It has been ten years since the magical Cataclysm, which destroyed the twin strongholds of the two world's most powerful Mages, killing Urtho, creator of the gryphons, and sending his forces into exile. Now Urthro's peoples--human and non-human alike live in a terraced city carved into the face of a gleaming white cliff on the edge of the Western Ocean. Secure at least, ...until the fleet of the mysterious Black Kings appears in their harbor, bringing envoys who inform the residents of White Gryphon that their newfound home lies on the northern perimeter of lands claimed by this powerful kingdom. Desperate not to lose their hard won home, Skandranon, along with his longtime friend Amberdrake--agree to accompany the envoys back to the Court of the Black Kings, hoping to negotiate an alliance. ...When a high ranking noble who opposes this alliance is found murdered--Skandranon and Amberdrake realize that they are up against unknown enemies who will stop at nothing, even the use of diabolical Blood Magic, to destroy White Gryphon.
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.
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