Book Review #22: Greyfriar by Clay and Susan Griffith

Greyfriar CoverTitle: The Greyfriar (Book One of the Vampire Empire Series)
Author: Clay and Susan Griffith
Publisher: PYR
Release Date: 1 November 2010
Available Formats: ebook, trade paperback

One of the series that PYR has released that I’ve been interested in for a while was the Vampire Empire series. I like vampires that are not emotive, wimpy caricatures of the dark creatures that scared me as a child. I don’t mind a good vampire now and again, but the overall trend of “Twilighting” them has left me cold of late. I’m a fan of steampunk and when I read the synopsis of a steampunk vampire novel, I was hooked.

So, on to the review.

Synopsis: In the year 1870, a horrible plague of vampires swept over the northern regions of the world. Millions of humans were killed outright. Millions more died of disease and famine due to the havoc that followed. Within two years, once-great cities were shrouded by the gray empire of the vampire clans. Human refugees fled south to the tropics because vampires could not tolerate the constant heat there. They brought technology and a feverish drive to reestablish their shattered societies of steam and iron amid the mosques of Alexandria, the torrid quietude of Panama, or the green temples of Malaya.

It is now 2020 and a bloody reckoning is coming.

Princess Adele is heir to the Empire of Equatoria, a remnant of the old tropical British Empire. She is quick with her wit as well as with a sword or gun. She is eager for an adventure before she settles into a life of duty and political marriage to a man she does not know. But her quest turns black when she becomes the target of a merciless vampire clan. Her only protector is the Greyfriar, a mysterious hero who fights the vampires from deep within their territory. Their dangerous relationship plays out against an approaching war to the death between humankind and the vampire clans.

Vampire Empire: The Greyfriar is the first book in a trilogy of high adventure and alternate history. Combining rousing pulp action with steampunk style, Vampire Empire brings epic political themes to life within a story of heartbreaking romance, sacrifice, and heroism.(Stolen from PYR’s website)

Setting: As the synopsis states, this is an alternate history of our current world. The setting of this first book in the trilogy takes place in several well known earth cities. I especially liked the time spent in Scotland at Greyfriar’s castle. Travel is accomplished by boat, foot and dirigible. Swords are still used in the 21st century. Much of our known sciences are nonexistant in the world the Griffith’s have created, or have been retarded due to the influx of the vampire menace. Steam is still at the height of technology and the world seems a bit larger and more isolated than the one we know today.

Plot: The Princess Adele, in an act of self sacrificing heroism has been separated from her human escort and is being in danger of a horrific death at the hands of vampires when she is rescued by the mysterious hero, Greyfriar. It is hard to say much more about the plot without spoiling some of the story. Suffice it to say, I think most adult readers will have figured out much of what is going on before things are revealed in the story. I will go on record as saying that this really mattered little to me in terms of whether I enjoyed the story or not.

Characters: In this first book of the series, we are introduced to Adele, Greyfriar and Prince Gareth, the vampire prince that chooses to go against his breeding in an effort to be more than his nature would dictate. Adele and Gareth are both well written and will have readers cheering them on from scene to scene.

Odin’s recommendation: I did enjoy The Greyfriar and will say that I think PYR has made another excellent addition to it’s catalog. I was a bit disappointed upon discovering that The Greyfriar was yet another vampire love story, however, it isn’t in the same vein (sorry.. couldn’t resist) as much of the pulp that is enthralling readers today. I enjoyed the issues the authors required the characters to face and the way the storyline progressed in what I will characterize as a logical way. Also, these vampires are not the vampires of our earth’s legends, though there are many similarities. If you like vampires and can appreciate that occasionally one might crave redemption, go out and buy a copy of The Greyfriar. You won’t be disappointed.

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