“I have crossed oceans of time to find you.”

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Here we are again with the Friday Face Off meme created by Books by Proxy .   This is a great opportunity to feature some of your favourite book covers.  The rules are fairly simple each week, following a predetermined theme (list below) choose a book, compare a couple of the different covers available for that particular book and choose your favourite.   Future week’s themes are listed below. This week’s theme:

“Thus with a kiss I die” – a cover featuring a couple

Well, I thought this week was going to be a doddle.  How wrong could I be.  I found a couple of covers for Dracula (The Count and Mina) and also a couple of covers for Jacqueline Carey’s Miranda and Caliban.  But, I decided to go with Vampire Empire (The Greyfriar (Vampire Empire #1) by Clay Griffith, Susan Griffith).  Again only a couple of covers for this one but both so very different:

My favourite – I had to go with the dark vibe:

vampire empire

Which is your favourite?

Next week – a cover in the regency style

Future themes:

3rd November 2017 – ‘Desperate affairs require desperate measures’ – a regency style cover

10th November 2017 – ‘zip it, lock it and throw away the key – a cover featuring a key

17th November 2017 – Snap! – a cover featuring a double image or reflection

24th November 2017 – ‘I wonder if the snow loves the trees and fields, that it kisses them so gently’ – a cover featuring snow

1st December 2017 – The pen is mightier than the sword – a cover featuring a fancy font

8th December 2017 – ‘Do not go gentle’ – a cover featuring the night…

15th December 2017 – Hubble bubble toil and trouble – a cover featuring a portion/perfume bottle

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The Geomancer by Clay and Susan Griffiths

The Geomancer by Clay and Susan Griffith is a further instalment that brings to us the very readable world of The Greyfriar (Gareth) and the Empress of Equatoria (Adele).  This is the fourth story set in this unusual alternate world and whilst I will try to avoid spoilers for this particular novel this review may contain spoilers for previous books.  To be honest – I wouldn’t advise reading this as a standalone, but I concede I may be too close to the characters here and simply want you to read all the books – check out this great review by Mogsy at the Biblioscanctum who thinks this can be read without the first three – in which case – dive in!   My original review for this was posted at The Speculative Herald and this is an abridged version.

I’m not 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 stories!

At the conclusion of the Kingmaker’s Adele was manipulated into using a surge of geomancy which wiped out the British clans, freed the land from vampire rule and created a protective barrier to prevent their return.  Unfortunately, it also left huge scars on the natural rifts and badly drained Adele.  On a recent visit Adele and Gareth discover that a number of grisly murders have started to re-occur in London.  The vampires could be returning and it appears that Adele isn’t the only geomancer. It seems she has a rival called the Witchfinder.  The Witchfinder works for the vampires and is discovering ways to protect them from Adele’s power and also to use geomancy in a way that will kill humans instead!  And so we enter a race between Adele and the Witchfinder to try and find an ancient artifact that could spark an apocalypse.

I think this was my favourite of the series so far.  It has perfect pacing and plenty of action.  There are a number of tumultuous battle scenes with airborne scenes of vampire fighting vampire, some amazing locations and further character development accompanied by excellent dialogue.

The winning element is Adele and Gareth.  They have a strong relationship and seem so much in love that it’s impossible to read these books and not become involved.  This isn’t an easy relationship – Adele is human and Gareth is a Vampire.  Adele is strong and stubborn.  She will do anything to protect her family, friends and people, she has a vision which doesn’t involve one race wiping out the other, plus she carries a shining torch of optimsm.  Gareth differs from other vampires.  He believes his race to be ultimately doomed, he believes he’s the only one to treat humans with respect and is more despondent about the future.  He lacks Adele’s belief that both species can live together.

Anhalt also makes a very welcome appearance.  I do like this character.  He’s so very proper!  You feel for him as his battle wounds are taking their toll and he’s not the sort of character that waits on the sidelines while the action plays out.  We pay a visit to Adele’s brother Simon – this was an interesting development.  Simon is growing up and starting to rail a little bit.  He gets left behind with the boring paperwork while Adele dashes around the world pursuing adventure.  I wonder where that element of the story might take us.

These books are well written and easy to read.  They convey a wonderful amount of detail without slowing the pace or becoming tedious. In this particular story we once again visit Paris which is simply a great setting with the ruined city, dereliction and catacombs adding a dark and seedy element to the vampire world. We also travel to a hidden monastery in the mountains of Tibet.  This was a really surprising element to the story and one I really enjoyed.  I can’t go into a lot of detail because it will give too much away but it’s at this point where we finally start to see something of a breakthrough in terms of the way that vampires and humans regard each other.

In terms of criticisms – well, I would have liked some more detail about the Witchfinder and his motivations but although this might be lacking slightly there is another evil baddie on the scene – who, again, I can’t really say anything about.

I really enjoyed The Geomancer.  It has a great plot with lots of potential for future storylines.  If you’re looking for a vampire story with a difference, plenty of action, steampunk and romance then I strongly recommend this series for you.

I received a review copy courtesy of the publisher for which my thanks.  The above is my own opinion.

The Rift Walker by Clay Griffith and Susan Griffith

Just finished reading the Rift Walker, the second in the Greyfriar series by Clay and Susan Griffiths.  Whilst the first book threw us straight into a dark and violent world, where vampires rule and the vast majority of people have become little more than cattle with no sense of hope, the second is a much deeper exploration into the world created and in particular a good look at Princess Adele.  If you haven’t read the first book yet this will undoubtedly contain spoilers so be warned.

The story picks up a few months after the conclusion of The Greyfriar.  Adele has been returned safely to Equatoria where she is being given some time to recover from the ordeal she suffered at the hands of the London vampires.  The plan maybe for Adele to marry Senator Clarke (a marriage that will unite these two countries against their common enemy) but it is the Greyfriar who has caught the attention of the people. They’re desperate for a fairytale romance between their Princess and the dashing swordsman who fearlessly stalks and kills their enemies.  Senator Clark, however, is not to be so easily deterred and he strong-arms the Emperor into setting a date for their nuptials, much against Adele’s wishes.  The wedding date looms and I admit that I think I had as much a sinking feeling about it as Adele.  Things don’t go as planned though and following a dramatic entrance the Greyfriar whisks Adele away under the very nose of her would-be husband and all their guests.   From there onwards the pair have a lengthy journey to make that will take them over some fiercely hot climates and seriously test the Greyfriar’s (otherwise known as Prince Gareth) resolve and also give a bit more weight to why the myth of vampires not liking sunlight might have grown.  They need to get to a more friendly shore and throw themselves upon the mercy of a ruling king who may be prepared to harbour them – there’s no such thing as a free lunch though and any safe haven will undoubtedly have hidden provisos.

I have to admit, and I don’t think of myself as particularly a romance reader, but I do like the romantic elements to this book.  I will quickly just say that they’re not overdone – this is no bodice ripper and there’s no mushy vomit inducing lovey-dovey scenes (so relax on that front).  The main focus of the story is the potential war between Vampires and humans and the role that Adele and Gareth will play in that event.  Basically, I just like the two of them together and it’s interesting to watch the struggles they have to put up with in that respect.  It’s not easy loving a vampire in a vampire hating world!  It’s even less easy to keep a secret when there’s a bunch of geomancers around.  On top of that the very nature of Adele and the magic she seems to  be capable of is almost like a poison to Gareth and adds yet another level of difficulty to their being together and then there’s the element of duty that both of them are so very conscious of.  I thought their relationship really came along in this book.  They have more time together and more dialogue and frankly they can be pretty amusing.

There’s also plenty of travelling with the pair this time around going from Equatoria to Egypt and then further afield where they end up scaling a freezing cold mountain to battle with another clan!  I was particularly interested in the differences between this particular clan and the vampires from London.   

In terms of the characters.  The wonderfully menacing Flay puts in a couple of appearances – as a baddie I have to admit she’s pretty spot on!  Cesare doesn’t have quite as much involvement this time around although his final scenes are pretty shocking.  Adele is becoming a much stronger character and the magic she is working on with Mamoru is developing well but my favourites are without doubt Gareth and Anhalt.  Anhalt is just such a steadfast character that you simply can’t help liking him and Gareth – well, he’s simply Gareth!  In terms of certain other characters who I won’t divulge – there’s a lot of back stabbing taking place here with betrayal quite often where I didn’t expect it.  (And, can I just mention – can everybody please stop getting stabbed!!) 

So, we have plenty of travelling, a little romance and much action.  The story moves forward at a great pace and there are some really dramatic scenes to take in, some of them not shy on bloodshed.  There’s a great combination of steampunk, alternate history and horror but it’s all tempered with the budding romance and the very engaging chemistry between the two characters.  I couldn’t help having a bit of a giggle when Senator Clark and Gareth finally clashed!

I thought this was a great second instalment with a much deeper look into the world created by these two authors.  It ends on a real bombshell but fortunately I already have No.3 waiting to be read.  Happy days.

I received a copy of this from the publisher for which my thanks.  The above is my own opinion.