the Little Red Reviewer

Vampire Empire: The Greyfriar, by Clay & Susan Griffith

Posted on: December 9, 2010

If you liked Twilight, you will love Clay & Susan Griffith’s The Greyfriar, the first volume of their Vampire Empire series. If you’re into any of this trendy YA-ish Vampire stuff, you will go nuts for this book. And how stunning  is that cover art?

 A young beautiful princess destined for a political marriage to a man she’s never met. A brash, ambitious, broad shouldered American hero out to prove the strength of his people. And The Greyfriar, a mysterious masked hero who operates from within vampire territory to help the human cause. Globe spanning Empires, blood thirsty vampires, and humanity on the brink of a war to take back what is rightfully theirs. What’s not to like? Did I mention the handsome and intellectual Scottish vampire who tends to dress in tight pants, an overcoat and no shirt (they don’t feel the cold, you know). The Greyfriar  would make an excellent movie.

Too bad I’m not the intended audience.

In the Griffith’s alternate future, vampires have taken over most of Europe and the United States. The bits of humanity that survived the great killing fled to the equatorial regions, as the vampires avoid  hotter temperatures. Spanning India, the Middle East, and much of Africa is the Equatorial Empire, with it’s capitol in Alexandria. In the west an American empire has formed out of parts of lower north America and central America. There are other groups as well, but Equatoria and America are the superpowers of the human world. Princess Adele, the heir to the Equatorian Empire is betrothed to Senator Clark, a bold American military hero who insists on proving his military manliness at every turn. Humanity is in a era of science and steam, the world powers have left religion behind. Temples, mosques and churches exist, but even the old fashioned rarely visit them.

During a trip to the northern territories, the Equatorian Fleet is attacked and Adele and her younger brother are captured by the Vampires. Believing her brother dead, Adele is able to escape with help from the mysterious Greyfriar and finds herself in the protection and care of Gareth, the vampire prince of Scotland. Civil war is brewing in the vampire controlled British isles, as Gareth the rightful heir hopes for a diplomatic solution, while his warlord brother Cesare prefers to slaughter humans left and right.

Senator Clark (does he have a first name?), attempts to Shock and Awe Cesare and Gareth into returning Adele, while Gareth is hoping to return Adele to Alexandria safe and sound himself. Both Clark and Gareth have something to prove. At first, Adele hates and fears Gareth. Vampires are filthy creatures who want to kill all humans, why should he be any different? Predictably, Adele and Gareth fall in love, a la Beauty & the Beast style, minus the singing furniture. Gareth keeps the Scottish human villagers safe, and Adele finds peace and tranquility in the ancient Scottish churches that are still standing. In those same places she finds something powerful enough to destroy all vampire-kind.

When I was a teenager I would have eaten this up. But like I said, I don’t think I am the intended audience. For the most part, I found it flat, predictable, and increasingly heavy handed. The first 100 pages were a struggle for me to get through, but I wanted to see what this YA vampire craze was all about, so I kept reading.

If you read a lot of heavy complicated fiction, and are looking for something lighter, something fluffy for a lazy afternoon, The Greyfriar could be just the thing for you.

I have so many friends who would love this book, dissing it is making me feel like even more of an elitist bastard than usual. Most of the characters, including Adele and Gareth came off as one dimensional. Many of the action scenes felt repetitive and overly pulpy. Adele, Gareth and the Greyfriar have so much potention to be such incredible characters, I felt they were one huge lost opportunity.

Maybe I’m taking this whole thing way to seriously? Maybe this is supposed to be nothing but pulp? maybe Clark’s first name is Senator, and he’s meant to be a caricature of American brashness and a recent war mongering president? It’s entirely possible I’m reading things wrong, and taking everything out of context. won’t be the first time that’s happened and it sure won’t be the last. Maybe the church scenes that pinged my Jesus-meter are completely innocent, although I doubt it.

I still love the cover art. This is a book I would buy just for the cover art. I just wish I was the kind of person this book was written for.

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3 Responses to "Vampire Empire: The Greyfriar, by Clay & Susan Griffith"

Maybe I’m taking this whole thing way to seriously?

Absolutely not. A book needs to stand on its own two feet; there’s a difference between recognizing that a book is good but perhaps not for you, and recognizing that a book is crap but might be commercially popular. Trust your gut, Redhead! :)

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It’s a shame – your plot summary sounds great! There are too many authors/publishers jumping on the YA vampire novel bandwagon after Twilight, and very few of them are any good (or would have been published before the success of Twilight).

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it isn’t a bad book, i just have no idea if it’s any good, you know? there was no subtlety, no surprises, no complexity.

but it would make a great movie!!

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