Mercedes Lackey is a full-time writer and has published numerous novels and works of short fiction, including the best-selling Heralds Of Valdemar series. She is also a professional lyricist and a licensed wild bird rehabilitator. She lives in Oklahoma with her husband, artist Larry Dixon, and their flock of parrots.
As the tyrant-sorcerer Kiyamvir Ma'ar's forces sweep across the land in a relentless war of conquest, one man--Urtho, the Mage of Silence--arises as the leader of the opposition. Set a thousand years before the founding of Valdemar and the rise of the Herald Mages, the latest novel by Lackey and Dixon relates the story of the legendary black gryphon Skandranon Rashkae, his healer-companion Amberdrake, and the war that changed the face of a world forever. Featuring some of the authors' most endearing protagonists yet, this first in a projected dualogy is recommended for most fantasy collections.
Setting a story in prehistory suggests a enormous potential, a feeling that all is new and possible. Lackey's latest created world (illustrated by husband Dixon) predates the setting of her Valdemar series by a millennium but never quite lives up to its expanded possibilities. The gryphon of the title is the charismatic Skandranon, leader of the gryphons, a race of birds just evolving into awareness. After establishing this intriguing premise, however, the tale soon bogs down in fantasy cliches as the main characters fight a standard war against the forces of evil. Although some of the novel's elements, like Skandranon's human friend Amberdrake, suggest a possible complexity, the plot is predictable and the overwritten battle scenes are difficult to follow. In the end, the evil Mage of Black Fire is destroyed, nearly everyone else lives and the chaotic magic of prehistory is tamed. (Jan.)