The Dark Griffin, by K.J. Taylor

Arren raised his head, too, and screamed his own name at the heavens.
He thought he saw the black griffin pause in its circling. Then it screamed back. There were no discernable words there, just a long, harsh screech, like an eagle’s. Arren paused at this; he’d never heard a griffin’s cry that sounded like that. But as the black griffin began to descend and he began to run away out of the village, toward the fields, a thought flashed across his mind: this griffin had no name.

Despite being a Northener, the former slave race, Arren Cardockson has managed to become a griffiner. With his griffin, Eluna, he oversees trade in the city of Eagleholm, but knows his northern appearance means he will never be fully respected. When Arren and Eluna are sent to capture a rogue griffin, Arren sees a chance to earn some money and some respect, but his meeting with the mysterious black griffin begins a chain of events which sees his fortunes plummet.

For the black griffin, life has been hard and lonely. Living in the wild, he has little memory of his mother and has only met, briefly, one other griffin. His meeting with Arren will also change his life, from one of freedom to one of imprisonment and confusion.

Griffin and griffiner are in conflict, but as their lives spiral out of control it seems they may have something in common.

The Dark Griffin is the first title in a new fantasy series, The Fallen Moon. The land of Cymria is ruled by those humans who can communicate with, and work with, the griffins, with both rogue humans and wild griffins treated poorly. For Arren, who has risen to his position because a griffin chose him, his background means that he does not have access to justice. For the black griffin, his inability to communicate with humans means he does not understand the human world. Each of the pair must fight for survival, and for freedom.

This is a gripping fantasy offering suitable for both adult and older teen readers.

The Dark Griffin (Fallen Moon)

The Dark Griffin (Fallen Moon), by K.J. Taylor
Harper Voyager, 2009

The Land of Bad Fantasy, by K.J. Taylor

The medallion appeared at around four in the afternoon, when I was doing my homework…It was very large: larger than the palm of my hand. On one side was etched a map, though not a map of any continent I recognised. The other side was covered in some kind of script I couldn’t read. I sighed, tossed the medallion aside and returned to my books. Mysterious happenings were all very well, but I had work to do.

Ana Beachcombe isn’t terribly surprised when a magic transport medallion lands in her bedroom. She does, after all, live in a Crossroads universe where all other universes meet. She waits for the right moment to use the medallion – packing carefully and planning her exit for maximum impact. Soon she finds herself alone in a strange land – Sydnup: the Land of Bad Fantasy. Here she makes some strange friends – a troll who is allergic to eating people, a were-person who turns into a canary instead of a wolf, and a monster who is scared of just about everything. Together the four go an a quest across Sydnup to he great city of Laundromatt, to speak to the King about equal rights for all.

The Land of Bad Fantasy proclaims itself as a parody of every fantasy you’ve ever read. Fantasy fans will recognise characters and motifs from the genre – from the teenage wizard with glasses and messy hair, to the quest itself and the consequent complications. Ana is a wryly cynical narrator and central character, who relates her adventures in a conversational voice which is easy to read.

Prior familiarity with the fantasy genre will be a helpful tool for readers, with much of the humour stemming from the clichéd characters, landscapes and events.

The Land of Bad Fantasy, by K. J. Taylor
Omnibus, 2006