Tag Archives: gryphons

A Perjury of Owls (Fantasy & Forensics #4)

Title: A Perjury of Owls

Author: Michael Angel

Series: Fantasy & Forensics #4

Dayna has two lives that have both become full-time jobs. Back in LA, she’s worried about her friend Shelly, who disappeared under mysterious circumstances. And that one might be Dayna’s fault, because Shelly had gotten caught up in Dayna’s last adventure. On the Andeluvian side, she’s about to be made a Dame—landed nobility. Except the owls are still protesting anything involving her and refusing to release the finances, the nobles bicker like spoiled children, and the king always has one more job to set in front of her . . .

This is another strong story. It’s interesting to see a lot of the fallout that’s been building up for several books now, both good and bad. Dayna’s certainly impressed the king, but he’s not above using her in his various political machinations.

I also liked having a more “normal” case at the beginning. We finally get to see Dayna in more of her usual job, her usual setting, where magic and interesting creatures aren’t complicating things. And, of course, this comes with more usual complications, like jealousy at her boyfriend’s new work partner.

On the Andeluvian side, some of the hints from previous books soon turn into the main case—what exactly happened with the Albess, and why can’t anyone get a straight answer out of the owls?

I liked the resolution with Shelly, too. That scene in Dayna’s apartment was too funny, and it shows Dayna has important allies on both worlds.

Overall if you’ve enjoyed the series thus far, this is yet another good read. I rate this book Highly Recommended.

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Grand Theft Griffin (Fantasy & Forensics #3)

Title: Grand Theft Griffin

Author: Michael Angel

Series: Fantasy & Forensics #3

Dayna usually works murders, not theft. But this case has too many touches of oddity about, which has led to her department recommending her for the case. And it doesn’t take long for her to figure out they’re right—THIS theft was perpetrated by a griffin. Which means she needs to head back to Andeluvia to work the case. But Dayna knows less about griffins than she thinks, and she may not like the answers her investigation uncovers . . .

I received this book for free in exchange for an honest review.

I think this is my favorite of the series so far. Not only for the griffins (because I love griffins and there aren’t enough of them in fantasy), but also for the way this is set up. We get a much deeper dive into the nuances of griffin society, and we also get to meet a few of Shaw’s offspring along the way.

Holly is fascinating. As one of Shaw’s True Born, she’s much like her sire in the some respects—fast, strong, brave, smart. And willing to go against the grain, as she and her brothers have created a new martial art for themselves that makes them far more effective fighting creatures like wyverns. Even if that does pit them against the griffin Elders, who dislike change intensely. It’s also interesting to note that this dislike of change extends to their speech patterns—Shaw is apparently NOT a template for his kind, and many of the younger griffins speak in much more familiar words.

I liked that the case shows Dayna messing up. And boy, does that have consequences. I would argue even her final reveal was a mistake, because the way it happened left itself open to much more than she intended. Dayna’s learning the hard way that mouthing off in the moment, giving in to her frustrations, is burning a lot of bridges. And her blunders have great impact on the beings around her. Lying and bluffing have their own costs, and although honor as strict as Shaw’s would have put a few more wrinkles in things, I think she probably could’ve pulled off the case while telling the truth.

I also love that Alanzo tells her off for trying to pull the stupid little “don’t be friends with someone who’s friends with someone I don’t like” game. He’s smart enough to see what she’s doing, call her out on it, and try to give her the context to see the people she’s demonizing as people. I’m still not sure if I’m sold on them as a couple, but he really impressed me there. And Dayna needs people who can tell her to her face she’s wrong. Galen, Shaw, and Liam respect her too much to voice that level of disagreement.

Overall this is a bittersweet book. Dayna solves the case, but it’s hard to say if justice was served. And it looks like she’s not going to be interacting nearly as closely with the griffins in the future than she might with the fayleene, thanks to how she ended her visit. I rate this book Highly Recommended.

The Deer Prince’s Murder (Fantasy & Forensics #2)

Title: The Deer Prince’s Murder

Author: Michael Angel

Series: Fantasy & Forensics #2

Liam has been summoned home. The Protector of the Forest has died, and the fayleene are gathering to recognize a new leader. But Liam is quickly drawn into a much bigger issue. A dragon is encroaching on the fayleene lands, and Liam is tasked with ending the threat by any means possible . . .

As expected from the title, this book focuses on Liam. We got the gist of his unfortunate relationship with his people in Centaur of the Crime, but this is the first time we get to look more in-depth at the fayleene.

I liked the irony of the fayleene being much more vicious and petty than their “magical deer” species would suggest. But only one particular fayleene really has it out for Liam specifically. The rest of them are happy to use him if it means saving themselves.

And along those lines, although there is certainly a mystery, much of the plot plays out more like a fantasy adventure. A very dangerous dragon has it out for the fayleene, and Liam is tasked with stopping it. But an invincible dragon is a mystery in and of itself—what weakness can they use to confront it?

Although my favorite part is probably the pooka playing the Illuminati for Bob McClatchy. (This will not end well, for sure. But it was really funny all the same.)

Overall this was a lot of fun. I liked the more we got to see of Liam, and how some of his confidence issues resolved. There’s also plenty of hints that this is only part of a much larger scheme and we’re probably building up to a massive conflict in the moderately-far future. I rate this book Highly Recommended.

Forensics and Dragon Fire (Fantasy & Forensics #1.5)

Title: Forensics and Dragon Fire

Author: Michael Angel

Series: Fantasy & Forensics #1.5

Dayna’s been put on probation for ditching her security detail on her previous adventure. Now she’s got to prove to an overeager psychiatrist that she’s fit for duty, in addition to perils of the more magical sort. Because Andeluvia needs her again, this time to investigate an “accidental” death that’s so convenient some people suspect there might be more to the story.

This book has more focus on the mystery, although there’s still some movement on the personal front, as Dayna’s confronting her anger management issues. (And Galen’s take on the whole rubber band “Snap out of it” bracelet is hilarious.)

Despite some similarities to the previous case in terms of diagnosing the corpse and site of death, there’s plenty of new material too. For one, Dayna’s not lacking for suspects. Pretty much everyone who worked with the deceased hated him for one reason or another, so it’s more a matter of narrowing down who was MOST likely.

We also get a closer look at the dragons, which is something I had been curious about since last book. I like how disdainful Shaw is of the whole business. He’s all for the superiority of griffins.

And I like at the end how Dayna has to confront what justice actually is, once she knows the truth.

Overall this is a much faster read than the first book (I didn’t check if it was shorter but it feels shorter). It’s still a good time. I rate this book Recommended.

Centaur of the Crime (Fantasy & Forensics #1)

Title: Centaur of the Crime

Author: Michael Angel

Series: Fantasy & Forensics #1

Dayna is a crime scene analyst in Los Angeles. When an unidentified body promises a new case, she sets to work as usual. But nothing about this is going according to her expectations. Transported to another world, where she joins forces with a griffin, a centaur, and a talking deer, she’s under a tight deadline to solve the mystery of a murdered monarch before a war breaks out. And before the killer manages to add her to the list of victims . . .

This was so much fun. The beginning sets things up like a typical crime scene drama, with the personalities of Dayna and several of the cops coming through loud and clear. We have a mysterious dead man—and someone seems to object to the investigation.

And then the magic hits, and Dayna is suddenly in another world, summoned by a centaur wizard.

I loved the characters. Dayna is tough and competent, and trying hard to do what she does best in a place where she doesn’t know any of the rules. Investigating a dead king is tough when most of the suspects are nobility that can’t be offended (read: questioned), so she’s stuck looking at the evidence and trying to draw conclusions from there. So this is less about the “beat cop” side of crime scene investigations, and much more about the forensics.

Then there’s Galen, the formal centaur wizard, who is in the uncomfortable position of being one of the only centaurs in human lands while the centaurs are gearing up for war against them. Or Shaw, the even-more-formal griffin, whose honor is as great as his thirst for battle. Even if he isn’t as young as he used to be. Or Prince Liam, the fayleene who gets volunteered because he’s unlucky.

Everyone’s bursting with personality, but also complexity. Many crime novels don’t focus much on character depth, but this one puts equal weight on the characters and the crime.

So if you’re looking for a fun fantasy/mystery, this should definitely be on the list of books to check out. I rate this book Highly Recommended.

Squire (Protector of the Small #3)

Title: Squire

Author: Tamora Pierce

Series: Protector of the Small #3

Kel has become a squire, but she has a problem: no knight will have her. But the waiting comes to an end with an unexpected opportunity. No less than Sir Raoul claims her. She’ll get to travel with the King’s Own as they deal with natural disasters, bandits, and possible war. And at the end of four years, the Chamber of Ordeals beckons. . .

This is my favorite Kel book. I’ve liked Raoul since the Alanna books, and this gives a much better look at him. I like the detail that he won’t drink because he implies he’s been an alcoholic in the past (which makes this book one of the ONLY fantasies I’ve read with an alcoholic who isn’t actively drinking). He’s big and strong and kind, but also the sort to go headlong into whatever disaster has cropped up. He’s a great mentor for Kel in so many ways, and her position at his side throws her immediately into the thick of things.

It’s also interesting that her best friend Neal ends up with Alanna. Neal, as a Gifted healer, is a better fit for Alanna anyway, but that doesn’t stop Kel from struggling with the death of her old dream. I do really like that Kel comes to terms with this well enough to recognize that she and Neal got the best possible mentors for who they are, even if it’s not what they thought they wanted.

I’m also fond of how Joren’s bullying ultimately worked out. He’s been behaving a lot differently to Kel’s face, although he still seems up to his usual tricks behind her back. But to become a knight means more than just getting through eight years of training. I like that in this world being a knight actually means something more than being nobility who could afford the training.

The griffin is interesting, as Kel gains another companion (more like pet) she didn’t choose, who comes with major problems. In this case, it’s that she can’t foist his care off on anyone else, so she’s stuck trying to do her duties and care for a very demanding baby.

Kel’s fumbling around with relationships here, although she doesn’t go beyond a few stolen kisses with Cleon (who, by the by, is betrothed already to someone else, but thinks it’s fine to continue this relationship because he plans to break it off with the other girl). I appreciate that she never gets around to actually sleeping with him, but the story can’t keep itself from directly speaking against those who decide to wait until marriage to have sex, comparing it to horse breeders who want to keep their lines pure. I’m frustrated these books keep emphasizing terrible arguments against waiting until marriage to have sex and staying faithful to your spouse.

Overall, though, this is a solid read, and provides an engaging next part to Kel’s adventures. I rate this book Recommended.

The Cult of Unicorns (Penny White #2)

Title: The Cult of Unicorns

Author: Chrys Cymri

Series: Penny White #2

Penny is balancing a life equal parts fantastic and mundane. She has a gryphon and a snail shark in her house, and is a liaison to a parallel world of dragons and other mythical creatures, but she’s also a small-town vicar. And that means sermons, baptisms, weddings, and putting up with an enormous list of petty annoyances. But people have been turning up dead, and the wounds look like they could be from unicorns . . .

This is as crazy and as funny as the first book. Penny mostly deals with stubborn or completely clueless people in her role as vicar, which demands a lot of patience. I like how several characters challenge her on her habit of stretching the truth. In some cases she might be justified, but most of the time it’s just trying to avoid trouble, and even though she doesn’t agree with them I like seeing her called out on it. Penny tends to go for the solution that doesn’t ruffle feathers, when everyone would probably be better off if she instead offered a bit of truth.

And Morey has cemented himself as my favorite character. He’s blisteringly intelligent, but he’s also a gryphon. Which means his perspective on things like hunting is that of a predator. He and Penny have a much better relationship now, but they still snip at each other.

The wedding was also hysterical. I get a definite vibe of “details have been altered but story is true” from so many of these encounters.

I am not fond of the heavy use of alcohol, and how basically everyone (at least in Penny’s circle) tries to drink their problems away. Penny almost reads like a functional alcoholic.

Overall, though, this is a fun story that tackles urban fantasy from the direction of someone of faith. It stands out for the authenticity of the highs and lows of trying to live out that faith, and for the unusual approach. I rate this book Recommended.