Lord of the Changing Winds (Griffin Mage #1)
by Rachel Neumeier

Orbit Books (June 2010) | Paperback: 367 pages | Fantasy

Lord of the Changing Winds wasn’t what I expected it to be; that’s not saying it was a bad novel, because it wasn’t. The concept was interesting, and the whole mythology of the griffins was out of this world (pardon the pun!) .

Griffins are not creatures of the earth like humans and their mages, they’re creatures of fire and air and so don’t think or act like humans. They’re hounded out of their deserts and have to make their homes on the outskirts of a small village called Minas Ford out of necessity. They bring the desert sands with them and the villagers aren’t happy with their new neighbours.

Kes is a seemingly meek, ordinary girl, she doesn’t have an affinity with horses like her sister, she doesn’t like to socialise, and she finds it hard to talk to people. One of the reasons she likes their hired hand, Jos, is because he never expects her to talk when there’s no need.

She often spends time on her own collecting herbs in the hills. This is where she first saw the griffins fly over, and unlike others of her village she found them beautiful.

The sole remaining griffin mage, Kairaithin, sees untapped power in her, and before the humans discover her earth magic he opens her up to fire and air, creating the perfect vessel to heal his people. Doing this makes her less human as she loses the connection with the earth and starts to feel the fire and air in her veins instead.

He is the only griffin to appear in human form, though even with a human body he doesn’t look or act human. Kes certainly isn’t fooled by his human skin and knows exactly what he is.

I love how the griffins aren’t humanised. Their worries and concerns are different to that of humans and it made a great contrast when they do interact with the them.

Kes’ disinterest with the human way of life is almost a premonition of what was to come once she became a healer for the griffins. Her way of thinking and talking is closer to them than the humans she grew up with, which could be one reason why the transition from human to a healer of fire and air was easier for her.

She’s portrayed as this meek and mild child, and although her demure is quiet and unsure, I don’t think this is true of her. She has the strength to go with the griffins and heal their king when she didn’t even believe herself to be a true healer, let alone a healer of griffins. She stood up to Kairaithin when she found he’d bound her to him and she couldn’t return home. She talked to the king of the opposing army who had pushed the griffins from their land, and found out the reason he’d done so, and she talked to her own king on behalf of the griffins.

She’s a character with many layers, but like the griffins can’t be looked on as entirely human, once you look at her as something other than human she starts to make more sense.

Jos seems to be the only human to understand her, before she left with the griffins, and even afterwards. Their relationship is an interesting one, and not dwelled upon in either. Jos saves Kes from the enemy when even the griffins can’t help, and although he doesn’t like how the magic of the griffins is consuming her he accepts her choices.

The king of Feierabiand, Iaor and his friend and advisor Bertaud were two other brilliant characters. They were much more human and added a new dimension to the novel. I found myself worrying that they would make the wrong choices or that they would discriminate and be cruel and unkind, and because I liked them so much, I didn’t want them to be.

VERDICT:

All the characters are interesting, if not all likeable, and the mythology had me wanting to learn more. At the same time I also felt a little disconnected from the world; almost like it was a dream or I was viewing it under water. I think the reason for this is because it’s mainly narrated by Kes who from the start has trouble communicating, and Kairaithin doesn’t have human emotions. I couldn’t connect to them on a human level. King Iaor and Bertaund were like a spark of light or a breath of fresh air in a book otherwise narrated by those who have very little human connections. On one hand, I loved that the griffins weren’t humanised, and it made the world what it is, but on the other hand it made me feel a little disconnected from it.

Lord of the Changing Winds is different to anything I’ve read before. It made me think on a new level and this might have took away some of the joy in just reading for the pure joy of reading, but it got my brain thinking and it took me to a place I’ve never been before. Anyone looking for a new fantasy world to immerse themselves in should give this a go.

RATING

RACHEL NEUMEIER
Website | Goodreads

BOOKS IN SERIES ORDER

  1. Lord of the Changing Winds
  2. Land of the Burning Sands
  3. Lord of the Broken Earth

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Andrea

Andrea lives in Staffordshire in the UK and is Head Minion to two ferrets, five African land snails, and secondary minion to a pride of cats and an insane dog. [Andrea no longer reviews for the site.]

3 Comments


Lisa @ Read.Breathe.Relax. June 10, 2011 at 5:59 pm

I reviewed this book awhile ago. I came away with many of the same thoughts you had. I thought the story was super slow, and I felt a little disconnected from the world.

I loved the hinted romance- but I'm not sure I'll be picking up the sequel.

Reply

csilibrarian June 10, 2011 at 9:38 pm

I wasn't able to finish this one, but I had a lot of the same reactions you had to the first half. The idea of griffins as otherworldly was clever and neat, but it made it difficult to connect to them.

In terms of other griffin books, I really love the first two books in K. J. Kaylor's Fallen Moon trilogy. I need to get around to the third one soon.

Reply

Andrea June 11, 2011 at 7:24 pm

it had all the elements of a great book, which is a shame because i wanted to love it, and the hinted romance had me hunting out the sequel and then feeling disappointed that it's about different characters.

i'm willing to give it a try though..if the characters are more like the king and friend then it'll be more exciting!

i've not heard of K.J. Kaylor's books, i'm going to look them up now!

Reply

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