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3 of 5 people found the following review helpful
on 13 June 2003
One of her best....the setting a Wizards Uni... follow her motley crew of students as they face pirates, mini assassins
and an enchanted coat stand .....
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1 of 6 people found the following review helpful
on 27 December 2000
I was hurt and puzzled when I read this book. I could put up with the slightly-less-than-sparkling Deep Secret. I could even understand the sudden collapse she seemed to have in The Dark Lord of Derkholm. But that she should be blind to the awfulness of Dark Lord and write a sequel that was even worse - ! What has happened to my favourite author? Is she losing it? I know she is famed for making every book different, but how could the author of the truly brilliant Fire and Hemlock (for example) come out with this drivel?The Dark Lord of Derkholm at least had a worthwhile premise. This has none, or if it did then it got buried in the chaotic rubble of broken plot that strews every page of this book. Stories are started, rushed through in a couple of pages and bundled hurriedly to one side to make way for the next thing. No single character is given enough attention for us to really get to know them. There's a scene near the end where two characters are cured of jinxes through basically psychological means. That is, they tell you what aspect of their backgrounds caused the jinxes, say, "Is that all? Now I recognise that, I'm free!" And they are. Okay, that's basically how things work in real life. But in real life it doesn't happen in the course of a quick chat. It takes time and effort. Nowhere did I get a sense that either of these characters had to struggle for their redemption. Nowhere did I see them growing towards it. I wasn't given enough time in either of their minds to get to know them well enough.My favourite section, if it deserves that name, is where the six friends who are the main characters each write a brilliant essay on "What is wizards' magic?" and all get low marks because their opinions go against the received wisdom of their University. I had real hope at this point that the book would turn into a worthwhile analysis of the University's failings, with assassins and griffins on the side - but it didn't. The issue was just swept to one side like everything else, leaving a big vacuum (and I'm not talking about the atmosphere on the Moon) centre stage. I felt as if the author wasn't up to handling or sustaining any kind of complicated argument in this book - which is a real shame coming from someone who has written in the past with such brilliant, diamond-edged subtlety. Even the characters' motivations were overly simplistic. In fact, they all behaved like children, whereas most of her books are peopled with children who behave like adults.I challenge anyone who feels like it to write a novel based on one (maximum two) of the following elements from Year of the Griffin: The Book of Truth, the incomentence of the University staff, the dwarfs' revolution, Jessak and Callette, Claudia and her jinx, Flury, Corkoran's moon shot. None of them get the attention they deserve in this book. Some of them get almost none. Singly they might each sustain a novel, but together they are wasted. Someone follow Ted Mallory's example in Deep Secret, because these ideas are good cogs in a botched machine if ever there were any.
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0 of 3 people found the following review helpful
on 10 April 2001
I enjoyed this book because I enjoyed Dark Lord of Derkholm, but it's nowhere near DWJ's best. It does have its moments, and there are some funny bits, so it's worth a read. DWJ on a bad day is better than many authors on a good day!
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0 of 4 people found the following review helpful
on 19 November 2000
I love Jones' work. She is the pre-eminent modern fantasist for every age group. I wouldn't have thought she was capable of a duff book, but this is a real disappointment. There is no tension to the plot, very few of the characters come alive (Elda and Flury, the Griffins, are the exception), all the main characters get mini adventures in sequence and too many people fall in love at first sight. The only parts that really amused were the descriptions of dumbed down University education. If you want to try Jones all her other books are wonderful but, unless you are a completist, give this one a miss.
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