Vampire Empire, Book One: The Greyfriar

Rating: 
4

Princess Adele of Alexandria will be a key player in humanity's struggle to finally destroy the Vampire Empire, and reclaim the whole of the world for their own.  Her upcoming wedding to Senator Clark of America will unite their nations, resulting in an allied war machine that will surely be powerful enough to defeat the vampires once and for all.  But while abroad on a diplomatic tour, things go awry for Adele after she is attacked by a horde of vampires, yet her capture is thwarted by the mysterious Greyfriar, a legendary fighter from Northern Europe whom she had previously believed was only a made-up character from wild adventure stories. Thanks to her own fighting skills attained from years of combat training, Adele manages to hold her own alongside the powerful folk hero, but the two cannot hold back the vampires forever.  She soon finds herself captured and imprisoned in the heart of bloodsucker territory, and although the senile monarch is barely aware of her existence, his two sons -- the evil Cesare and his more moderate sibling Gareth -- each have their own ideas as to what to do with the Princess.  With the two vampire brothers locked in a power struggle for the throne, Adele's headstrong fiancee leads a misguided rescue mission that will surely put the future of both groups at risk.  And even though Adele finds an unexpected ally amongst the vampire populace, it seems as though nothing will prevent an all out war to the death between the two societies.

In this steampunk-infused tale that takes place in an alternate history, vampires -- classified as Homo nosferatii -- are a parasitic species (a cousin to humans) who in 1870 banded together in an attempt to subjugate human society.  Now 150 years later, this empire of bloodsuckers populates the colder regions of the earth, where they inhabit the major cities and keep a good number of humans as their slaves and primary food source.  The remaining free human population, having retreated to the warmer climates, formed two primary regions: the Empire of Equatoria and the American Republic. Individually they have fought their own battles with the vampires, but through this royal union, they will finally combine forces in an effort to defeat their common enemy.

This fast-paced yarn is an excellent yet unchallenging read, and even though it is about vampires, one must still look past the more implausible aspects of the novel. It's akin to a Cold War tale about a world divided, and although the story of star-crossed lovers is a familiar one, the authors certainly have a fresh take on the subject.  Interesting, too, is their take on the vampire mythos, where the truth behind the folklore is often more mundane than expected.  But for the most part it works, although one major ability that the vampires possess seems more like a useful plot device, rather than a trait that can easily be explained to any degree of satisfaction.  Both the hero and heroine are strong, well-rounded characters, and the supporting cast are equally interesting in their own right, each with their own distinct motivations and voices.

Vampire Empire, Book One: The Greyfriar is definitely a page-turner that will appeal to a wide audience.  The ending suffers from the fact that the story already has a planned sequel, so after a brief infusion of action, the various story lines flat line somewhat, lacking any major resolution. But in a way, this leaves you wanting more -- which is a good thing.  It is one of the better vampire books published this year, and definitely one of the more notable stories of recent memory.  I look forward to reading the sequel.

Fanged Films

Italy, 1918

Mexico, 1973
The Invasion of the Dead

From the Library

As the 20th century evolved, rational man turned to science to explain mythology that had pervaded for thousands of years. How could a man be mistaken for a vampire? How could someone appear to have been the victim of a vampire attack? Science, in time, came back with answers that may surprise you.Anemia
A million fancies strike you when you hear the name: Nosferatu!N O S F E R A T Udoes not die!What do you expect of the first showing of this great work?Aren't you afraid? - Men must die. But legend has it that a vampire, Nosferatu, 'der Untote' (the Undead), lives on men's blood! You want to see a symphony of horror? You may expect more. Be careful. Nosferatu is not just fun, not something to be taken lightly. Once more: beware.- Publicity for Nosferatu in the German magazine Buhne und Film, 1922  

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