Friday, February 10, 2012
Bastard Reaction: The Greyfriar by Clay & Susan Griffith
Vampires and steampunk, how can you go wrong with that? It was with high expectations that I went ahead and read The Greyfriar, the first installment from Clay and Susan Griffith's the Vampire Empire series in what ended being a fun action packed ride.
In an alternate history setting, in which vampires control the northern hemisphere, Princess Adele of the Equatorian Empire is on the run from a band of vampires who attacked her airship. Her only hope lies on the mysterious Greyfriar, renown revolutionary against the vampire empire of the north. She's the critical piece in the impending war of human and vampires as she's to be married to Senator Clark of the American Empire, thus fortifying what might be the vampires biggest threat to their occupation. Adele represents their biggest threat and their biggest opportunity.
The best way I can describe my experience with The Greyfriar is that it was a very fun, but unbalanced novel. In my opinion, the biggest fault it had was that it may have been too action focused, making character and plot development suffer. Interestingly enough, much of that action centers around scenes focusing on Senator Clark, who I thought was a major negative in this book. Too much of a buffoon for my taste, and honestly was featured too much in place of more interesting characters, some of who were forgotten as the novel went on. There are some amusing turn of events featuring Senator Clark though, so don't want to completely write him off, but it's one of those situations where less would have been more.
Vampires were a plus in this novel, more gruesome and violent than I anticipated coming into it. For my complaints about plot, I thought the vampire side of things was the more interesting portion. Though with some reservations, the political intrigue vastly more compelling as well as the power conflicts it presented. Main complaint about vampires is that they were presented as weak to warm weather, but that really didn't come off properly. They make allusions to it, but during the fights where this was supposed to factor somewhat, it really wasn't shown. The other thing is that they were conveniently docile during some portions particularly when dealing with Princess Adele, our main character.
The biggest strength of the book was the world building, I found setting to be very interesting as well as how the whole world is staged, with external and internal conflicts. Reminded me of one of my favorite anime, Trinity Blood; probably the main culprit of my high expectations and anticipation. The steampunk, though limited and understated, I thought it was well done and fit the world extremely well. Really enjoyed some of the devices that were presented.
Adele was a strong character, and quite refreshing in many regards. Gutsy and not afraid to meet the challenge when it presents itself, or sacrifice herself if needed be. The Griffith's did an amusing take in the damsel in distress scenario, which is really my favorite aspect of this book all told. Despite some of my complaints above, the cast of this book is well rounded, just a bit underused.
The Greyfriar was simply an enjoyable novel, and a quick fast paced read; action packed with a few plot progression and character interaction issues. Though seeming to be a bit harsh on it, I thought it was a promising debut and I think you should take this reaction with a grain of salt, mainly because I've already read the sequel and thought it was very good. In many ways, it made most of my complaints here irrelevant.
If you're looking to sit back and take part of a fun ride, then I don't think you can go wrong with this one. I think urban fantasy fans and paranormal fans will have the biggest success with this series. For those wondering, romance really doesn't come into play in this first book. It really is action focused, and more of a stage setter than anything else. Flawed, but promising debut from Clay and Susan Griffith, and I'm personally looking forward to reading the rest of the series. It has been well received by many, so very much worth the try.
Buy The Greyfriar from The Book Depository
Please visit Clay and Susan Griffith's website for more information.