Not at all what I expected but wonderful nonetheless. I expected a romantic element which wasn't there as this was straight fantasy. It was a brutal story on all fronts. I found tears in my eyes more than once and felt strongly for both Arren and Darkheart. The black griffin was repeatedly tortured (think cock fights) and Arren was brutalized again and again. It was rather disturbing for this romance reader. I kept expecting it to turn around but sadly it didn't and the story was heartbreaking all the way to the end. I must admit to loving the ending, when Arren and Skandar got their revenge...brilliant! I can't wait to pickup The Griffin's Flight and continue their scary and dangerous adventures.