Jump to ratings and reviews
Rate this book

Derkholm #2

Year of the Griffin

Rate this book
It is eight years after the tours from offworld have stopped. High Chancellor Querida has retired, leaving Wizard Corkoran in charge of the Wizards' University. Although Wizard Corkoran's obsession is to be the first man on the moon, and most of his time is devoted to this project, he decides he will teach the new first years himself in hopes of currying the favor of the new students' families—for surely they must all come from wealth, important families—and obtaining money for the University (which it so desperately needs). But Wizard Corkoran is dismayed to discover that one of those students—indeed, one he had such high hopes for, Wizard Derk's own daughter Elda—is a huge golden griffin, and that none of the others has any money at all.

Wizard Corkoran's money-making scheme backfires, and when Elda and her new friends start working magic on their own, the schemes go wronger still. And when, at length, Elda ropes in her brothers Kit and Blade to send Corkoran to the moon... well... life at the Wizards' University spins magically and magnificently out of control.

This breathtakingly brilliant sequel to Dark Lord of Derkholm is all one would expect from this master of genre.

404 pages, Paperback

First published August 19, 2000

Loading interface...
Loading interface...

About the author

Diana Wynne Jones

164 books10.1k followers
Diana was born in London, the daughter of Marjorie (née Jackson) and Richard Aneurin Jones, both of whom were teachers. When war was announced, shortly after her fifth birthday, she was evacuated to Wales, and thereafter moved several times, including periods in Coniston Water, in York, and back in London. In 1943 her family finally settled in Thaxted, Essex, where her parents worked running an educational conference centre. There, Jones and her two younger sisters Isobel (later Professor Isobel Armstrong, the literary critic) and Ursula (later an actress and a children's writer) spent a childhood left chiefly to their own devices. After attending the Friends School Saffron Walden, she studied English at St Anne's College in Oxford, where she attended lectures by both C. S. Lewis and J. R. R. Tolkien before graduating in 1956. In the same year she married John Burrow, a scholar of medieval literature, with whom she had three sons, Richard, Michael and Colin. After a brief period in London, in 1957 the couple returned to Oxford, where they stayed until moving to Bristol in 1976.

According to her autobiography, Jones decided she was an atheist when she was a child.

Jones started writing during the mid-1960s "mostly to keep my sanity", when the youngest of her three children was about two years old and the family lived in a house owned by an Oxford college. Beside the children, she felt harried by the crises of adults in the household: a sick husband, a mother-in-law, a sister, and a friend with daughter. Her first book was a novel for adults published by Macmillan in 1970, entitled Changeover. It originated as the British Empire was divesting colonies; she recalled in 2004 that it had "seemed like every month, we would hear that yet another small island or tiny country had been granted independence."Changeover is set in a fictional African colony during transition, and begins as a memo about the problem of how to "mark changeover" ceremonially is misunderstood to be about the threat of a terrorist named Mark Changeover. It is a farce with a large cast of characters, featuring government, police, and army bureaucracies; sex, politics, and news. In 1965, when Rhodesia declared independence unilaterally (one of the last colonies and not tiny), "I felt as if the book were coming true as I wrote it."

Jones' books range from amusing slapstick situations to sharp social observation (Changeover is both), to witty parody of literary forms. Foremost amongst the latter are The Tough Guide To Fantasyland, and its fictional companion-pieces Dark Lord of Derkholm (1998) and Year of the Griffin (2000), which provide a merciless (though not unaffectionate) critique of formulaic sword-and-sorcery epics.

The Harry Potter books are frequently compared to the works of Diana Wynne Jones. Many of her earlier children's books were out of print in recent years, but have now been re-issued for the young audience whose interest in fantasy and reading was spurred by Harry Potter.

Jones' works are also compared to those of Robin McKinley and Neil Gaiman. She was friends with both McKinley and Gaiman, and Jones and Gaiman are fans of each other's work; she dedicated her 1993 novel Hexwood to him after something he said in conversation inspired a key part of the plot. Gaiman had already dedicated his 1991 four-part comic book mini-series The Books of Magic to "four witches", of whom Jones was one.

For Charmed Life, the first Chrestomanci novel, Jones won the 1978 Guardian Children's Fiction Prize, a once-in-a-lifetime award by The Guardian newspaper that is judged by a panel of children's writers. Three times she was a commended runner-up[a] for the Carnegie Medal from the Library Association, recognising the year's best children's book: for Dogsbody (1975), Charmed Life (1977), and the fourth Chrestomanci book The Lives of Christopher Chant (1988). She won the Mythopoeic Fantasy Award, children's section, in 1996 for The Crown of Dalemark.

Ratings & Reviews

What do you think?
Rate this book

Friends & Following

Create a free account to discover what your friends think of this book!

Community Reviews

5 stars
3,711 (40%)
4 stars
3,310 (35%)
3 stars
1,777 (19%)
2 stars
292 (3%)
1 star
113 (1%)
Displaying 1 - 30 of 340 reviews
Profile Image for carol..
1,516 reviews7,718 followers
November 19, 2015

Every now and then I have the urge for a comforting re-read, a diverting read that will be unlike real life enough to hold back the flood for a couple of hours. Year of the Griffin is one of those books for me, a lovely, reliable read about a group of young adults (both human and otherwise) at a school for wizards. Predating Harry Potter by three years, Diana Wynne Jones made her own foray into the traditional field of English magical schools and succeeds in marvelous, whimsical fashion.

Elda, the youngest griffin daughter of the famous wizard Derk, has enrolled at the nearly broke Wizards’ University without her father’s knowledge. It isn’t long before she meets a like-minded and curious group of friends: Ruskin, a revolutionary dwarf; Olga, a mysteriously wealthy and beautiful woman; Claudia, the outcast half-Marshwoman sister of the Emperor of the South; Lukin, the heir of the Kingdom of Luteria, and Felim, incognito from the country of the Emir to prevent assassins from learning his location. During introductions on the first day, Wizard Corkoran realizes his plan to solicit their families for more money won’t work since the students are either poor or in hiding. Unfortunately, he’s rapidly distracted by his project to be the first man to land on the moon and forgets to pass the word on to the administrative team, thus setting a wild chain of events in motion. Subsequent events include a flying horse, a bushel of oranges, a trip to the library, assassins, pirates, more griffins, a statue, twue love and cats.

Characterization is fun; all are reasonably developed and their bonding over shared academic and family frustrations seem entirely natural. In the long tradition of magical schools, it is refreshing to have a griffin and dwarf be part of the student mix, along with a few other representatives of countries/kingdoms in this world. It creates an interesting sense of diversity within the group. When their families come into play, each student gains a little more focus and detail. There is also an innocence and ingeniousness about the students that makes their efforts toward improvement quite sweet and not at all malicious. Eventually, a few members of the group and incoming supporting cast end up pairing off, but any romance is gentle and exists mostly in the area of hand-holding and shared company. The setting feels like a typical medieval fantasy setting, with carts and horses, fires for warmth and the like. It isn’t too fleshed out, but allows Jones to concentrate on characterization and action.

Plotting is fun. Driven initially by the disclosure that the six are currently students at the university, the converging families and chaos propel the action forward. When the six students realize trouble is headed their way, they band together. The spell-traps they create to protect one of their members are priceless fun. Corkoran’s focus on the moon shoot is especially entertaining from a real-world point of view.

I actually read this long before Dark Lord of Derkholm, so although it says “sequel,” don’t be put off. Most of the main characters from Dark Lord are only peripheral, and the preceding events are only responsible for the ruins of the college, not really what is happening to it now. The prior parallel worlds do help explain away some of the similarities and the stereotypes, quite clever on the part of Jones. However, the tone and conflicts of the two books are different enough that I wouldn’t call them a duology at all. Consider the second an insightful “whatever happened to –” installment.

Though the characters are young adult and the resolutions of issues neat, it is not a simple book by any means in concepts or language. Overall, it is very light in tone, the perfect kind of read when one needs a happy ending.

Highly recommended.
Re-read and updated 8/14
Profile Image for Melissa McShane.
Author 54 books738 followers
January 24, 2020
I really liked the narrator of Dark Lord of Derkholm, and I was a little sad that he didn't do this one, but since the narrator is the splendidly lovely Gemma Dawson, I wasn't too sad.

I think I've read this one other time, and that when it was published. So...nearly twenty years ago, and yet I remembered quite a lot of the story. I did not remember the beautiful but dim Melissa--are there any Melissas in books that are admirable? There's one in Anne Tyler's The Clock Winder and she's appalling. Anyway, it was disconcerting every time DWJ's Melissa did something dim-witted.

This book is yet another example of DWJ refusing to accept genre limitations. Technically I suppose it's YA, but the "kids" are all at least 18 and in college. So either it's defying convention, or the definition of YA should be reevaluated, or both, or neither...I don't know. It is, however, something I feel confident recommending to adult readers who aren't blinkered by notions of their own dignity. (I remember the Look I received from a sister-in-law when I handed her Howl's Moving Castle with the hideous cartoony cover, like she'd asked to pet a cat and I'd handed her a scabby mouse or something. Times have changed, and YA is acceptable to many adult readers, but we still have progress to make.)

I enjoyed the friendships that sprang up within the little group of misfit students. It reminded me of my own university days, though my friends and I didn't share enough classes to have that unified feeling of despair or anger over a particular professor. I also liked the return of characters from Dark Lord of Derkholm and getting to see them all grown up, especially Kit and Blade. And the secondary characters are a delight. My favorites are the tiny assassins and the mouse pirates and their continual appearances as forces of destruction.

One thing I did not like was the explosion of romances in the final chapter. I love romance in stories. But what I love about it is seeing it grow. In the final chapter there are at least five romances, and most of them are the spontaneous "I'm in love even though I barely know you" type. I can buy but even that wasn't very satisfying. So the ending fell flat for me. But overall I thoroughly enjoyed it, and the audio presentation was excellent.

A long time ago, I was reading all of DWJ's books in published order. This made me think it might be fun to pick up that challenge again.
Profile Image for Becca.
1,547 reviews2 followers
March 15, 2023
I really love this book. It's funny, sweet, and really ties up the story well. Maybe Jones did a little bit too much pairing off, but it's so cute that I don't mind. I also love the moon shot more than I can say, as well as the anti-assassin spells, food spells, and pretty much every other episode in the story.

2023 reread: I definitely don't record most times I reread this book, but it's just as good every time and that's amazing. DWJ was just the best.
Profile Image for Jackie "the Librarian".
868 reviews258 followers
October 19, 2007
Funny! I really loved this one. A griffin named Elda is starting her first year at the struggling Wizard's University. She makes friends with an assortment of misfits who, for various reasons, want to keep their presence at the University secret. Unfortunately for them, the University sends out letters to all their families in a fund-raising attempt that blows their cover.
This results in ninja attacks, armed forces arriving at the gates to demand the return of certain students, angry royal parents, and other mayhem. The misfits band together to deal with the various attacks with magic and creativity.
Griffin is the sequel to Dark Lord of Derkholm but can stand on its own. Another winner by Jones.
Profile Image for Blodeuedd Finland.
3,387 reviews293 followers
December 22, 2018
Oh she is so funny! Why did it take me ages to try her books! So far they have all been great fun.

This one takes on the whole wizard boarding school trope and it is hilarious. The University is run down and out of money. After Chesney they have barely any wizards who know real magic. Instead they teach basics that give you nothing.

To this glorious institution comes Elda, Derk's griffin daughter (yes you should read book 1 before, and no you do not have to read it before cos this stands well on its own, but you should still read it.)
She quickly becomes friends with a Dwarf revolutionary, a jinxed princess, a mysterious rich young woman, a crown prince with the worst talent and a man hiding from assassins. Let the good time begin!

They are all hiding from something, and all those things will show up and wreak havoc. There is a professor who knows nothing, another one that is trying to build a ship to get to the moon. There is never a dull moment at school from now on.

We meet old favorites from book 1, and it makes me wish there were more books in this serious. But then again, maybe I should just read more Wynne Jones books instead and hope they are fun too.

Fun. Humour. Crazy hi jinks.

Oh she was perfect and I really felt I was in this world. She had a great range and I was swept in by her.

Profile Image for Julie Davis.
Author 4 books264 followers
January 13, 2020
This is the sequel to a book I liked very much, The Dark Lord of Derkholm.

Many of the youngsters we met in The Dark Lord of Derkholm are Now in their first year of wizarding school. They discover that the many long years of serfdom giving tourist tours have given the existing wizards an extremely narrow view of magic use. They see it in strictly practical, stream-lined terms, with none of the potential for creativity, experimentation, and joy that is possible. Prompted by the last of the Dark Lords into expanding their magical horizons, the youngsters are creating chaos in their experimentation, but also proving surprisingly effective. Each person's storyline begins inadvertently edging the wizards' thinking about magic in new directions.

Overall, not one of the best Diana Wynne Jones but still quite enjoyable and fun in its own way as a coming of age/wizarding adventure.
Profile Image for Chris.
731 reviews99 followers
March 9, 2012
Year of the Griffin (not 'The' Year of the Griffin, by the way) is set in the same universe as The Dark Lord of Derkholm and their common source The Tough Guide to Fantasyland, but, bar a few cross references, works equally well as a standalone. Set eight years after Dark Lord, the story is centred on the young griffin Elda who is in her first year of University. Yes, a student griffin. At a university for wizards. You just know that things aren't going to be straightforward. And so it proves: one cohort of student freshers find that their expectations of university are disappointed, their families or communities back home are, to say the least, unsupportive; and yet, despite all the obstacles and challenges (and there are many) they – Felim, Ruskin, Claudia, Olga, and Lukin, as well as Elda – start to grow and develop both as magic-users and as individuals.

There are lots of images of circularity and sphericity here, compounded by the fact that none of the images are perfect. Take the Year of the title: we never actually witness the end of the year as most of the action is set in the autumn term. There are lots of references to oranges, but mostly always to mention the fact that they come apart in segments. One of the students frequently becomes protected by an accidental spell taking the form of a barrel made up of books, appropriately enough for a learning institution, which only evaporates when the danger has passed. A group of students, along with Professor Corkoran (the name no doubt inspired by the unfortunate captain of HMS Pinafore), heads off in a spherical space vehicle for the moon (though they inexplicably find themselves on Mars); sadly, they haven't thought things through and the lunar module, designed to be life-sustaining, threatens to end their existence. The circular theme is reinforced by David Wyatt's splendid but initially enigmatic cover illustration for the original Gollancz paperback: it shows a golden griffin through a round window (one of her feathers is in the foreground), which we eventually realise is part of a barrel viewed from above (or below, it's ambiguous, despite the darts sticking in its side); there's also a visual example of a wizard's attempt to enclose oranges in a metal shell (don't ask why) that effectively renders them cannonballs, unfit for their original purpose. Why the recurrent fallible examples? Maybe because nothing ever turns out perfect in this story. (Except the ending, perhaps.)

Then there is the young griffin, Elda, who contrary to the sound of her name is the youngest in a family of humans and test-tube beings. Part-lion, part-eagle, part-human, Elda pitches in with a bunch of other misfit students who are all also escaping from the expectations of their families or communities. In fact, Year of the Griffin is, underneath the joyous storytelling, inventive fantasy and punning witticisms, a critique of a number of social institutions in this, our own world. Foremost of the critiques is that reserved for the corrosive effects of conformity, whether imposed by traditions, laws or sheer ignorance. Typical is the attitude of academia at the university, which suppresses creative thinking and practical magic in favour of dry rote-learning and limited outcomes. A graduate of Oxford University, with a partner who is Emeritus Professor of English at Bristol University, Jones will have been well aware of the politicking that goes on in academia the world over, the inevitable conflicts between research and teaching needs, the financial considerations that underpin every decision and policy, and the human weaknesses to which all scholarship is prey. No surprise then that the Wizard University is riddled with accidents waiting to happen. And that they do.

Bar a couple of excursions, pretty much all the action takes place within the confines of the campus. At times this can be claustrophobic, but the students are often able to escape to the world of books or seek companionship amongst like-minded magic-users. In fact, Year of the Griffin is an almost Shakespearean comedy ('comedy' in all senses of the word) which, barring the calls of Morpheus, I could hardly put down over the period of just a few days. Why Shakespearean? Well, typically for Shakespeare, young male and female protagonists frequently get hitched by the end of the action (as in 'Midsummer Night's Dream', 'Much Ado' and so on), frequently with multiple pairings on the cards. Secondly, things don't start to go right till at the end, when often a ruler steps in to call a halt to the mayhem and gives a judgement (Wizard Policant, aided by Chancellor Querida, fulfills this role). And thirdly, magic, or the pagan past, often is a crucial part of the story to emphasise that this is hyper-reality.

No apologies are needed, I believe, for such an extended (if obviously incomplete) commentary on what some might argue is just a children's fantasy novel. But Diana Wynne Jones hardly ever wrote a straightforward story in her preferred genre: her young adult fantasies nearly always work on several levels rather than just as a superficial narrative. As the mythical griffin was regarded as the guardian of gold, so Year of the Griffin conceals real treasures between its covers.
Profile Image for Olga Godim.
Author 12 books70 followers
September 24, 2013
This spoof of fantasy tropes defies every genre convention and turns the familiar story of a magic school (Harry Potter, anyone?) upside down. Laughter is a gift of this tale, where every dangerous situation has its farcical silver lining.
The action takes place in a magic university, where six first year students study magic and have adventures and help each other deal with their deadly families. Most of them are deadly anyhow.
There are assassins shrunk to the size of rats, pirates turned into mice, a walking cloakrack and a trip to Mars – by accident. There are incompetent teachers and inedible food in the cafeteria. There are spells for every occasion, and of course, there are griffins: a magical mix between a lion, an eagle, a human and a cat. Charming!
I won’t talk about the plot of this novel, except that it’s so full of buffoonery you have to read it for yourself. Humor sparkles now and again, as the author follows her chosen group of students through their college escapades, all of them ridiculous but exciting.
The protagonists are a diverse bunch: one dwarf, one griffin, one green girl from the marches, and three humans. Their friendship blooms despite their diversity, as all of them are united in one fact: they are all at the university in secret, studying magic against the express wishes of their families or their masters. Except the griffin Elda, of course. Her family is the best, with lots of love for all its human and griffin members. Whenever the others’ families manifest as an invasion of senators or an influx of assassins or a pirate raid, Elda’s numerous relatives are there to assist.
The characters are all cartoonish, more suitable to an anime caper or a comic video game than a dramatic feature. They are sympathetic but not alive, more avatars than living souls. The fact doesn’t diminish their attraction to the reader, which was a surprise for me. Unlike a serious fantasy story, where my emotional core is usually involved, this book captivated my brain with its wit and engaged my laughing buds with its absurdities.
The only irritating detail was the author’s head-hopping. There are too many points of view in this novel, but I enjoyed reading it all the same.
Recommended to anyone who loves fantasy.

Footnote: Some time ago, I tried to read the first book of this series – The Dark Lord of Derkholm – but I couldn’t finish it. This one I loved. Perhaps I should try to read the first one again, to get the background for this one.
Profile Image for Melora.
575 reviews141 followers
December 15, 2015
Cute and sweet. Sort of “Harry Potterish,” only with lots more “main” characters and with the Danger to be Met replaced by Individual Challenges Which Really Only Affect Our Protagonists. By which I mean that there were too many characters for me to really care about any of them, and too many little story arcs to maintain any sort of narrative tension. For me. Plus, the villains all felt like caricatures and the romantic pairings off were rather predictable.

Not that I didn't enjoy the story! While this is nothing like as good as Howl's Moving Castle, or some of the better Chrestomancis, Year of the Griffin has some really fun characters and clever set-ups. I got a kick out to the university politicking, and the spirit of camaraderie among the students is really nicely done.

I've read that Dark Lord of Derkholm isn't tightly tied to this book, but I suspect that if I had read that first I'd have enjoyed this one more. Several of the characters whom we meet only in passing here, such as the wizard Derk, his wife, Mara, Kit, Blade, Querida, seemed intriguing, and I wanted more on them. Brief references to “the tours,” “Mr. Chesney,” and “the gods” felt like teases, though I realize that I set myself up by reading the books out of order. Last time I make that mistake for a while! Anyway, this is light and fun, but I think I recommend reading Dark Lord before you read this one. I'm adding it to my list now!
Profile Image for Celia.
1,356 reviews86 followers
December 30, 2007
Awww - this follow up (some eight years later) to The Dark Lord of Derkholm is a wonderful fantasy novel. Elda, Derk's griffin daughter, attends the University, and becomes mixed up in assasination plots, and a trip to the moon. Elda is a terribly sweet character, and all the friends she makes at University (with their variety of dark pasts they're hiding from) are wonderful as well. This is typical Diana Wynne Jones - funny and very, very engaging.
Profile Image for Hazel.
282 reviews
May 27, 2020
15% good

Slightly attention grabbing at the beginning, this book's interestingness quickly faded away like fog in the morning. Not a book that I looked forward to reading every day at all.

Author:Diana Wynne Jones
Ages:11+ for slight violence
Note on age rating: These age ratings are not professional but simply my opinion.
Profile Image for Sesana.
5,106 reviews348 followers
April 17, 2017
A positively delightful sequel to Dark Lord of Derkholm, this time focused on a magical academy. At times, it's a rather pointed look at academia, but that never gets in the way of telling interesting stories about a beautifully developed group of friends. There's a touch of romance, but it's only a touch, and it's rather light.
Profile Image for Kaethe.
6,361 reviews455 followers
July 17, 2014
Jones had a great time going to college, if this book is anything to judge by. (Of course, she got to hear lectures by C. S. Lewis and J. R. R. Tolkien, so I can't help thinking it must have been heaven). So, this is a book about a group of undergraduates who meet and form friendships and romance right off the bat. And although things at college aren't ideal, and most of them have very challenging problems with their families, they do work together and learn and make decisions and affect their futures in a way very like Circle of Friends.

I have previously expressed a desire to live inside House of Many Ways because of never having to cook and the library, but no one who loves the idea of Hogwarts can be other than smitten with this particular wizarding college. Unlike Terry Pratchett's Unseen University it is fully integrated both by sex and species: there's a griffin, a dwarf, several heirs to different thrones. There's also some eccentric but good professors and some eccentric and awful ones, assassins, pirates, Legionaries, and a Disneyesque coatrack in thrall. There's lots of coffee being drunk, and some booze, and actual studying, as well as everyone ending up happily ever after.

So, now, this Derkholm is the world I most want to live in, even if the food isn't that tasty, because unlike Harry Potter's world, the murderous thugs here are easily thwarted by clever people.

Library copy.
Profile Image for Chelsey Adams.
102 reviews
November 3, 2015
Rather liked the Dark Lord of Derkholm book, but really struggled to get through this one. The first book had a good over-arcing objective: to end the tours and somehow get out of the hold of Mr. Chesney. This book...I'm still not sure of the objective. To save the University? To help each of these students to find their spouses? To overcome the various things sent against them? Who was the main character? Who was this book really about? It just was trying to do too many things and be too many things and, as such, it became a bit of a disjointed mess.

By the last 50 pages of this book I was so fed up with my slow progress (since it just didn't have a specific story to draw me in) and wanted to move on to my next book, so I just started glancing through pages to get the jist of things. Even with that, I BARELY made it to the end of this book. Really disapointed.
Profile Image for martha.
559 reviews52 followers
May 13, 2008
The sequel to Dark Lord of Derkholm: Elda the Griffin goes to magic school. In that way it's every so slightly like Harry Potter meets Diana Wynne Jones, but it's much more DWJ-y, with a whole lot of really diverse characters all maneuvering toward one big climax. Also very romance-focused for a DWJ book; there's more pairing off than in most of her other books put together.

Honestly, I'm still a little weirded out by the part-animals and humans being genetically related. (The griffins are "children" of a wizard and his wife, and have human siblings.) And there's a lot of stuff about the mating rituals of griffins -- especially how the female ones react -- that further complicates the way she writes women. But it's still awesomely imaginative like all her books.
Profile Image for Ellie.
24 reviews2 followers
March 23, 2016
I usually love Diana Wynne Jones' books, but I could not eyeroll hard enough while trying to get through this book. Perhaps I would have enjoyed it more if I had read it when I was 12.

I struggled to figure out the purpose of this book. It sort of felt like fanfiction. All the main(?) characters conveniently became best friends immediately, seemed to talk in unison, all paired off, and the character development seemed halfassed. Each character was conveniently gifted with a particular talent so when they worked together they achieved everything. They all conveniently served a significant purpose for fixing the post-Chesney Tours world.

This entire review has been hidden because of spoilers.
Profile Image for Robin Stevens.
Author 49 books2,058 followers
August 12, 2019
One of the best books EVER about life at university, set in one of my very favourite fantasy worlds. (12+)

*Please note: this review is meant as a recommendation only. If you use it in any marketing material, online or anywhere on a published book without asking permission from me first, I will ask you to remove that use immediately. Thank you!*
Profile Image for Polly.
3,194 reviews44 followers
April 2, 2019
Goodness I enjoyed this! I think I like it even better than Dark Lord of Derkholm, and that's saying quite a lot! The griffins are such great characters--actually, most of the characters are great--and I love all the magical university politics!
Profile Image for Harold Ogle.
309 reviews43 followers
July 6, 2021
Recommendation: Another fantastic novel from Jones, Year of the Griffin is a wonderful comedy about magic, hopes, and dreams.

Review: The book is ostensibly a sequel to The Dark Lord of Derkholm, but familiarity with that novel almost isn't necessary . It is about a bunch of young students with magic talent who have come to the University of Wizards to study magic, and the reasons they have to be nervous about their studies. There's Felim, the charmingly polite and handsome young man ; Claudia, the shy, slightly greenish girl ; Olga, a large fierce-looking girl , Ruskin the dwarf with bones braided into his hair ; Lukin, the large, shabby-looking boy , and Elda the golden griffin . The book follows their journey to learn magic while many challenges arise at the University.

Critique: I hope that no one thinks that this novel, which takes place at the University for Wizards, was in any way a response to the Harry Potter series, because that's a completely fatuous comparison. You'd be hard-pressed to find any similarities between the novels. This novel really feels much more like a Shakespearean comedy than YA fiction: there's lots of mistaken identity gags, slapstick, mockery of pompous characters, companionship, and the first stirrings of romance. It's really a delight.
Profile Image for Rosamund Taylor.
Author 1 book119 followers
March 13, 2021
The wizards' university is struggling. The buildings are falling apart, and the teachers haven't been properly educated. But Elda the griffin, daughter of one of the most famous wizards in the world, arrives excited and eager to learn. In her tutorial group, she meets Ruskin the runaway dwarf, as well as four humans: Lukin, Felim, Claudia and Olga. Faced with terrible food and unhelpful teachers, the six of them quickly bond. Then the assassins arrive.

This is a very fun DWJ adventures: Elda is a wonderful character, a loving and intelligent griffin, and her friends are all very likeable and have interesting backstories. The madcap magical exploits combine with DWJ's typical distrust for authority and characters who must learnt to depend on themselves. DWJ is passionate about learning, but her books tend to feature characters who struggle with the pedagogical method presented to them and must figure out how to do things in their own. Year of the Griffin is particularly typical of this. I really enjoyed many of the elements here: the unruly cast of characters, the overlapping plot threads, and the respect and humour with which DWJ explores her themes. For a lesser writer, the many elements here would push the narrative too far into nonsense -- and this is a trap DWJ has fallen into in other books. But everything works in Year of the Griffin, creating imaginative and thoughtful escapism. Recommended.
Profile Image for Emmalyn Renato.
445 reviews12 followers
January 29, 2022
The Dark Lord of Derkholm was one of my favorite reads of 2021. This book will be one of my favorite reads this year. Again, I'd give this 6 stars out of 5 if I could. It's marketed as a YA book, but it's way more than that. It's a fun found-family magical fantasy that'll leave you feeling good. Characters that you will be cheering on and others that you hope nasty things will happen to.
Profile Image for icep4ck.
64 reviews12 followers
August 31, 2018
Otra joya escrita por Diana.

Es de esos libros que te ponen de buen humor porque te hace reír a cada rato. De algún modo Diana tiene un cast de personajes super extenso y todos logran contribuir a la historia de un modo u otro.

El final es super cursi y lo amo.
Profile Image for Freya Marske.
Author 13 books1,592 followers
April 7, 2019
PURE CHAOS but in a very DWJ-ian and delightful way.
64 reviews1 follower
February 13, 2020
love the way dwj writes straights. not sure how i feel about her uh. shall we say cultural competency. also i like the way she write psychological problems.
Profile Image for Katherine Parys.
48 reviews
September 3, 2022
A funny, quirky, lovable story done in the way only Diana Wynne Jones could do. This goes right up with there with Howl’s Moving Castle for me. A fun comfort read if there ever was one.
Profile Image for Courtenay.
445 reviews2 followers
February 11, 2020
Charming story about a school for wizards with poor students, inept teachers, a quest for the moon, family dynamics, assassins, love and hope. The characters are griffins, dwarves, and real people who are wizards, an emperor, a king, and children of the aforementioned. I enjoyed the romances and pranks, as well as the dysfunctional families becoming more functional. You don’t have to read THE DARK LORD OF DERKHOLM, but it helps a little.
Profile Image for Vendea.
357 reviews
December 23, 2021
Although it references a lot of elements from the first book this really is an in-universe sequel rather than a proper story sequel. Nothing near as high stakes as the first book but I really enjoyed it as just a fun, happy read.
Displaying 1 - 30 of 340 reviews

Can't find what you're looking for?

Get help and learn more about the design.