Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Review: The Greyfriar

The Greyfriar
Clay Griffith & Susan Griffith
Steampunk/Urban Fantasy
Vampire Empire Trilogy/Book 1
Pyr/November 18, 2010

From the back cover ~

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 grey 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.


Princess Adele is heir to the Empire 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 form the deep within their territory. Their dangerous relationship plays out against an approaching war to the death between humankind and the vampire clans.

Why, oh why, did I wait so long to read this amazing book?! The story started off a little slow but once I got into it, I didn't want to stop. I was sucked in to this fascinating world of vampires and princesses, airships and sword fights. The world building blew me away. It's beautiful in it's intensity. I don't have much experience with steampunk but if this is any example, I will certainty be searching for more.

Princess Adele is on journey before she settles into wedded bliss or at the least, a mutual respect of her intended. When we first meet Adele, you can tell she is intelligent and curious, with a great sense of family and duty. She also has a darker side that comes out when vampires attack. She is not one to sit on the sidelines and hope to be rescued. In this world, you need to know how to defend yourself.

It's during one of these attacks that Adele meets the infamous Greyfriar. He is part legend and part mystery with a dash of elegance thrown in. He's also wicked quick with swords and guns. Adele is left with no choice but to take the help Greyfriar offers. They are an unlikely pair who have more in common than they think. The two are written in such a way as to play off each other. With Adele not fully trusting Greyfriar but coming to rely on him. She still uses her wits and her fighting skills whenever she needs to. I liked that she kept her royal bearing but didn't deny her survival instincts.

Greyfriar is a fascinating character. His reasons for helping Adele and fighting the vampires are complex. He is pulled in two different directions, walking a very fine line while trying to stay alive in this harsh world. The war is coming and he knows it. I found the contrast between his secret life as Greyfriar and his real identity highly intriguing.

The land where the vampires rule is stark, brutal and depressing. Humans are cattle to be used and discarded when they're no longer useful. The vampires have few morals and even less honor. They want to dominate the world and bring the humans to heel. The humans have little chance of defeating the vampires without a lot of firepower. Even then, the odds are not good. If you're going to make vampires the antagonists then make then cruel, make them evil, make the reader feel fear when those vampires come on the page. These are the vampires of nightmares and I loved it!

There are a number of important players in this world. Aside from Adele and Greyfriar there is Adele's intended, Senator Clark, an American. He is brash, obnoxious and a complete ass. He is also very good when fighting the vampires. His interactions with the formality of the Equatorian court were as amusing as they were telling of the vast differences in the two countries. Court politics and intrigue play a role in who and how the humans will fight the vampires. Alliances must be made. We see this clearly with the Americans and the Equatorians.

This first book in the Vampire Empire trilogy left me wanting more. I loved how we saw the pageantry of the court and the brutality of the fight. The characters are well developed with depth and emotions that pull at you, making you want to cheer them on. There are secondary characters that I want to know more about. I want to know what will happen with Adele and Greyfriar. And I want to know if the vampires will be defeated. Hopefully, some of these answers will be in The Rift Walker, book 2, coming out this September.

Rating: A

Books in this trilogy ~

The Greyfriar
The Rift Walker (September 20, 2011)
Book 3


  1. With my TBR so huge and my wish list so extensive, I most definitely would have passed this one by. However, your review sold me. The world and series premise sounds unique and fascinating enough for me to want to try it and Adele and Greyfriar sound like interesting characters too. Thanks for the review, Leslie!

  2. Wooo, sounds very good Les!! I've been passing over it, but now I wonder if I can get it in e-book format... Hmmm.

    I'm jealous Les, you seem to be reading a lot of good books!

  3. So glad you enjoyed it Leslie! It's one of my favorite reads of this year. It just hit all the right notes: the world building, the action, and the romance. I even choked up a couple of times. LOVE the Greyfriar.

    I'm with you. I can't wait for Riftwalker! :-)

  4. Christine ~ It is very unique - so different from the usual vampire stories. Maybe you can get it from the library. That's technically not adding to the tbr pile right? :)

    Nath ~ Yep, lots of good reads lately with only a few so-so.

    Renee ~ Agree about the action, romance and world building. Loved it all! And it was very emotional at times. The way it left off has me anxious for The Rift Walker.

  5. I loved this book. I agree that Greyfriar was very complex. I loved him. Also agree that Senator Clark is awful.

  6. Alison ~ I loved Greyfriar too. Such a fascinating character!

    When I think of Senator Clark I think of Custer - in it for the fame and glory. I hope he doesn't last much longer.

  7. Well, this sounds really good Leslie! Nasty, evil vampires. Yay! I'm placing this one in my TBB list and will probably read it in August, right before the second book releases, lol! Great review!

  8. Hils ~ Excellent plan! I was ready to start the 2nd book as soon as I finished the first. :)

  9. Guess what, Leslie? I bought this one per your rec and downloaded to my ipad. It was only $2.99 for the amazon kindle app. I read the first couple of pages to see what it was like and could not put it down!! I loved it!!! Thank you for introducing it to me... I am SO anxious for the next one. :)