Monday, October 13, 2008

Talia Gryphon 'Key to Conflict'

Picked this up from the library, our heroine is a US Marine Corp Captain and a paramortal psychologist (she treats the mental illnesses of non-humans.) Our hero, well that's not entirely clear, but we know at least that he is a Romanian vampire. Gillian goes to Romania to help a vampire lord deal with his unresolved feelings over his fiance's betrayal and his rebirth as a vampire 400 years ago. She gets caught in the crossfire when Dracula picks this moment to decide to take over the world, because Count Aleksei is on the top of Dracula's hit list.

The set up is fine, world building is decent and I liked the book for a while. Gillian spends the first two thirds of the book being protected by Aleksei and his family. During this section it is pounded into us that vampires are out of human league as fighters, Gillian couldn't possibly defend herself, etc. When she finally runs away from Alexsei's protection (is this a smart move) she assembles her old comrades in arms, and heads off to rescue Aleksei's brother from Dracula. They have a ridiculously easy time doing the rescue, and so Aleksei has to admit that she's extremely competent. What?

Throughout the book we are told over and over and over about how great she is as an operative, as an empath and as a psychologist, but she keeps losing her temper and yelling at everyone, wandering off into the forest and the pyramids and barely surviving, generally having to be rescued by someone. I couldn't help comparing her to Patricia Briggs' tough girl characters who know their limits, and use that knowledge to survive and even win in tough situations.

Ugh, this book is 150 pages too long and runs out of ways to describe each successive male character's beyond amazing physique and looks. Boring. I believe this is a first book for this author. I wouldn't buy her second book, but maybe a fourth or a fifth. There were some reasons to hold out hope.

Paranormal Urban Romance 2007: 1 out of 5 tawdry togs for tasty trollops.


Katerina said...

Man, I wish I had stumbled onto this site earlier....I made the mistake of buying Gryphon's first two books...terrible!

They definitely smack of Laurell K. Hamilton (the latter, crappier books)--which doesn't surprise me, as Gryphon has a quote from LKH on each of her first two books. (I'm not buying the third and have plans to trade the books/give them to my dog to chew on).

The Big Screamin' Comparisons to LKH's books:

-Almost every guy wants her.
-She has relationship/commitment hang-ups.

-Everybody is gorgeous (god, can I just have ONE average-looking vampire/elf/werewolf/were-whatever! And no, a half-scarred/half-gorgeous one doesn't count).

-She goes from kick-ass to vulnerable in a bipolar way.

-Th secondary characters are also annoying, whiny, and sex-minded.

-The writing is sucky and jerky (yes, those are technical terms).

The main character is annoying, unprofessional...and quite frankly sucks as both a soldier (A commander?! Seriously?!) and a psychologist.

This is a "kitchen-sink" book. Gryphon throws in bits and pieces from her "research" (which I suspect was a 30 minute FOX docu-drama on some war) and from other paranormal romances that she's read in the past.

This is bad bad bad fan fiction.
Could this be one of LKH's secret aliases? I wonder...

(Sorry for the rant, I needed to get it out of my system).


Katerina said...

OMG! I just stumbled onto another review:

"By BevQB May 5th, 2008 at 9:29 am

As I understand it, Talia Gryphon is a friend of LKH’s PA, Darla Cook, and that LKH was, to some extent, Talia’s mentor. I really don’t know the extent of the mentoring. I know Talia was supposed to accompany LKH to the RT Con in Daytona but couldn’t at the last minute because of work related issues (her PA had an accident at the last minute and also couldn’t accompany her).

I don’t believe LKH ever mentioned her first book when it came out, but I know Darla pimped it. I admit I was going to read it (Key to Conflict) out of curiosity- the blurb DOES sound interesting- but the reviews were so vicious that I didn’t waste my time. Although a few reviews DID say that it was worth reading because it was entertaining in its awfulness. I guess kind of like those old 50’s sci-fi movies are so bad they’re good."

Yes, I admit that this could be just a rumour....but the writing speaks for itself!


Anonymous said...

Oh thank god... I'm glad I'm not the only one who had severe problems with the credibility factor of this book. I mean, don't get me wrong - I like kick-ass heroines. But Ms Gryphon? I think your Mary-Sue-slip is showing.

I don't often quit on books I've started - generally, if I start them, I finish them.

But this one? By p20 I was promising myself that if it hadn't gotten any better by p100, I could bow out honourably; and then by p27 I'd lost all patience.

Ummm, yeah. Wow. This is one scarily bad book!