Wednesday, June 5, 2013

Vampire Empire: The Greyfriar review

The Greyfriar (Vampire Empire, #1)

I won the Vampire Empire trilogy by Clay and Susan Griffith at RT last month and since book one, The Greyfriar, was already on my to-read list, I was stoked. I'm just getting into steampunk and have been incredibly fascinated by the different versions that the few writers I've read have built.

The world of the Vampire Empire is no exception. It's a richly detailed world that is simultaneously familiar and alien. The vampires are also both similar and yet different from those of myth and current popular culture. The three human empires that have consolidated out of the ruins of war are recognizable to anyone who has read George Orwell's 1984 - without the politics of that author. But there are politics in The Greyfriar, in fact politics underpin the entire plot and every action taken by several of the main characters.

I did not realize the series was YA which gave me pause for a moment but I was able to overlook it as the fact that Adele, the female protagonist, is a teenager was much less important than the fact that she is the heir to the Equatorial Empire. Adele's first born royal status and her commitment to her duties as the future ruler completely overshadow anything about her personality at first but she learns and grows as the book moves forward like any good character.

The Greyfriar is a wonderful and fascinating character but I'm unsure how no one in the world of the book has figured out, if not exactly who, at least what he is. As Adele notes when she is told, it seems fairly obvious but I suppose if it isn't a mystery, half the plot doesn't work.

The politicians in the book are fairly the worst stereotypes of politicians and yet it works well in the setting and plot. It took great skill in the writing to keep them from tipping into farcical caricature but the Griffiths do so masterfully. The same is true for the villainous vampires - the Griffiths nimbly walk the line between gruesome, blood sucking but intelligent monsters and gratuitous horror. 

Overall, I definitely enjoyed The Greyfriar and am looking forward to the second book in the Vampire Empire series.


Vampire predators run wild in this exciting steampunk adventure, the first in an alternate history trilogy that is already attracting attention. In 1870, monsters rise up and conquer the northern lands, As great cities are swallowed up by carnage and disease, landowners and other elite flee south to escape their blood-thirsty wrath.

One hundred fifty years later, the great divide still exists; fangs on one side of the border, worried defenders on the other. This fragile equilibrium is threatened, then crumbles after a single young princess becomes almost hopelessly lost in the hostile territory. At first, she has only one defender—a mysterious Greyfriar who roams freely in dangerous vampire regions.

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