Book Review and Giveaway: The Greyfriar (Vampire Empire, Book 1)

Posted by 23rd November 2010

The Greyfriar (Vampire Empire, Book 1)  by Clay and Susan Griffith

I'm going to guess that when some readers see "Vampire Empire, Book 1," they are going to roll their eyes and dismiss The Greyfriar as another vampire romance novel. And while they would not be entirely wrong (there is romance, and there are vampires), the world that Clay and Susan Griffith build in The Greyfriar is very different than the sparkly benevolence that characterizes that sort of book.

In the Vampire Empire series, vampires are not made, but born. It's a separate race entirely (homo nosferatii), one which is long-lived (although not immortal) with diminished touch sensitivity, the ability to ride air currents, and an intolerance to heat (not sunlight). In 1870, vampires invaded the northern cities and overpowered humans, sending the Victorian-era humans south toward warmer climates where the vampires couldn't follow. Europe, Canada and northern Asia became a land of vampires.

When The Greyfriar begins, it is 2020, and the world is a very different place. The former British Empire is now the Equatorial Empire, based in Alexandria, and Princess Adele is the heir apparent. On a trip northward, her ship is attacked near Marseilles, and thus begins Adele's adventures with The Greyfriar, a vigilante vampire hunter protecting the remnants of human civilization in the north.

While some parts of The Greyfriar can be predictable (will sparks fly between the strong-willed princess and the mysterious masked man? Will Adele's arranged marriage to an American senator lead to court intrigue? Will the human-vampire conflict escalate? Yes!), the surroundings are new and fascinating. The steampunk genre has lent itself easily to a blending of cultures and The Greyfriar illustrates this in its Equatorial Empire. Zulu, Japanese, Persian and Indian influences on European Victorians make for a wonderful melting pot of concepts and design. The Americans, caught in a Wild West era of vampire hunting, bring conflict of their own as the humans try to join forces against the vampires. And the Vampire Empire itself, with a dying old king and a rivalry between two brothers amongst the ruins of human habitation, creates its own storylines that the Griffiths can explore in future books.

Adele is a refreshing heroine — a strong woman who fights well, is fiercely protective of her young brother, and thinks on her feet — and there are hints of mysticism in the use of ley lines to avoid vampires and the secret cabal working to train Adele behind the scenes. The Greyfriar's identity is revealed in this first book in the Vampire Empire series, but the books to come promise many more secrets to be revealed.

(Additional info at Pyr's website)

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 And now, you have a chance to win a copy of The Greyfriar! To be considered, post a comment below, and tell us the following:

In the Vampire Empire, humans live mostly south of the Equator, vampires to the north. What city would you want to live in? (Keep in mind that if you live in the north, you may be fending off vampires — or would you be a vampire and not a human, if you had your druthers?)

The deadline is Friday, December 10. Good luck!

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