3 out of 4 stars
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The Gryphon by Paula Grover is a YA fantasy novel that explores the “gryphonic” lifestyle and political system of gryphons in Gryphonia, their capital. The name of their capital was silly to me at first, but I later grew to enjoy the simplicity of the name because this book provides many more important facts to remember.
All gryphons are female and Gryphonia is administered through a monarchy. One generation is always skipped when it comes to taking over the premiere queen role. The protagonist, Sunsky, is a princess who is soon wishing to take over her grandmother’s part as queen. Her opinicus mate (the male version of a gryphon), Dreamspinner, impregnates Sunsky soon before her transition to queen. On her flight home, Sunsky gets stuck in a storm and crashes down into the lower mountains, breaking her wing in the process. A black-winged stallion takes care of her while she recovers, and she allows him to mate with her out of gratitude. Upon her return, she learns that she is pregnant with Dreamspinner’s son in her womb, as well as an egg from Dreamspinner in her pouch. What surprised her was the presence of a second egg from the winged stallion. This creates a huge problem because this means the second egg contains a hippogryph, which is illegal to hatch within gryphonic society.
The breeding combinations get a bit confusing, but once submerged into the book, you will have all of this knowledge down. A gryphon and an opinicus can create four different kinds of offspring when mated together. They can give birth to gryphons and opinicus, and they can hatch keythongs (male) and kryphons (female), which are the wingless versions of their parents. There are also other matchups to create hippogryphs, winged horses, and even some species that are yet unknown to the gryphons.
What I liked most was that this book plays heavily on the political situation in gryphonic society. They think themselves above any of the wingless creatures and find hippogryphs and winged horses threatening to their power. I feel like this is an excellent book for a young mind to read when considering current events in our own world. This discrimination against the other species gets out of hand and it is up to a group of peaceful protestors to set things straight. It also displays how broken families can be civil with each other as long as they have peace in mind. Overall, I think this book would heavily inspire a young reader to realize that words can be more powerful than weapons.
The only thing I didn’t like about this novel was that there wasn’t a lot of detail in anything aside from the characters. I could tell you the color patterns of every character, but I couldn’t tell you what the capital looks like, how big it is, or how they managed to build a castle. Things like that really bothered me, since none of the species even have opposable thumbs. I was curious about how they were able to have lit candles or make a fire. What really stumped me was that there was a caretaker gryphon that handled the injured or expecting gryphons. They had a device that was able to tell the species and sex of their offspring shortly after conception. I have no idea what the device was or how a gryphon was able to use it. Many things like this pulled me out of the story, and even after finishing the book, I’m clueless. They didn’t appear to have any other sort of technology aside from this one device.
I rate this book 3 out of 4 stars. It was wonderfully edited as I did not find one grammatical mistake. I had to take one star away just from the sheer confusion I had at times due to the lack of detail. However, I promise you that because Grover put all of her energy into the characters, you will get emotionally attached to them quickly. There are many characters, but they are all introduced slowly, and I found myself caring for a handful of them by the end. I recommend this book to any young reader or any adult who would like to know about gryphonic society. It was a lot of fun learning about all of the different species and what mates are required to create them.
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