The Gryphon’s Lair
The Gryphon’s Lair
I pull my knees in. “Rhydd is the diplomat. He knows how to dig around a problem to unearth it. I only know how to attack it straight on, and sometimes, that means being too blunt.”
I shift, tucking my legs under me. “Earlier, Alianor said that her father wants her to befriend me and Rhydd because it helps her clan. Political advantage. She said she’d rather I hear that from her than have someone whisper it in my ear.”
A sequel to A Royal Guide to Monster Slaying, Princess Rowen’s adventures as the royal monster hunter continue. Mere months have passed since her last expedition and Rowen must, once again, venture from the castle to take a troublesome baby Gryphon to its kin in the mountains. As the plot-driven narrative unfolds, so, too, does a deeper story that contemplates the struggles of growing up. The pace of the novel is fast; Rowen is thrown from one chaotic and dangerous situation to another. It is only through the support and cooperation of her fellow travellers that she is able to meet the demands of her quest, learning, in the meantime, that leadership requires listening to those around you.
Armstrong continues to prioritize themes of animal welfare and stewardship in this novel. No matter what her monster interactions look like – friendly or frightening – Rowen always exhibits a sense of responsibility for the monsters’ welfare. Similar to the first book, the novel seems too overt in its lessons, constructing the young characters as unrealistically mature and worldly. Rowen continues to be a thoughtful character who can acknowledge her mistakes and ask for help.
As The Gryphon’s Lair stands on its own, readers can jump into this novel without reading its predecessor. Rowen continues to grow as an individual, but many of the supporting characters show more limited development. The author turns her attention to the creation in episodic adventures that essentially lie on top of one another. Similar to A Royal Guide to Monster Slaying, The Gryphon’s Lair is an entertaining novel that speaks to today’s awareness of social difference and ecological protection. Although it misses being a more profound epic fantasy by offering richer and more elaborate setting depictions and world-building, The Gryphon’s Lair is an enjoyable read and will entertain middle grade fantasy buffs seeking a straightforward adventure with thoughtful characters.
Dr. Christina Neigel is an Associate Professor at the University of the Fraser Valley in Abbotsford, British Columbia.