Review: "Lord of the Changing Winds" by Rachel Neumeier

Lord of the Changing WindsLord of the Changing Winds follows the story of Kes, a young herb-woman healer on the cusp of adulthood in the small rural town of Minas Ford in the earthen kingdom of Feierabiand. Kes, while never fitting in, struggles to be accepted, making as little trouble as possible for her sister and guardian, Tesme, often by seeking refuge in isolation out in the surrounding woods.

On one particular hike, Kes notices strange activity in the mountains. Despite keeping her silence about her discovery, word of the griffins circling in the mountain skies spreads quickly in the small town and soon, a stranger arrives seeking help… help only a healer can provide.  Kes, suspicious yet compelled, follows the stranger back into the mountains.

What is refreshing about Lord of the Changing Winds is that it presents a refreshingly new adaptation of griffin lore. When neighboring kingdom Casmantium begins to threaten their desert with ice, the Griffins are forced to flee, taking their desert with them. Griffins are so intimately bound with the element of fire, it has become their own life essence, their spirit. Their culture fuels from the warmth, the energy, and the freedom of the desert flames and has given flight to their unique politics, customs, and language. These elements combine uniquely in each griffin character to create a very rich experience for the reader.

The system of magic is purely elemental and as such is geographically bound. An individual born in Feierabiand will be naturally endowed with some sort of earth-based magic. Most commonly found is various affinities for specific animals or particular skill with a crop. A select few are born with great skill and understanding. They are to become Mages.  Throughout the book, Kes is faced with trying decisions between her humanity and the griffins she protects… between earth and fire.

Lord of the Changing Winds is the first book in The Griffin Mage series, written by Rachel Neumeier. It is followed by Land of the Burning Sands, available now, and Law of the Broken Earth, available in December of 2010. Neumeier has previously written young-adult fantasy and, while The Griffin Mage series isn’t marketed strictly as such, the content still seems to be directed toward younger adults. The language is simple, with some scattered cases of elevated vocabulary. Many young readers will find themselves relating to Kes as she struggles to discover herself throughout her coming of age adventure. However, the plot, while captivating, isn’t very complex and might not hold mature readers.

Reading level: Young Adult
Mass Market Paperback: 400 pages
Publisher: Orbit; First edition (
May 1, 2010)
ISBN-10: 0316072788
ISBN-13: 978-0316072786

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