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The White Gryphon


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Ten years have passed since the death of Urtho, the Mage of Silence. The survivors of the catastrophic battle have built the city of White Gryphon, hoping to found a permanent settlement in a new land. When a delegation from the Court of the Black Kings disputes their existence on the fringes of its territory, the mage-gryphon Skandranon and his friend Amberdrake find their diplomatic skills tested to the fullest as they become embroiled in a conspiracy of assassination that threatens a possible alliance. Set in the world of the popular Valdemar series, this latest novel by coauthors Lackey and Dixon (Chrome Circle, LJ 8/94) tells a tale of intrigue and mystery enhanced by vivid descriptions of an exotic, ritualistic culture. A good purchase for the legions fo Valdemar aficionados.

There is pleasure to be taken from novels of intrigue in which readers don't have to think at all, where their hands are held throughout the action and nothing is anything but what it seems. In Lackey and Dixon's second novel of the Gryphon trilogy (after The Black Gryphon), holdover heroes Skandranon, Amberdrake and Winterhart attempt to establish a political liaison with the Haighlei and their king, Shalaman, in order to to preserve the autonomy of the city of White Gryphon. But a series of grisly murders is perpetrated in ways such that Skan, a gryphon, becomes the chief suspect, thus jeopardizing their negotiations. Several twists and turns follow, but the characters are so pure of heart that they overlook the obvious, and too many improbabilities pile up. The authors maintain a frenetic narrative pace, despite the frequent bromidic asides (``often, one can be in love with who they think someone is''). But even as a page-turner, this novel is likely to leave readers suspecting that Lackey and Dixon are just biding their time, that maybe the third book of the trilogy will be something special. What they present here is a harmless confection, less fattening than an eclair and about as nutritious. (Apr.)

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