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The Black Gryphon

(Valdemar: Mage Wars #1)

4.04  ·  Rating details ·  12,577 ratings  ·  228 reviews
The first in a fantasy trilogy: the adventures of the magical forces—wizards, empaths, telepaths and healers—fighting what will be an epic war. The greatest warrior is The Black Gryphon…
Kindle Edition, 467 pages
Published January 1995 by DAW (first published January 1st 1994)
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Kaitlynn I get the best experience if I start at page 1, personally.
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Mar 28, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fantasy
*** 4.25 ***

The Black Gryphon, first chronologically in The Valdemar series, turned out to be one very pleasant read. The Mage Wars Trilogy is the start of a sweeping through thousands of years series and I decided to follow the reading order recommended by the author. Fantasy Buddy Reads group started reading it this moth and I jumped right in.

"...“Inexperience can be overcome, ignorance can be enlightened, but prejudice will destroy you.”..."

The Black Gryphon covers the brewing war between
Mar 31, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: read-in-2018
4.5 stars
If you're looking for a light lovely read you should definitely consider this!

Why? Because of Skandranon Rashkae, the black gryphon, also known as simply Skan

who can fly into terrible rages, curse himself for being a stupid bird or forget his tongue sticking out of the corner of his beak at the sight of a beautiful gryphon lady!

Because of Kestra'chern Amberdrake or simply Drake

who despite his well groomed appearance and jazzy clothing provides service as an experienced empath and heal
Apr 02, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fantasy, buddy-read
3.75 stars

This was my first book by Mercedes Lackey and, reading it now, it does feel a bit old school but that didn't lessen my enjoyment of the story. It's not super complex - the good guys are good, the bad guys are bad - but it was a very pleasant, calming read.
Apr 29, 2008 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fantasy
This was my first Mercedes Lackey book, all the way back in High School. I have read it soo many times since. I love the "civilian perspective" that this book gives to a war. So many fantasy books focus on the battles and "great deeds". You only see three battle scenes the whole book and one of them is more of an afterthought of a battle. The true focus is on the downtime in between the battles and how the fighters and their support go about their lives in spite of the war. I LOVE the characters ...more
This is one of the first books I read in the Valdemar world, and it hooked me quite thoroughly. It is still my favorite of the ones I have read so far.

The characters are engaging, even when they are showing a little flatness. None of their developments are particularly unique - finding confidence, learning to ask for help, learning you can't always have any mate you want all spring immediately to mind. However, they are presented in a unique wrapping, and they are unoriginal because they are ne
Feb 10, 2009 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Feb 21, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Revisiting another of my favorite Mercedes Lackey books found me smiling in remembrance; I hadn't marked this as 'read' in my time on Goodreads, but the instant familiarity means it must have been one of the last books I read before I joined this site. I knew I had read it, but it was so familiar that it can't have been that long ago I read it.

Like with many of Lackey's books, the war is only secondary to the relationships of the characters. There is rich history here, and the stories all inter
Lisa (Harmonybites)
Sep 27, 2010 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Fans of Valdemar
Shelves: fantasy, novels, fiction
I love Lackey's Valdemar novels, and this is set in the same world a thousand years before that country's founding, in the midst of a cataclysmic war referred to more than once in that series.

One of Lackey's strengths is her world-building, and that's certainly on display here, with magical races like the gryphons developed in interesting ways, and I liked the title character, Skandranon. The novel kept my interest, was a fairly enjoyable read, and I did go on to read (and mostly enjoy) the nex
Apr 07, 2010 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Everyone
First of the trilogy about the "pre-history" of Valdemar. This entails the story of the Mage wars and how the people were scattered in order to save them from the threat of Ma'ar and his evil hordes. The people are aided in their efforts by gryphons...flying carnivores that speak and think in human language. They are raptors but constructed on a larger scale by their beloved Founder Urtho. The Black Gryphon is the main character and the best friend of Amberdrake, a kind of professional counselor ...more
Mar 03, 2009 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: favorites
Mercedes Lackey has to be one of my favourite fantasy authors ever. Her talent for creating believable magical worlds and elegant, mystical creatures shines in this book. It's a gripping read from start to finish.
Jul 01, 2008 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fantasy, fiction
I used to read a lot of Mercedes Lackey a long time ago, I guess in my early teens. I really loved her various Valdemar series. Recently, kind of because I don't read as much as I used to and am tired of books that just don't engage me, I was thinking maybe I should try falling back on some authors I used to like. Lackey was basically the one at the top of my list since I remembered her books as being so enjoyable.

I wouldn't say I liked The Black Gryphon as much as some of my other favorites by
Feb 26, 2015 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
A friend lent me the Mage Wars trilogy, which is a prequel trilogy in Mercedes Lackey's Valdemar world. I love Mercedes Lackey's Elemental Masters series to bits, so I've been keen to read Valdemar books for a while. This friend is a massive Lackey fan, and offered to lend me the first Valdemar book, so of course I accepted!

The only snag is that The Black Gryphon is the internal chronology first Valdemar book, not the publication order first :/ I am usually super pedantic about reading series in
This is the novel that started me on my love affair with Mercedes Lackey and her Valdemar series. I decided to re-read this after being able to meet the author and her husband Larry Dixon who did the art for the book. This trilogy in the series is a bit different than any other sequentially later books. This is really the only time gryphons are the focus of the series. Skandranon who is the main focus is a smartassed "bird" with a huge ego, and for me, it makes him funny instead of annoying, esp ...more
Kelley Ceccato
I read this book several years before I became involved with Goodreads, and I'm just now feeling moved to write a review because I saw it listed as one of the "Best 'Strong Female' Fantasy Novels." I'll get the bad news out of the way first: it really isn't, at least to me. I never could manage to warm up to the bigoted shrew Winterhart; even after her supposed reformation, I still found her one of the least engaging of all Lackey's female leads. One female character did capture my heart and wou ...more
Jeremy Preacher
Dec 26, 2009 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fantasy
The advantage to rereading the Valdemar books in internal chronological order is that I get my least favorite ones out of the way first. I do not like the Gryphon trilogy much at all - Larry Dixon's influence is far too noticeable, and while his illustrations are nice enough, the man can't write. The result is a really choppy book, with some good parts - I love the idea of a professional therapist/masseuse/high-class escort, because we all have needs, and they're very much intertwined, I think. ...more
Jul 24, 2011 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: everyone
Recommended to Renee by: kristen schwengel
This is a truly brilliant example of a full-blown three-dimensional nonhuman character. Skandranan is proud, vain, reckless, loyal, fierce and completely loveable. He's a gryphon, the ultimate predator who always manages to come back from one-way missions. He's one the front lines of a magic war the good guys are losing. So Skandranan goes on one last heroic mission - that will either save everyone or destroy everything.

I love Mercedes Lackey, and this book is the pinnacle as to why. Her charact
Dec 07, 2007 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Valdemar fans
Shelves: fantasy
Having reread this series this week, I found that this first book, is actually the most powerful of this so called "trilogy" - which really is a loose collection of connected stories. It is a good perspective, historically speaking, of Urtho and the Mage Wars of Valdemar. Ma'ar is not nearly as interesting as you would hope, however, in comparison to his other iterations. However, it was a great book, with a lot of strength in its story, and is highly recommended for Valdemar fans. The second an ...more
Apr 19, 2012 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This book had a lot to do, introducing the reader to a new world and many new species, so it is not surprising that it was difficult to get a handle on what is going on as the book unfolds. By the end of the book, however, the reader is fully invested and wanting to move on to the second in the series, even though the first in the series doesn't end terribly well. It certainly ended better than expected at one point. The illustrations are wonderful, although the placement was a bit misleading fr ...more
Mar 22, 2010 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This was the first book by Mrs. Lackey that I had ever picked up. The title and cover art drew me to it and I have never regretted picking it up.
Nov 21, 2008 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 00-reviewed
Apr 13, 2018 rated it liked it
Shelves: fantasy, kindle-books
*actual rating: 3.5 out of 5 stars*
This book was interesting, mainly because of the characters. They are all really well-written and are the saving grace of this story. Unfortunately, the lack of world-building got me. I was confused about much of what was going on at the beginning of the book, so much so that characters had been introduced and had several scenes before relevant gender or species information was provided. It made it very hard to picture what was happening and what everyone looke
Searska GreyRaven
Pinning down what bugged me most about this one isn't easy. It's one part the total lack of a female character who wasn't an offensive cardboard cutout stereotype, one part confusing worldbuilding, and one part nothing happening for the vast majority of the book except for vague interpersonal squabbles involving one-shot characters. I usually love Lackey's stuff, but this fell completely and totally flat for me.
Sep 05, 2018 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: mercedes-lackey
This is the first book of the Valdemar series - chronologically. It's good as far as introducing the beginning of things, but I found it a bit slow. It seemed to drag out some things that might have been better if they'd been moved along a little faster. However, it was a great introduction and I am looking forward to continuing on with the series.
Olga Godim
Jul 14, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fantasy-scifi
This is probably my favorite book in all the Valdemar series. Always has been. It has to do with gryphons. And a war. And love. And magic. And gryphons. Delicious on all counts.
Anja Petković
Aug 19, 2014 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Jun 30, 2010 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
The Black Gryphon The entire Valdemar series is a favorite of mine and one that I have reread repeatedly over the years. The series unfolds in the form of trilogies, duologies, singles, etc., and this series, Mage Wars, is the start of it all.
The Black Gryphon takes place long before the Valdemar kingdom is founded, a time of magic and the fight for power. A war is brewing between two great mages, Urtho and Maar. Urtho wants nothing more than to protect his realm and the people in it. To that e
Gabrielle Lissauer

This is the first of three books discussing the pre-history of Mercedes Lackey's Valadmar series. I read it ages ago before I knew what it was connected to and much about the author in general. I enjoyed the book, but never went on to read the next two in the series. But recently, I decided I wanted to read the book again with, not exactly fresh eyes, but knowledgeable eyes. Would the book hold up to my memory. Would my knowledge of the previous series and a great deal more about the structure o
Jun 12, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2017, fantasy, mind-candy
Sooo you all know that I'm a Mercedes Lackey fan, right? Of her books, anyway. I am well aware of their (multiple) flaws, and I definitely make fun of them with the best, but I do genuinely enjoy them (most of them) (*glares at Unnatural Issue*).

So, The Black Gryphon. First in the Mage Wars trilogy and the only one to really deserve the trilogy name, set way before Valdemar even was a Valdemar, and I think mostly written so people didn't think the Mage Storms trilogy came out of nowhere. Black
Jessica Manalo
Sep 28, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Get ready to be entranced by the fiction story,"The Black Gryphon", by Mercedes Lackey and Larry Dixon.

This story changed my idea of an amazing story forever. The tale threw you into the life of Skandranon and Amberdrake as well as their mates during a massive war between two mages. Skandranon is a magnificent gryphon with sheening black feathers and Amberdrake is a kestra’chern or advanced healer.

Skandranon is the perfect example of a gryphon. This gryphon, has keen eyesight and humongous wings
Mercedes Lackey’s Valdemar series provides one of the cornerstones of my reading past. After discovering her when quite young, I still follow new additions to the series - nearly twenty years later! I read and re-read these books over and over again throughout my youth, but I haven't re-read this series in its entirety in a long time - and never as an adult. There are some new books added to the series since the last time I read them, so this re-reading project is pretty exciting for me since it ...more
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Fantasy Buddy Reads: The Black Gryphon [Mar 26, 2018] 52 40 Mar 30, 2018 10:40AM  
Goodreads Librari...: Page numbering 5 33 Dec 03, 2011 10:14AM  
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Mercedes entered this world on June 24, 1950, in Chicago, had a normal childhood and graduated from Purdue University in 1972. During the late 70's she worked as an artist's model and then went into the computer programming field, ending up with American Airlines in Tulsa, Oklahoma. In addition to her fantasy writing, she has written lyrics for and recorded nearly fifty songs for Firebird Arts &am ...more

Other books in the series

Valdemar: Mage Wars (3 books)
  • The White Gryphon (Valdemar: Mage Wars, #2)
  • The Silver Gryphon (Valdemar: Mage Wars, #3)
“You are human and mortal; we are the sum of our weak moments and our strong.” 85 likes
“Inexperience can be overcome, ignorance can be enlightened, but prejudice will destroy you.” 72 likes
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