The Greyfriar (Vampire Empire No.1) by Clay Griffith and Susan Griffith

The Vampire Empire series has been around for a while and was one of those books that I fancied reading but then hit that ‘had enough of reading vampire novels’ type of feeling.  Fortunately I’m over that little wobble now and having read and enjoyed the first book I have more to look forward to and no tedious wait inbetween – win!

So, Greyfriar is one of those books with a bit of a vampire romance in it.  Whilst all the other vampires are nasty and loathsome this one poor vampire is the odd one out, he ‘feels’ for humans, he finds them fascinating, in fact frankly, he prefers humans to vampires and sees a world in which they can co-exist.  That probably sounds cheesy and if I’d read this a few years ago there would have been some rolling of eyes.  As it is I just really enjoyed this, perhaps I was simply in the right frame of mind but rather than following the ‘cheesy and perhaps cliche’ fork in the road I opted for the ‘really enjoyable and compelling’ route.

Vampire Empire is set in a world where vampires, no longer content to survive in the background join together in a massive all out war against humans.  Many people die and the vampires take over control of great swathes of the world – particularly those that enjoy a less tropical style climate.  Whilst the war took place around 1870 the book is set in a slightly futuristic time – and yet it feels like a much earlier date historically speaking.  I think this is based primarily on the fact that the vampires mainly destroy, they take over cities but they create nothing.  They rely on humans to build things and to also keep them alive!  I guess that many of the innovational leaps and bounds that humans would naturally have made under different circumstances have been put on hold while they try to stay alive and come up with plans to take back control of the world.

At the start of the story, Princess Adele, heir to the throne of Equatoria is embarking on a journey to see her subjects.  This is a fore runner to her impending arranged marriage to a US Senator and Vampire killer/hero.  A diplomatic trip but one that goes horribly wrong when the vampires attack the dirigible they’re travelling on.  During the vampire attack Princess Adele becomes separated from the rest of the people and assisted by the man known as Greyfriar – who is something of a legend by all accounts.  A man so mysterious that nobody truly knows who he is – or for that matter if he really exists – until now.  Now, from here the story takes a bit of a capture, escape, capture, escape scenario so I won’t elaborate too much upon that.  For me, one of the best things about the book is the vampire politics and in-fighting between families and other clans.  The king’s two sons particularly share a good deal of animosity.  There’s the mystery surrounding the Greyfriar.  There’s an additional element of mystery surrounding Adele who seems to enjoy some form of special ability herself – there’s also a very curious magical element that is presumably going to be explored in future books and three is the promise of a slow building romance.

Characters.  I liked Adele.  She’s resourceful and she doesn’t mope about.  She goes through some tough experiences yet manages to keep a clear head.  Her intended, Senator Clark – well, he’s a bit of a cardboard cutout which is a bit of a shame – he’s very wooden and totally an unsympathetic character.  Everything he does simply makes you dislike him more, even though he’s supposed to be one of the good guys and clearly this is a ploy to make you have no guilt for preferring the Vampire Gareth instead of Adele’s human intended!  That being said, yes, the Senator is a bit cliched but the vampires have a number of new traits to explore.  They’re violently ruthless and herd humans like cattle draining them dry and flinging them aside like rubbish.  Unbelievably I actually like the character Flay – she gives a good insight into the vampire psyche and it isn’t pretty.  On top of that there are a few myths put to rest and new elements such as flying – no transforming into bats but just super light bones similar to birds.

The plot, as I said above, follows a capture, escape and run and hide format.  It certainly isn’t boring – in fact quite far from it as there is plenty of action along the way.

The world building doesn’t take too much imagination – it’s pretty much the place we know already but set in an alternate history.  For example, London teeming with vampires who perch like gargoyles atop the city’s famous landmarks and Buckingham Palace now home to the most powerful vampire family.

Okay, the real winner of the story for me was the romance – it’s not overly done at all or in your face.  In fact it’s not the main element of the story at all and really only becomes obvious towards the conclusion of the story.  I think that’s probably why I liked it here – it’s subtle.  But, I liked the slow build.  The understanding between the two characters and, yes, this almost had a Beauty and the Beast type of feel to it.  You really can’t help feeling drawn to Gareth he’s a vampire but, put simply, he acts like he wants to be human – which is kind of ironic!

I had a couple of criticisms.  The reckless killing of humans by the vampires was one – I totally understand that the point is being hammered home a lttle to reinforce how nasty these vampires really are – but it got to feel a bit over the top and I couldn’t help wondering how they even had any herds left to feed upon at the rate they were ‘eating’ their livestock.  I was also puzzled about the vampires in general – they literally do nothing.  They’re immortal, they live forever and can’t sleep and yet they just seem to sit and wallow – they don’t create, build, read or write.  They don’t cook and now that they’ve conquered the world they don’t even hunt.  They really come across as being terribly bored and who can blame them – perhaps that’s why they fight amongst themselves so much.  Really – what do they do for eternity!

Anyway, in spite of a couple of little niggles I thoroughly enjoyed this and look forward to reading the next instalment.  A strange fusion of dark and brooding vampire horror, steampunk and alternate history interwoven with the subtle beginnings of a love story and the catalyst for future adventures.

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11 Responses to “The Greyfriar (Vampire Empire No.1) by Clay Griffith and Susan Griffith”

  1. Lisa (@TenaciousReader)

    I should try this series sometimes, I do like my vampires a bit darker, closer to the horror side 🙂 But, if they just wallow and kill, I may lose interest. Overall sounds like worth a shot.

  2. Mogsy @ BiblioSanctum

    Oh sweet! I really enjoy this series. Like you, I had a couple niggles but as a whole it was very entertaining. One of these days I’ll have to read the third one before the fourth book comes out 🙂

  3. Tammy

    I’ve had a copy of this for a few years (!) but just haven’t gotten to it. Now that I’ve started the Griffiths’ new series, I’m curious to check this out. I love the idea of a really good, slow burning romance:-D

    • lynnsbooks

      I liked the romance here – it wasn’t instantaneous – which is always a bonus, the two of them had obstacles to overcome to like each other and it just worked somehow.
      Lynn 😀

  4. jessicabookworm

    I must admit I think I’d hit a saturation point for supernatural romance too, in books and films but I do rather like the sound of this. I love having a series to catch up with as I hate waiting for new instalments to come out!

    • lynnsbooks

      I know – book 4 is due out anytime soon too!
      Lynn 😀

  5. ‘The truth is, you’re the weak, and I am the tyranny of evil men. But I’m trying, I’m trying real hard’ |

    […] The Greyfriar (Vampire Empire No.1) by Clay Griffith and Susan Griffith – in which humans have been beaten into submission by a huge scale war with vampires (who now rule the majority of the world).  Humans have become little more than cattle kept alive purely for the purpose of providing blood.  There’s a rebellion building though – you can’t keep a good human down!! […]

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    […] Vampire Empire by Clay and Susan Griffith […]

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    […] The Greyfriar by Clay and Susan Griffith – love in the most expected place – a vampire and a human.  Absolutely forbidden – a vampire falling in love with it’s food, tsk. […]

  8. The Geomancer by Clay and Susan Griffiths | Books and travelling with Lynn

    […] going to give a long description about the past history  – my previous reviews are here for The Greyfriar, The Riftwalker and the KingMakers.  They’re all great […]

  9. Don’t quote me, but, I love quotes!!… | Books and travelling with Lynn

    […] drunk with blood, sometimes with red hands resting on humans who still showed signs of life.’ The Greyfriar by Clay and Susan […]

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