Title: The Crystal Gryphon
Author: Andre Norton
I must say, having read Gryphon’s Eyrie several times before I even knew about (let alone find) this one, I went into this book with a foreknowledge similar to one who has read a series and now has the prequel.
As one of the main characters, Kerovan’s manner is stiff and rather formal. When one places it against the foil of his upbringing – the emotional abandonment of his father; the hatred from his mother; and the eventual loss of those he’d come to know as friends – such detachment is rather human. This inner turmoil is constant in all of narrative, yet it does not overwhelm the reader in a ‘poor me’ attitude, instead it has an atmosphere of acceptance.
On the other side of the coin, Joisan, who we are told from the get-go is to become his wife (and shares the chapter-switch with Kerovan) is confident in herself and, though not sure of her abilities, has a wide streak of determination that goes far to make her a good and strong character.
Though set against the back-drop of an invasion (one whose origins are clearer if read in sequence with the other witch world novels), there is little in the way of political or military talk, but it’s pretty clear early on that this is more about the characters inner struggle than the physical battles happening around them, yet both play an important part to make this story a fantastic read.