Gift of Griffins- V.M. Escalada
Release Date: August 7, 2018
Warning: Potential Spoilers Ahead!
Synopsis: Kerida Nast and her companions have succeeded in finding Jerek Brightwing, the new Luqs of Farama, and uniting him with a part of his Battle Wings, but not all their problems have been solved. Farama is still in the hands of the Halian invaders and their Shekayrin, and it's going to take magical as well as military strength to overcome them.
Unexpected help comes from Bakura, the Princess Imperial of the Halians, whose Gifts have been suppressed. As the Voice of her brother the Sky Emperor she has some political power over the Halian military, and she will use it to aid the Faramans, if Kerida can free her from what she sees as a prison. But whether Kerida can help the princess remains to be seen. If she succeeds, Bakura may prove their salvation. But should Kerida fail, all may be lost....
In Gift of Griffins V. M. Escalada continues to show her talent in world building, weaving together well crafted characters and a beautifully textured, intricate, magically real world. You feel the wind in your face and the ground beneath your feet. Her characters continue to be entirely believable- imperfect people in a far from perfect world, learning what they are capable of in overwhelming circumstances. Kerida Nast and the Princess Imperial Bakura are especially well-written- watching them grow into strong, confident women who are willing to stand up to adversity even when they are terrified made it easy to forget how young they are in pure years. They have had to grow up quickly and are the equal to any of the more experienced adults by the end of the book.
Unlike many second books in a series, Griffins didn't disappoint after Escalada's amazing first book, Halls of Law. The emphasis has shifted from mere personal survival to the overthrowing of the Shekayrin determined to control the people, but the story is still told through the personal experiences of a few people. We also got to see a lot more of the griffins here than in Halls, which was a lot of fun. I thought Escalada did a great job giving us a griffin's point of view of things, and having the griffins and their way of thinking and prioritizing being very different from that of humans. I also appreciated how nuanced the motivations among the humans themselves were- we don't get a generalized 'good' versus 'evil', but layers of loyalty and betrayal that will keep the reader guessing until the very end.
Gift of Griffins is a must read for fantasy lovers looking for a new series to enjoy. You may first be drawn to Griffins because of the beautiful cover art, but you'll stay immersed in this wonderful fantasy world thanks to Escalada's beautiful writing style and amazing characters. I hope to see many more books to come in this series!
I would recommend starting with Halls of Law, since Gift of Griffins is very much a sequel instead of a stand alone book.