The Seagriff Chronicles is a very popular epic fantasy series in somewhat the same "vein" as Sir John R.R.Tolkien's Lord of the Rings. They have proven to be international bestsellers, translated in well over a dozen languages. As a direct result of this, the author has become a wealthy man based on sales as well as optioning film rights and licensing the works for graphic novels.
The author is an American named Richard Nathan Darknell (born 1960), a former actor and theatrical director. His father was a Chief Petty Officer in the Solemn League Navy but his mother was from San Francisco. The couple moved to Savannah, Jacobia when Richard was five. He attended school in New Amsterdam and later moved to Ontario.
He wrote numerous plays in his early years, but in his forties began work on a fantasy series which became The Seagriff Chronicles.
Darknell's series takes place in a mythical land named either Dwirion or Duirien (depending upon who you are speaking with). Two races call it home. The Qath (or Kathlings) live in Upper Dwirion, whereas the Gwirish (or Guira) dominate Lower Dwirion. A long river named the Avalla begins in the northernmost part of Dwirion, in the Worldwall Mountains, and ends in the southernmost delta region of the Saltwash. Darknell has openly said his "Two Kingdoms" was suggested by Egypt. The seagriff of the title is the royal sigil of the Kathling dynasty that has ruled Dwirion for the past three centuries. It is something like a sea dragon, but fully sentient and sometimes the wielder of many powers. Isolated coastal cults worship seagriffs as gods. Mostly, however, Kathlings worship a single deity they call the Allfather, while Gwirish worship a pantheon of twelve "Young Gods" (successors to the "Old" or "Blood" gods who were made to sleep for the current age of the world).
The Chronicles themselves consist of a trilogy and several books he calls "ancillary" works. The trilogy is:
- Griffin Summer (1994) is about the simmering rivalries within Dwirion's royal family that break out into civil war. The title partially refers to the Griffin Guard, an order of hand-picked warriors under the direct authority of the Heir Apparent. Under the influence of the his new bride, Prince Joam raises his banner to try and unseat his father, King Moreal Deathfist (so named when he killed his mother's lover in a single blow). Along the way, Prince Joam's sister's fiancee is assassinated.
- Basilisk Autumn(1996) is from the point of view of a female jester trapped with Prince Joam and his troops inside a virtually impregnable castle, undergoing a siege. Thyrah, the jester, has begun to fall in love with the prince and slowly begins to learn the truth about Joam's bride, Fiendre, and the source of her powers, while a small cadre of mages works with Fiendre to bring forth a basilisk for some mysterious purpose.
- Unicorn Winter(1999) takes place on an island where a convent holds a secret archive, and Prince Loro (Joam's youngest brother) comes there in search of his dynasty's origins in hopes of defeating Joam's horrific warriors. Among other things, he discover's Fiendre's true father is Jaraq the Avenger--the ghost of a man much wronged by Moreal's father, and who has haunted the Fiendre since she was an infant.
Darknell has written two other books set in the Seagriff world. The Blood-Stained Keep (2001) is a prequel of sorts, mostly concerning Fiendre's birth months after the terrible rebellion by Jaraq the Avenger. Its main character is a Gwirish woman wedded to a Kathling lord given a castle with a strange history behind it (lovers from feuding clans were murdered outside the castle, and gods in sympathy made their blood stain anything built there red). The Jagged Path (2004) is about a young runaway in the wake of Joam's War, who finds himself on a quest to find a shrine hidden somewhere in a labyrinth of rock and water called The Maw.
Other books in the series are supposadely in the works.