meanwhile, after a few days, the Silvers at their destination notified the folks back home that Tadrith and Blade had not made their rendezvous on time.  Amberdrake, Skandrannon, and their wives panicked, while the rest of the city treated it as something not to worry about, since the children were probably only delayed by some youthful fancy.  However, the frustrated parents found an unexpected ally in the mage Snowstar, who saw their disappearance as a possible threat not just to two young Silvers, but also possibly to the entire city, by the mere fact that no one had ever disappeared so completely before.  Whatever or whoever had done this, Snowstar posited, could be a threat to them all.  This support hastened rescue measures, but would they be in time?  After all, the children had already been missing for some time before they missed their rendezvous. 

Will the young Silvers be able to survive in a wilderness with unknown hazards, injuries, and with possibly intelligent, possibly magical, enemies stalking them?  Will they find a way through this to distinguish themselves from their famous parents, or will this end in disaster for one or both of them?  Will the parents see their way through their worry to be of some actual use on the rescue, or will their emotions get the better of them?  And what or who were these unknown enemies?  Would they figure out what they were and how to defeat them before they were defeated themselves?

To find out, read The Silver Gryphon by Mercedes Lackey.  I truly enjoyed this book.  It was well-written, well-plotted, and well-characterized.  There were a couple of incidents that were a bit too “lucky” for our heroes, but for the most part, they seemed to use their own wits and skills to get out of their problems.  Altogether, a good read, and it rounded out the series pretty well.  If you like fantasy, magic, and good vs. evil stories, I think you’ll love this.  Definitely one for the “Favorites” shelf. 

My next review will be the first stand-alone book about Alberich, the weaponsmaster from Karse, Exile's Honor, which tells about how a Valdemaran Herald came to be Chosen from among the Karsites, sworn enemies of Valdemar.

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