The Gryphon

The GryphonSummary: Griffin & Sabine, Sabine’s Notebook, and The Golden Mean have sold over 3 million copies worldwide, and spent over 100 weeks on The New York Times best-seller list. At long last, Nick Bantock brings us a new volume in the Griffin and Sabine story. The Gryphon is a tale rich in the artistry, mystery, and surprise that make the original saga so beloved. Although readers will be drawn into the book without ever having read the trilogy, The Gryphon begins to answer the question that fans have been waiting eight years to answer: “What happened to Griffin and Sabine?” As their remarkable fates are gradually revealed, we are introduced to Matthew and Isabella, long-distance lovers who find themselves entwined not only in each other’s lives, but also in a perilous and alluring intrigue. The drama literally unfolds from postcard to richly decorated postcard and as provocative letters are pulled from real envelopes. The Gryphon features stunning new imagery, offering glimpses of mythic dreamscapes and surreal creatures as only Nick Bantock could have imagined. For those meeting Griffin and Sabine for the first time, here’s an introduction that will have them yearning to explore the earlier volumes. And for those who have already entered the enchanting world of Griffin and Sabine, The Gryphon is a delightful rediscovery of a truly extraordinary correspondence.

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The Gryphon, by Nick Bantock 8.0

“Isabella: The parcel did contain something unusual…65 cards and letters, the massed correspondence between Sabine and a man called Griffin Moss. It’s odd stuff. I’m trying to decide if I’ve encountered an elaborate fiction, or a series of events that, if true, cast doubt over any concept of reality I’ve ever held.” – Matthew

Ten years after the release of the critically-acclaimed ‘Griffin and Sabine’, and eight years after the trilogy’s conclusion with ‘The Golden Mean‘, Nick Bantock returned to the tale with a new set of epistolary books: ‘The Morningstar Trilogy’. The first of these is ‘The Gryphon’.

‘The Gryphon’ (which is subtitled “In Which the Extraordinary Correspondence of Griffin and Sabine is Rediscovered”), starts where ‘The Golden Mean’ ended: with a postcard from Sabine to an archeologist named Matthew Sedon, who works in Egypt.

This time, the correspondences don’t just go two-ways – they take place between four people: Sabine, Griffin, Matthew and his paramour Isabella, who lives in Paris. This means quite a few more possible permutations and, thus, more insight into the characters.

The story is a bit esoteric, with Sabine making certain claims to Matthew that leave him -and us- bewildered, but the story doesn’t entirely hinge on her. What’s great about ‘The Gryphon’ is that it can be read without knowing the first trilogy, by virtue of Matthew and Isabella’s exchanges.

(Granted, it might help to read the originals, but it’s actually unnecessary – an excellent touch by Bantock.)

As per usual, the artwork is phenomenal; the postcard and letter reproductions are quite impressive. Unfortunately, since fewer of them are from Griffin and Sabine, artists in their own right, many are merely typical postcard and stamps – nothing particularly innovative.

But it remains quite a pleasing oeuvre, which no doubt required much attention from Bantock.

My only real issue is that Griffin’s penmanship resembles all too closely Sabine’s. In the original books, he mostly typed his correspondence, but, when he didn’t, he wrote in block letters. Here he writes in a scrawl that is very much like Sabine’s. Is that intentional, or an oversight?

And, if it’s intentional, what does it mean?

I hope that the next few books will answer that question. If they do, then I will be rather impressed. Because, as a whole, this book is far more consistent than most of the original set. It’s not as mysterious, or nearly as engaging, but it’s quite fascinating nonetheless .

Truth be told, I truly look forward to knowing what is expected of Matthew and Isabella. What will their part be in this battle against Fratelli’s angels, I wonder…? There’s some sort of metaphysical battle preparing itself and I yearn to read more about it. What is going on? And what are the stakes?

We’ll soon find out, in ‘Alexandria’.

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