Inspiring and Utterly Brilliant Storytelling
— London, England
"Eagerly awaited sequel to The Orphans of Carmarthen, Vault of the Griffin re-introduces the reader to fifth-century Britain. A fantastic descent into the bowels of the cavernous empire of the White Griffin, Baker´s latest novel is a devastatingly candid and brilliant commentary on human nature. The pastoral countryside of Wales is painted in broad and exceptional vistas, the author skillfully employing language to exemplify the struggle between great concepts of ideology and theology, most capably illustrated against a backdrop of poverty and classical mythology. Once again, this internationally acclaimed writer validates his reputation as a master of literary exposition."
— Ruth Ryland
CORO Fellow 1991 - 1992
The second novel in the Carmarthen trilogy, Vault of the Griffin takes up again the exploits of Myrddin Emrys, stray child of the vale of Towy. Introduced in the first novel, The Orphans of Carmarthen, he, along with his dog, faces the challenges presented in post-Roman Wales. Confronted with a realm of superstition, dragons, and sorcery; the pair try to endure as best they can outside the influence of civilisation; where only an ancient Banfáith witch takes any interest in their survival.
"W. B. Baker surpasses himself with the creation of an entirely believable, functional religion of the Banfáith Witches, demonstrating not only a masterful command of the English language, but revealing astounding insight into theoretical theology. Within the realm of conceptual mythology this writer is, conspicuously, one of the most intuitive authors of the genre."
"Idyllic conceptual thinking; imparted in a beautiful tale of a boy and his little dog. Emotions envelop the reader completely and swathe one´s consciousness with the realization that, on the odd occasion, grandeur and brilliance of sentiment lie far beyond our ability to express. Vault of the Griffin is one of those rare, exceptional examples."
— Lazaro Espinoza
"As soon as the lad had submerged under the surface, he started crawling frantically through the fluff toward the fissure on the border, arriving there just as the weight of the griffin landed in the centre and tried to stomp the very life out of him. Emrys wriggled through the fissure at the edge, as the massive neck hurled its mighty weapon into the down; snapping blindly shut with the hope that the megalithic beast might yet catch the thief within its nest.
By the time the griffin finished threshing the feathered pallet apart and raised its head a second time for a better look about, the lad had already scooted through the flaw in the nest and was halfway across the clearing. Running for his life, trying to dart about like a rat or vole amidst the cracked towers of crystal, Emrys made a frantic dash for the tiny fissure he had spied within the sandstone wall.
Enraged, the behemoth leapt upon the rim of the crystal parapet and vaulted twice its entire body length in a single leap, snapping its savage beak closed upon feeble shards of crystal only inches from the boy. Emrys dove headfirst into the cavity just as the powerful serrated beak managed to clear the rock formation and snap shut; slicing through the crystal like a cleaver and just glancing off Emrys’ left leg. The boy screamed in agony as the zigzag edge of the bill caught the slackness of his skin, though he could not even hear his own shriek for the one emitted from the griffin as it realised that it had narrowly missed its prey."
Vault of the Griffin is based upon the actual legends and ancient superstitions of Carmarthen, W