In the homeland of the elves, Mythwyll, located in the western part of Ontyre, all is not well. Where for generations the elves made their home, death at the hands of humans has ravaged the lands and surviving elves are on the run. It is in this grim situation that we find ourselves following the desperate escape of M’Ameth and her brother L’Wreel in a short story called Grypon Gray, written by Christina Hawthorne.
Christina Hawthorne is a writer that I have gotten to know through the monthly Writing Challenge on Twitter. A constant cheerleader of the rest of us punching away at our keyboards month in and month out, she’s a positive and thoughtful influence for all those who aim to finish their stories. Yet, throughout all these months of interacting with her on Twitter, it wasn’t until she posted Grypon Gray that I realized that I hadn’t read any of her work yet. In hindsight, this was clearly a terrible oversight. Despite this oversight, the one thing I have seen on multiple occasions are here intricate, handcrafted maps of the worlds she has created for her stories. I had a feeling that her stories would be as expertly crafted as her maps.
I was right and once I completed the story I felt that it was only right that I take a moment and share my thoughts on this carefully crated tale.
We join the story of the two siblings M’Ameth and L’Wreel, on the run from the violence committed on their people. As we follow them on a journey to the top of a mountain peak, we are almost immediately caught up in the emotional struggle M’Ameth finds herself in as the dark, violent circumstances come closing in on her and her brother. There is uncertainty and fear in what the future holds yet confidence because her brother, L’Wreel, is watching over her, as he’s always done. She knows he’ll take care of her. His promise, even in that dark hour, is that they will always be together.
As they struggle towards the top, led by the brave L’Wreel, M’Ameth must face some of her dark past. Prompted by her brother, she must act on what to her has been forbidden for many years, acts that previously caused a great deal of pain for her and her people. Although she faults her brother for pushing her towards what she clearly doesn’t want nor desire, when they reach the top of the peak and the song long ago rebuked rolls over her lips, his purpose is suddenly clear. Out of the clouds appears the great gryphon, a majestic beast of the sky, summoned by her song, summoned for her.
Within moments, M’Ameth’s existence changes. From being the fearful sister of a great hero, she’s riding away into the distance, her future intertwined with the mighty gryphon, her past fading with the self sacrifice of her brother, left to fend of their pursuers.
It’s hard to express exactly how I feel about Gryphon Gray. There are so many things about this story that stands out to me. The setting, first of all, is well defined throughout the story, through the eyes of the characters as well as their memories. It’s a land with a lot of sacred history, a land which has suffered and bled. There’s an emotional attachment to the lands of the elves. Add to that the visual of the map included with the post (also seen above) and you get a pretty good idea of the setting the story is taking place in.
The emotional toll the turmoil has taken on them, especially M’Ameth, is on full display and you can’t help but empathize with her, with the conflicting emotions she struggles through. L’Wreel is on the opposite side of the emotional spectrum. The brother who knows exactly what needs to be done even if it’ll cost him his own life, he moves them forward while at the same time he provides the emotional support his sister needs. At the end of the story, you really feel a lot closer to both of them and in the end, this emotional drama is the strength of this story.
There’s so much more I could say. For example, after I completed the story I felt as if I had just read a novel. Christina manages to spin an tale so full of information without shoving it down your throat that not only do you get a good feel for what’s going on in that moment in the story but the past is also defined and the future, although distant, is also clear. She does all of this without effort. All of this leaves me wanting more from this world Christina has created and I can only say that I’m looking forward to reading other tales that takes place in Ontyre.
Finally: if you’re at all into fantasy or simply want to read a carefully crafted tale, you need to read Gryphon Gray. Today. While you’re at it, check out Christina’s website and by all means, join us all on Twitter as we cheer each other on.