Thirty years after the fall of their home, Tesmar, the gryphons and giphens of Ava’s clan feel a shaky peace. Settled in the cliffs near the ocean, the clan subsists on scraps of fish caught by their human allies. It’s not the greatest situation, but at least they’re safe. Until a dark force threatens the clan and awakens in Ava a power she never knew.
One of the aspects of this fantasy that I enjoyed was the use of a different mythological creature. There’s little mention of dragons and elves and the like in the first book of Lark’s series (though I suspect we’ll see more of the elves in book 2). The gryphons and giphens (littler gryphons with awesome magic abilities) enjoy a symbiotic relationship with the humans in their company. And the antagonists, called the Endarkened, are gigantor lizard-creatures with a different form of magic from what Ava’s clan uses (the humans, as per usual, are without magic, but not without awesome physical abilities).
The world-building in Lark’s book is pretty darn good. There are brief moments where we get a glimpse of the races’ rich histories and how they overlap. There’s mention of treaties and alliances, but there’s not a lot of backstory, which is nice. One of Trueblood’s strengths is its ability to keep you in the moment. If anything, this might be one of those rare books where we get too little information. There are only a few spots (maybe two or three at the most) that feel a little info-dumpy.
One of my gripes with this little book is the language. For me, the dialogue kept this good book from being great. Awkward speech and weird contractions threw me a bit, and I had to re-read some dialogue a few times. There were also many instances of “talking heads” where I couldn’t keep up with who was saying what. Stylistically, it’s one of the things that makes me CRAZY.
A second gripe would be the multiple POVs in the book. I didn’t feel they were that necessary. If it’d been pared down to Ava’s POV and Kivra’s (Ava’s human best friend), the book would have been stronger in my opinion. In this instance, I didn’t think the reader needed to know what each side was thinking, but as it was, the book offers Ava’s, Kivra’s, Rafner’s (a giphen Elder), and Varrian’s (an enemy mage) points of view. For me, Varrian’s POV took away a lot of the tension. Especially since his wasn’t a consistent POV and seemed to be in there for the sake of relaying information.
All in all, Trueblood’s Plight is a delightful read for someone who wants a break from the dragons, elves, etc of high fantasy. Small nitpicks keep this book from landing on the absolute must-read of fantasy, but it’s still quite enjoyable.