So the book begins with a new rotation of vet students being rounded up to make trips into fantasyland:
FRIEDA, the anxious one with low self-esteem
VALERIE, the angry black one
CODY, the cheerful disabled one
MATT, the perfect white boy who's dead inside
We're not going to spend too much time with any of these kids except Frieda, so don't get too attached.
Meanwhile, let's check in with the rest of our cast:
THE GRIFFIN: settled in West Virginia in domestic bliss with his human anesthesiologist love interest, really into leading war games on the Internet
STEIN THE HOLOCAUST SURVIVOR: still running the Only Crossroads Inn
HOT TOPIC FIONA: recovering from trauma at the Only Crossroads Inn
STEFAN THE FAUN: splitting time between vet school and making out with BJ
DASHING GAY DR. ESTEVAN PROTERA: aside from one amazing fancy dinner party with the Griffin early on, tragically not appearing in this book
Our Heroine BJ: now the Goddess of Crossroads and is responsible for bringing species back to this magical paradise!
The first magical species she has rescued is ... a non-intelligent and massively rapidly-reproducing sort of flying rabbit! She calls them dumbos.
A new scientist character is here introduced for the sole purpose of explaining to BJ that when you introduce a rapidly-expanding invasive population, you also probably should introduce a predator species to thin the population. So BJ goes off on a quest to find a predator species! Accompanied by a medieval mercenary named Dyvedd leftover from the last invasion whom she found chopping trees with a giant sword.
BJ: Look at these giant weasel-dogs wandering forlornly around a sinister nearly-dead landscape! These seem cute.
DYVEDD: They give me the creeps.
BJ: AS GOD OF CROSSROADS, I DECREE -- Crossroads is adopting these giant weasel-dogs to control the dumbo population! They are my second new species. :D
DYVEDD: Um, I'm a medieval mercenary who doesn't know anything about science and yet even I have con-
BJ: Shhhh, I'm on a roll here.
In addition to importing rapidly-reproducing prey species and completely unknown predator species, BJ also has her hands full finding all the other species that need to get back into Crossroads, because it turns out magical creatures do not reproduce well outside of magical environments.
She also takes on a part-time tutoring gig!
THE GRIFFIN: BJ, as all the males of my species are haughty garbage heaps with a huge complex about their embarrassing chimera liaison, I would like you to teach my son human ethics.
BJ: ....your son is one month old.
THE GRIFFIN: And speaks twelve languages!
(For the record, this is the Griffin's son from an embarrassing chimera liaison, not a half-human half-griffin. The Griffin's girlfriend is cool with it, she understands they're an endangered species.)
Anyway pretty soon the baby griffin starts bringing his BFF around for tutoring, and they dub themselves Roland and Oliver and LARP out Epic Quests and Battles and have Serious Conversations About Ethics, and it's adorable, and then they bring all their other baby griffin buddies around for a checkup and they all name themselves things like Arthur and Gilgamesh and Clark Kent and it's TOO CUTE FOR WORDS.
The checkup is conducted by the new vet students, by the way! Bet you forgot about them, didn't you. But Nick O'Donohoe didn't, because Baby Griffin Roland meets Frieda the Anxious Vet Student and is SMITTEN.
THE GRIFFIN: ....
BABY GRIFFIN ROLAND: I learned it from you, Dad! I learned it from you.
BJ: Frieda, how do you feel about your new two-month-old griffin friend?
FRIEDA: I admire Roland! He's so awfully noble!
ROLAND: Pardon me, I have to wander off and brood about how griffins are fearsome beasts who could eviscerate a fragile, gentle human with a single talon-stroke.
FRIEDA: Oh, but I know you would never hurt me!
BJ: ...well OK then!
But BJ does not have time to worry about her student's relationship problems, because she NOW has to go lead a war party to rescue the centaurs, who have been caught by slavers in their couple months away from Crossroads!
Everyone volunteers to help, including Frieda, Hot Topic Fiona, Medieval Mercenary Dyvedd, AND the baby griffins ... which ends up leading to some challenges.
BABY GRIFFIN ROLAND: So, we captured all the slavers for you! :D
BJ: ... you were supposed to be a diversion while we ran away with the centaurs ....
BABY GRIFFIN ROLAND: Yes but once we had them in a rout we felt the only honorable thing to do was to offer them a full surrender and they said sure! :D
BABY GRIFFIN ROLAND: So I guess now the centaurs can kill them if they want to? :D Or accept their fealty? :D It's pretty much up to you guys. :D :D :D
POLYTA, LEADER OF THE CENTAURS: I cannot believe you made me responsible for these human slaver piles of garbage.
But Polyta begrudgingly accepts the fealty of the human slaver piles of garbage, and they all gallop offscreen until the final battle which will happen a while later, because we now have some MORE plots to deal with. First of all, BJ is pregnant!
BJ'S NON-STEFAN FAUN FRIEND: Aw, BJ, that's great! You should be prepped for a fast pregnancy though.
BJ: Like how fast?
BJ'S NON-STEFAN FAUN FRIEND: Oh, very fast! Fauns mature very rapidly.
BJ: But let's talk about you. How are things going with you? Have you hooked up with your cute local pastor yet?
BJ'S NON-STEFAN FAUN FRIEND: Oh, no, he's much too old for me! :D
BJ: ...he's like my age....
BJ'S NON-STEFAN FAUN FRIEND: Oh well maybe the age difference works OK for you and Stefan, I wouldn't judge, but ....
BJ: .....how old are you and Stefan?
BJ'S NON-STEFAN FAUN FRIEND: Oh, we are five! Five years old is what we are. :D
BJ: .........oh, boy. Oh, boy. I thought he was just a manic pixie dream boy! The father of my child is FIVE YEARS OLD? Oh .... oh boy.
And indeed, a month later, when a tragically mutilated unicorn is cared to her door, BJ is way too pregnant to perform surgery alone! Fortunately there is a rotation of baby vet students on hand to help her out.
FRIEDA, VALERIE, AND CODY: Heck yeah we are ready to perform major life-saving surgery on a unicorn!
MATT: I think we should put it down.
FRIEDA, VALERIE AND CODY: Literally nobody asked you, you useless sociopathic white boy.
And that's the end of Matt's plot arc!
So now BJ spends some time stressing out about who could be mutilating unicorns! Is it Hot Topic Fiona? Medieval Mercenary Dafydd?
HOT TOPIC FIONA: Did I ever tell you my suspicions about your creepy giant weasel-dogs?
BJ: NOTHING IS CREEPY ABOUT MY GIANT WEASEL-DOGS. They are JUST THINNING THE POPULATION. >:(
While stressing about this, BJ heads back to West Virginia, and has a terrible dinner with Frieda's emotionally abusive parents. In fact the dinner is SO terrible that it triggers BJ's labor!
BJ names her half-faun baby Laurel and heads back to Crossroads for the final showdown, which is triggered when BJ takes a trip to the Isle of the Dodos for reasons I can't remember right now.
BJ: Are these ... mutilated dodos ..... dressed up like lawn flamingos?
GIANT WEASEL-DOGS: lol yeah we thought that was hilarious
BJ: ...... in retrospect, I should have seen this coming
GIANT WEASEL-DOGS: Did you see the dead dodos we arranged into a mini-golf course? CLASSIC! :D :D :D
Medieval Mercenary Dyvedd: Given that literally everyone told you they were creepy, yeah, you really should have.
GIANT WEASEL-DOGS: Anyway we're going to kill you all now in wildly entertaining ways, it'll be great!
AND THEN IT'S TIME FOR A FINAL BATTLE. It's OK -- thanks to the help of the centaurs, the former slavers, Freida's mysteriously good riding skills, and a surprise assist from the adult griffins to bail their kids out of a bad situation, nobody dies this time except the chief of the former slavers ... and Clark Kent the baby griffin. :( Pour one out.
BJ: Well, it seems like I have been making a series of poor decisions regarding species integration in Crossroads.
THE GRIFFIN: Yes, but I have a solution! You're doing OK as a mother goddess, but Crossroads needs someone to make HARD MILITARY DECISIONS. Crossroads needs ... a KING. And I have the perfect candidate!
BJ: Who's that?
THE GRIFFIN: My son is who! Why do you think I asked you to spend all that time teaching him human ethics?
So they make three-month-old baby griffin Roland the new king of Crossroads, by unanimous vote! Everyone is fine with this. I mock, but to be honest I would probably vote for a three-month-old baby griffin in a popular election as well.
This closes the main plot, such as it is, but there's still a few loose ends to wrap up. Mostly to do with who's going to make out with whom.
MEDIEVAL MERCENARY DYVEDD: Hot Topic Fiona and I are hooking up!
HOT TOPIC FIONA: Despite what you may have assumed from all the Wicca and womyn power, it turns out I'm not a lesbian after all.
VET STUDENT VALERIE: Vet Student Cody and I are also hooking up!
VALERIE: What, you have a problem with interracial couples?
BJ: Oh, no, it's just that this literally has not been foreshadowed on a single page in this book.
VET STUDENT CODY: Yeah, well, that's probably because we've barely been in the book. Our romance would've been adorable had it been on-page!
FRIEDA: Well, I guess I will go home .... to my depression and anxiety and horrible parents .... and never see Roland again ........
BJ: Or! Alternate plan, you could come be my vet assistant if you want!
FRIEDA: oh my gosh YES PLEASE YES *___*
STEFAN: So BJ! We have a beautiful daughter! Are we going to get married? :D?
BJ: No, no, buddy. Buddy, we are breaking up.
BJ: First of all, you never told me about being five. Second of all, you are five.
STEFAN: Fauns grow up fast! And we were so happy together!
BJ: Yup, we were, but now it is super weird and we are never having sex again.
Which, honestly, I kind of respect as an authorial choice! It is maybe the only time I've seen someone look at a magical maturity gap in a fantasy novel and go 'nope, this makes me uncomfortable and is not for me!'
(....but Frieda is dating a three-month-old griffin and nobody thinks that's weird at all. I'm just saying.)
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