Review: “The Rift Walker (Vampire Empire #2)” and “The Kingmakers (Vampire Empire #3)” by Clay and Susan Griffith


Title: “The Rift Walker (Vampire Empire #2)” and “The Kingmakers (Vampire Empire #3)”

Author: Clay & Susan Griffith

Genre: YA, Steampunk, Urban Fantasy, Alternate History, Paranormal Romance

Publication Date: September 20, 2011/September 4, 2012 (Pyr/Prometheus Books – North America)

Source: Publisher-provided review copies

Summary:

Book 2: Princess Adele struggles with a life of marriage and obligation as her Equatorian Empire and their American Republic allies stand on the brink of war against the vampire clans of the north. However, the alliance’s horrific strategy for total victory drives Adele to abandon her duty and embark on a desperate quest to keep her nation from staining its hands with genocide. Reunited with her great love, the mysterious adventurer known to the world as the Greyfriar, Adele is pursued by her own people as well as her vengeful husband, senator Clark. With the human alliance in disarrray, Prince Cesare, lord of the British vampire clan, seizes the initiative and strikes at the very heart of Equatoria.

As Adele labors to bring order to her world, she learns more about the strange powers she exhibited in the north. Her teacher, Mamoru, leads a secret cabal of geomancers who believe Adele is the one who can touch the vast power of the Earth that surges through ley lines and wells up at the rifts where the lines meet. These energies are the key to defeating the enemy of mankind, and if Princess Adele could ever bring this power under her command, she could be death to vampires. But such a victory will also cost the life of Adele’s beloved Greyfriar.

Book 3: A war to the death.

Empress Adele has launched a grand crusade against the vampire clans of the north. Prince Gareth, the vampire lord of Scotland, serves the Equatorian cause, fighting in the bloody trenches of France in his guise as the dashing Greyfriar. But the human armies are pinned down, battered by harsh weather and merciless attacks from vampire packs.

To even the odds, Adele unleashes the power of her geomancy, a fearsome weapon capable of slaughtering vampires in vast numbers. However, the power she expends threatens her own life even as she questions the morality of such a weapon.

As the war turns ever bloodier and Adele is threatened by betrayal, Gareth faces a terrible choice. Their only hope is a desperate strike against the lord of the vampire clans—Gareth’s brother, Cesare. It is a gamble that could win the war or signal the final days of the Greyfriar.

The Vampire Empire trilogy rushes to a heart-wrenching conclusion of honor and love, hatred and vengeance, sacrifice and loss.

☆: 4/5 stars – great alternate history romance, but didn’t quite hit the mark in some places for me.

Review: Note: This review is for books 2 and 3 of the trilogy, so there may be spoilers.

I found book 2 to be the biggest improvement of the series so far, and book 3, while it was a good conclusion, still didn’t feel entirely whole to me. I love the romance that the authors have injected into this alternate universe adventure, but at times it was a bit over the top with the paranormal, a little too unbelievable with certain bits of the world that the Griffiths have created. I did really like both books, though, and while I’m sad to see the trilogy end, I feel like its end was complete enough so that I don’t feel like it hasn’t been properly wrapped up. If you love steampunk and romance, the last two installments of the trilogy are most definitely for you.

I found book 2 to be on a whole new level when compared to book 1, and I’m glad to see that that momentum created in book 2 carried over nicely into book 3. There is a whole lot of tension going around, and both 2 and 3 felt far more urgent than the more comparatively leisurely-paced book 1. It felt like in book 2 (and book 3), the authors found and hit their strides, and the writing just flowed so much better. I found the developments to all of the characters compelling, and I LOVED the wedding scene with Clark, Adele, and Grayfriar. Adele and Grayfriar’s romance became all the more believable throughout their trials, and Clark rattling his saber (literally) throughout both books was a great foil (no pun intended) to the lovers.

And what I loved the most? While I could see twinges of Mamoru’s betrayal starting to pop up in book 2, his full-on crazy tantrum in book 3? Didn’t see that coming, not entirely. And that was really nice, because there were large chunks of books 2 and 3 that I did kind of see coming down the road. Something as huge as Mamoru’s betrayal and having it so that I didn’t really see it coming? Brilliant.

But the parts that didn’t quite sit well with me were worldbuilding-related, I suppose. Parts of how the Equatorian empire was created and how the various double-agent assignments of the Undead seated in Commons (Aden and the rest) just weren’t really believable. I mean, eye-rolling unbelievable. Letting in Flay and the other vampires to attack the city? Wait – weren’t they pretty much dead in the heat? While the answer was almost kind of hastily made up with the idea that regional traditional faerie species like djinns and divs were just regional vampires, again, that wasn’t quite enough for me. I just didn’t find it believable that everyone worried about Adele and Simon’s safety to the degrees seen in the book wouldn’t think to check everyone’s loyalties?

But beyond that, the worldbuilding was excellent, and the pacing, while uneven at times (I admit, during some of the war scenes that seemed pretty slow or repetitive, I tuned out a bit), was otherwise pretty good. I loved the weapons – they were some of the most creative bits of the war-themed sub-arcs. Blood gas! Fahrenheit Sabers! I definitely wanted one of those sabers by the end.

All in all, a really fun (and more than a bit addictive) read, for books 2 and 3. I’m sad to see this series go, but I feel like it’s been adequately ended and the characters are all in good places. Everything felt nicely wrapped up. I’m definitely looking forward to what the authors are going to write next, because this series was a blast!

Final verdict? If you’ve read book 1, you simply must read the rest of this trilogy. “The Rift Walker” and “The Kingmakers” are both out now from Pyr/Prometheus Books in North America, so be sure to check them out!

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One thought on “Review: “The Rift Walker (Vampire Empire #2)” and “The Kingmakers (Vampire Empire #3)” by Clay and Susan Griffith

  1. Pingback: usagi’s challenges for 2012! | birth of a new witch.

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