Land of the Burning Sands (The Griffin Mage: Book Two)

Land of the Burning Sands (The Griffin Mage: Book Two)
Rachel Neumeier, 2010

Premise: Sequel to Lord of the Changing Winds. Gereint Enseichen has been a magically bound servant in the Kingdom of Casmantium for a long time now. By treaty, griffins are taking the city his master lives in, and he's taking the opportunity to try to find freedom. But instead of escaping across the desert, Gereint is drawn back into the affairs of the kingdom as the griffins encroach further into man's holdings than agreed.

I had doubts about this sequel, when I saw that this book wasn't the further adventures of Kes, the main character from the first book. However, it turns out this is even better. This book delves much further into Casmantium, which was the 'enemy' kingdom for all of the first book. Their relationship with the griffins goes back further and has more old hatred on both sides.

The main characters, Gereint and Lady Tehre, are simply fantastic. They are both makers, people who have a sense for building things, who can make stone stronger, fabric waterproof, buildings steadier, etc., but they use a similar skill in completely different ways. Neumeier seems to have a flair for characters who are antisocial in a way that feels true to me. Tehre is an absent-minded academic type that I found utterly charming, but never cutesy. I really liked Gereint; I sympathized with his troubles and I was compelled by his struggles, but I instantly bonded with Tehre the same way I did with Kes, although they're utterly different characters.

Lord Bertaud is a minor character in this volume, and both Kairaithin and Kes are involved in the plot without being onstage much. It was interesting to get a clearer perspective on Casmantium and the cold mages there, people who are much more inherently opposed to the griffins than the natives of Feierabiand who populated the first book.

Incidentally, I learned to recognize all these long tongue-twisting names pretty easily, and it was simpler in this book with fewer griffin titles to deal with.

I'm certainly going to track down the third book, and I expect it to further illuminate the breath of this world.

4 Stars – A Very Good Book


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