Year of the Griffin is the sequel to Dark Lord of Derkholm, and takes place 8 years after Mr. Chesney’s tours have ended. Wizard Derk’s youngest daughter, Elda, is now at the Wizard’s University and finding her talons full of magical mayhem. The university itself is in dire financial straits. Now that the tours have stopped, along with Mr. Chesney’s payments, the university has considerably less money than it is used to, and turns to its students’ parents for aid. Unfortunately, these aren’t typical students with proud parents, and a number are on the run from their families. When the letters reach their homes, the students find themselves battling trained assassins and pirates, to say nothing of ineffable grading curves, incompetent professors, inedible refectory food, heartbreak, and renegade griffins.
Less complex than its predecessor, Year of the Griffin is still a highly entertaining spoof on the boarding school trope. Jones continues to write characters that are well-drawn and complex, particularly Corkoran and Elda. Jones’ gently comments on the arrogance of academia (particularly the research professors that don’t enjoy teaching), racism, classism, and the perils of growing up and away from one’s family. Highly readable and strongly recommended.