|The Greyfriar by Clay and Susan Griffith|
(Vampire Empire Book 1)
November 18, 2010
Genre: Paranormal Steampunk
Source: Audible audiobook
Vampire predators run wild in this exciting steampunk adventure, the first in an alternate history trilogy that is already attracting attention. In 1870, monsters rise up and conquer the northern lands, As great cities are swallowed up by carnage and disease, landowners and other elite flee south to escape their blood-thirsty wrath.
One hundred fifty years later, the great divide still exists; fangs on one side of the border, worried defenders on the other. This fragile equilibrium is threatened, then crumbles after a single young princess becomes almost hopelessly lost in the hostile territory. At first, she has only one defender—a mysterious Greyfriar who roams freely in dangerous vampire regions.
I cannot say enough good things about this book. I was enraptured not only by the story, but also by the narrator. The combination of this amazing book with James Marsters narrating is virtual perfection. Maybe utter perfection. There isn't a single thing I can say negatively about this book.
Vampires: Okay, so I've read a fair amount of vampire books, though I would not call myself vampire-obsessed. What I liked here is that most of the vampires are scary. Like suck-you-dry-of-your-blood-and-leave-you-dead scary. Like raise-humans-as-mindless-cattle scary. Like kill-you-so-fast-you-didn't-see-me-coming scary. And I loved the interesting way they were described, as having the ability to change their density, therefore being able to fly. Being heat-sensitive but not erupting into flames at the mere sight of the sun. Wielding great strength but by no means being impossible to kill. And how they are described about their language abilities and treatment of human lore and abilities - really fascinating.
Plot: What I loved about this story was that it combines vampire lore with steampunk and new locations I don't read enough about (we get to travel a bit). Here we have the human societies, primarily Alexandria and America, on the verge of war with the vampires. But before that war can be started by the humans, the Alexandrians and the Americans must form an alliance, which is code for an arranged political marriage between Princess Adele and Senator Clark. Which is every girls' dream, right? To be forced into marrying an obnoxious, power-hungry man? Blech. But while preparations for the marriage can be completed, the vampires strike. Fortunately, Greyfriar comes to the rescue, and this is where the story really begins. We are then thrust into a fascinating story of political unrest, both in the human and the vampire world. I loved getting both sides of this. We also journey with Adele as she starts to uncover so many hidden truths around her, from vampire society, to her own politics, to the true nature of the bloodherds, as well as the truth of her own desires and abilities, and of course, the truth of where her heart is at. The story was exciting, action-packed, and I didn't want to put it down
Main Characters: This story is packed full of intriguing, fascinating characters. It draws richly upon their personalities and leaves no one a mere one-dimensional cardboard cut-out. I felt completely drawn into their lives, both good and bad, and could see so much of who these "people" were. So not only is this story plot-driven, but character-driven as well.
Adele is a wonderful heroine. She is young yet mature. She has strength yet humility. She has passion yet gentleness. She can be serious yet also funny. I loved when the POV returned to her because I love her perspective on everything and everyone. She's genuinely trying to puzzle things out, proving her to be the great leader she's meant to be. Even in the most difficult and confusing situations, she was able to keep her head. And of course I loved watching how things unfolded with her and Greyfriar and Gareth. And her tenderness with Gareth after all the confusion, so lovely.
I absolutely love Prince Gareth. In the gruesome world of vampires, he is a breath of fresh air. His desire for humanity battles with the reality of his needs as a vampire, yet it is his approach and his heart that stand out and make him one-of-a-kind. I love how even the simple things like books and writing and cats are gently undertaken, even with childlike wonder, by this powerful vampire. The different aspects of his character are beautifully written by the Griffiths. And his tenderness with Princess Adele is just lovely.
The Greyfriar is an enigma, with his mask and costume, completely obscuring any identifiable marks on him. He is a fierce warrior and fighter of vampires, but also a kind soul who would protect Adele with his life. Sigh and swoon for the masked man. The people's fascination with him is well-deserved.
Romance: There is light romance in this book, but it is lovely and beautiful all the same. This proves that you don't need hot-and-heavy to provide a romantic moment or a swoon-worthy event. If anything, I felt their emotional connection all the more.
Bottomline: I absolutely loved this audiobook. The story, the plot, the characters, and the narrating - perfection for me. Would I have felt the same without James Marsters narrating? I don't know, but I think so. I loved all the twists and turns, the action-packed, blood-filled moments and the gentle, tender moments. The Griffiths are an amazing team and I look forward to starting the next book.