Book Review: The White Gryphon by Mercedes Lackey

Posted November 24, 2021 by Kathy Davie in Book Reviews / 0 Comments

Book Review: The White Gryphon by Mercedes Lackey

I received this book for free from my own shelves in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

The White Gryphon by Mercedes Lackey
Genres: Fantasy
Published by DAW on March 1, 1996
Pages: 400
Format: eBook
Source: my own shelves

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Also by this author: Mercedes Lackey & Rosemary Edghill, Victories, Blood Red, The House of the Four Winds, Closer to Home, Changing the World: All-New Tales of Valdemar, Under the Vale and Other Tales of Valdemar, Winter Moon, Moving Targets and Other Tales of Valdemar, Elementary: All-New Tales of the Elemental Masters, No True Way: All-New Tales of Valdemar, From a High Tower, Hunter, Closer to the Heart, Silence, A Study in Sable, Elite, Closer to the Chest, Tempest: All-New Tales of Valdemar, A Scandal in Battersea, The Hills Have Spies, The Bartered Brides, Dragon's Teeth, Eye Spy, Breaking Silence, Pathways, The Case of the Spellbound Child, Jolene, Passages, Magic's Pawn, Magic's Promise, The Serpent's Shadow, The Oathbound, The Silver Gryphon, Beyond, Spy, Spy Again, Oathbreakers, The Lark and the Wren, The Gates of Sleep, Phoenix and Ashes, The Wizard of London, The Robin and the Kestrel, Oathblood, Exile's Honor, The Silver Bullets of Annie Oakley, Owlflight, Exile’s Valor, Sword of Ice and Other Tales of Valdemar

Second in the Mage Wars subseries and taking place in BF 990 (Before Founding) in the Valdemar universe, ten years after The Black Gryphon, Mage Wars 1. It revolves around Skandranon and Amberdrake as envoys to the Haighlei.

If you’re interested, there is a chronological listing of the Valdemar books on my website.

My Take

I love that the magical creatures and people of White Gryphon planned their city against an unknown future. How very practical!

I gotta wonder if the kestra’chern who went through the Gate in The Black Gryphon with human noncombatants OR if the other Kaled’a’in Clans who split off to different refuges became the Shin’a’in. It’s certain, at least, that all those who fled the plain were scattered far and wide. Lackey does note that Kaled’a’in scouts use bondbirds who can Mindspeak with their human companions. So maybe they evolved into the Hawkbrothers? The k’Leshya Clan is happy that they might have found a market for their horses . . . so may be they became the Shin’a’in. I have got to know!

Talk about confusing . . . Silver Veil tells Drake and Winterhart that the Haighlei abhor and adore change. Oy, how do you work with that? And everything about Skan and Drake is change.

“Even murder has a certain protocol . . .”

Change that would be anathema is social class. You will do what your parents do. You may not rise above it. Even a kestra’chern can’t serve above or below an authorized rank. Even how much money you have is proscribed. Magic is scary and strictly controlled.

That’s gotta be sweet for Winterhart, being seen as a Power. It’s only part of the king’s interest.

I do love Skan. He’s realistic about what he’s capable of. He gets the jokes about his vanity . . . and has his own too-funny responses to them. He’s also compassionate and understanding as to why he needs to be the leader of the White Gryphons.

“We . . . count what is in someone’s heart far more important that what caste one is born into.”

Lackey uses third person global subjective point-of-view from the perspectives of so many characters, so we know how a number of individuals perceive, feel, think, and experience. There are so many conflicts in The Silver Gryphon: banishment, change, and this unexpected courtship. Wait’ll you get to the murders!

It’s a clever bit of planning and twisting and betrayal that kept me reading all night. And that ending . . . oh yeah!

The Story

Magic cannot be relied upon any more, and the peoples of White Gryphon have managed to build their city in spite of that handicap. Proud of their achievements, they are stunned when the Haighlei demand they leave their territory.

An embassy is hastily assembled to negotiate an alliance with the Haighlei, a people resistant to change with a hatred and fear of magic. There are many who oppose the idea of a treaty with such a strange culture of magical creatures.

It’s an opportunity for the king’s enemies to manipulate a betrayal of these intruders with murders.

The Characters

Skandranon “Skan” Rashkae is now the White Gryphon, for he no longer has to hide behind the black dye as they are no longer at war. Zhaneel, a gryfalcon, is Skan’s mate. Kechara is their daughter and considered a misborn like her mother, with a very long-range Mindspeaking ability. Tadrith and Keenath are their twin sons. Cafri, a hertasi, is Kechara’s best friend, playmate, and caretaker. The hertasi, Jewel and Corvi, will join Skan and his family on their journey to Khimbata. Healer Tamsin and his lover/co-worker, Lady Cinnabar, Skan’s assigned healers, are a lifebonded pair. “Hawkwind” will become Skan’s bodyguard.

White Gryphon is . . .
. . . the city of light, carved as it is from the white cliffs above the Western Sea. General Judeth, a commander of the Fifth, one of Urtho’s companies, and a stonemason’s daughter, insisted on the city being built on terraces carved out of the cliff face. Aubri (a gryphon), Tylar (a human), Rethan, and Vetch are members of the Silvers, the city’s policing organization, formed from the remnants of the fighters and soldiers. Snowstar, a Kaled’a’in mage who had been trusted by Urtho, is on the council.

Chief Kestra’chern Amberdrake “Drake” is handling most of the common concerns for the city; he had been Skan’s Trondi’irn and his best friend. Winterhart is his mate, and they have a two-year-old, Windsong. Gesten is Drake’s snarky companion hertasi and the leader of all the hertasi.

Lionwind is the leader of the k’Leshya Clan, a.k.a. the Spirit Clan, of the Kaled’a’in who adopted Amberdrake. They followed Drake and Skan in their escape in The Black Gryphon. Summerhawk is a Kaled’a’in Trondi’irn and a strong Mindspeaker. Jessamine is a a highly qualified kesta’chern.

Handanelith is pretending to be a kestra’chern, yet he considers women tainted. His patients include Telica, Danielle, Suriya, Gaerazena, Bethtia, and Yonisse.

The Haighlei Emperors are . . .

. . . known as the Black Kings, of a land in the farthest south. Khimbata is the capital city. Shalaman is their king. The Silver Veil, a.k.a. Ke Arigat Osorna, is the king’s Royal Companion . . . and Drake’s former kestra’chern teacher. The king’s other advisors include Truthsayer Leyuet and Speaker to the Gods Palisar. It is only during an Eclipse Ceremony that anything may change. Spears of the Law are a kind of Imperial Bodyguard, which appears to include two sons of King Sulemeth, the Emperor of Ghandai.

Makke is an old, stooped human assigned to clean and do laundry for Skan and his family. Kanshin is a master thief, who had apprenticed with Jacony. Lakshe and Poldarn were other master thieves. Noyoki is a mage who works blood magic. Lady Fanshane is a vulture. Lady Sherisse had been driven mad. Lady Linnay is another victim.

Gryphons, tervardi, hertasi, and kyree are the nonhumans. Kestra’chern are trained therapists of the body and the mind. Kaled’a’in Clan k’Leshya are the bulk of the humans. A Trondi’irn is a healer and trainer assigned to oversee gryphons. There is a Kmbata Empire. The Kaled’a’in were originally nomads from the land of Ka’venusho.

Urtho and Kiam ir Ma’ar were the two warring wizards whose deaths created the Cataclysm, which destroyed their world as they knew it (The Black Gryphon). Perchi are prostitutes. The Haighlei Lion Lilies are a symbol of courtship. Loriganalea is considered a sacred bond, a marriage made by the gods.

The Cover and Title

The cover is orange and white. The orange of the sky gradating down to pink then purple as a backdrop of the fanciful city skyline of Khimbata with its multicolored turrets and towers. In the middle ground is Skandranon, the White Gryphon flying with Amberdrake, his long black hair flying in the wind, wearing a black and white tufted robe open over his muscled chest and lime green pants. At the top are the authors’ names with the title taking up two lines below it. Both are in white. Underneath that is the series info in a deep purple.

The title encompasses Skandranon and the newly built city of The White Gryphon.

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