Guest Review: The Greyfriar by Clay Griffith and Susan Griffith

Posted October 12, 2012 by Kara in Guest Post / 21 Comments

Publisher: Pyr
Release Date: November 10th, 20110
Pages: 301
Genre: Adult, Steampunk, Paranormal
Series: Vampire Empire #1
Source: This is a guest review.

Blurb: In an alternative history timeline, vampires ruthlessly invade and dominate the northern cooler continents and cities in 1870. Humankind has fled to the warm, vampire-free lands of the deserts and warmer climate regions during the two year attempted genocide of the human race. For years, the exiled humans attempt to shape their world to reflect their cherished culture and homes lost in the great killings.

In 2020, the forsaken human race is ready to return home.

Driven by airships, machines and revenge, the humans conquer and rebuild the new empire and name their new home Equatoria. The female heir to the throne, Princess Adele, views the wars as just another obligation that must be fulfilled by her empire, and takes her role in the shaping of history as lightly as possible. 

After falling into enemy hands, she is transported back to the wrecked and vampire-controlled London to be used as a pawn in the upcoming political warfare for the lost lands. In captivity, the princess discovers that her life, her empire, and her future are more fragile than she could have ever imagined.

Aided by her mysterious human savior, the Greyfriar, she struggles to survive in the blood-thirsty capital as she attempts to flee back to the south. Prince Gareth, the heir to the English vampire throne, complicates Adele’s simplistic view of the larger, more complex point of view. Caught between her future husband’s attempt to win over his Equatoria and her fresh sympathy for the northern settlements, Adele loses her naïve persona and discovers a hidden power inside of herself that could save the world. But what is the cost of this power, and can she save her heart from an unexpected romance with the enemy?


Review: I’ll be completely honest–I was lusting over the cover of this book. I sneered at the title (Vampire Empire, really, REALLY?) when I first opened up the packaging. Then I started to read it, and I hated it. Then I started to like it. Then I loved it. Now I want to love it and make beautiful book babies with it. The Greyfriar, the first book of Clay and Susan Griffith’s Vampire Empire trilogy, made me fall in love all over again with literature. I praise the Griffiths for renewing my faith in vampires, steampunk, and true love. Don’t be fooled by that lovely cover–the story is just as beautiful as the Victorian-inspired artwork on the front.

The characters. Gods, how I love them all. Adele seems a bit distant and cardboard at the start, and even though she really begins to develop only about two-thirds of the way into the story, she does stand out on her own. Egyptian (big bonus points for a non-white female lead!), confident, and able to take care of her own damn self, Adele absolutely blossoms into one of the best female characters in adult fiction. Adele’s charm develops straight out of her own abilities and self worth instead of stellar good looks or a mysteriously secret attractive personality. She’s awesome because of her OWN TALENTS. How I enjoyed a story where the female main character skipped the part on describing herself as dull, or unattractive while slobbering over the marble (vomit), god-like physique of the male character. I believe that Adele’s eyes were mentioned once (brown), and her auburn hair actually lead to one of the most memorable scenes in the entire book. Kudos to the Griffiths for skipping the entire attractiveness dilemma–we have enough of that as it is. On the personality front, Adele might have seemed dull and lifeless for a majority of the book, but the princess was never a helpless, secretly good-looking heroine just waiting for her true love. Even during her sillier, sheltered moments, Adele always had a good head on her shoulders. So when she actually grew a personality, it did not feel forced or weird. Instead, her secret badassery was simply locked away, just ready to burst out of her empty, one-dimensional existence.

Prince Gareth….where do I even start? Dazzling, sweet, and downright loveable, the vampire Prince Charming was oddly one of the most human characters in the story. Watching his struggle to comprehend and fathom human existence ripped my heart straight out of my chest. Watching a god-like creature envy and love humans caused me to celebrate what makes all of us feel alive. Our music, our art, even our books and literature added a bittersweet touch to the living world. Gareth’s greatest flaw (from a vampire point of view) is his complicated love of all things human. Just think of a male Ariel, and instead of legs, he wants art and books. And the guy loved cats, for crying out loud! Seriously, this hunk of vampire sexiness will leave you screaming for more of his royal I’m-gonna-create-me-some-fangirls highness.

The Greyfriar completely shocked me as well. His role in the plot twists brought a whole new level to this book. As I said over Twitter one day, he is basically the Batman of the vampire universe. Discussing the Greyfriar can lead to some spoilers, but overall, he was the perfect hero-in-disguise for an already kick-ass book.

Senator Clark left me seriously torn. First of all, what is a good love story without the asshole soon-to-be-spouse? Never fear–Clark had a major and seriously two-sided part to play in this tale. I really enjoyed, as an American, the absolutely ridiculous smoke and mirrors attitude of his part-time annoying character. Because in America, we really love our crap to be as dramatic and flashy as possible. And according to this book, America becomes one big Texas, with cowboy hats, guns, rifles, bandannas, and the overwhelming color *puke* of red, white, and blue. Yeehaw. Vampire-killing cowboys. The only people who love big and flashy more than Americans are Texans. I kid you not. Now that I am done sidetracking, I’ll say that Clark is everything you believe the future husband of the protagonist should be–very full of himself. But this was the man who was expected to be what he was. I even found myself rooting for the guy, and I frankly wanted to kick his cowboy ass. 
With the big three out of the way, the whole slew of supporting characters–Flay, Caesar, Adele’s protectors–all of them deserve a huge round of applause. 

The world-building is also another huge advantage of the book, but it wouldn’t have hurt to describe the events and influences a bit more in depth. I am actually advocating for a prequel to this book, or a novella of Equatoria history, and I HATE prequels with a passion. I struggled with this book at first because I had no clue what the heck was happening. After the wars and conquering made an appearance, my interest finally piqued, and I felt that I had a better grasp on what was happening. The authors of this book even had the decency to shift cultural and central influences to different parts of the world (American, Middle Eastern, and European). This is the first book I have read in forever that approached their setting in a global fashion.

There are so many highlights and high points that I could point out, but then this review would be a few hundred pages longer. To sum it up, the first book in the Vampire Empire trilogy attempts to rebuild the injured reputation of the vampire culture while shifting the setting to a wider world point of view. Romance, the human achievement, and an audience’s struggle to choose a side pushes this book to the front of the pack. The Greyfriar is a perfect weekend getaway book that does not dumb down the content to become accessible and enjoyable.

Rating: 5/5

To purchase a copy of The Greyfriar from Amazon.com, click here: The Greyfriar (Vampire Empire, Book 1)Yes, I am an affiliate and will earn a commission if you purchase from my links.

Thanks for the wonderful review, Lyn!!
Follow Lyn on Twitter: https://twitter.com/Heartless_Lyn

21 responses to “Guest Review: The Greyfriar by Clay Griffith and Susan Griffith

  1. I was all set to enjoy reading a review in full, because I hate that cover and had no plans to read this, but then you convinced me! So now I can’t enjoy the review. Sigh.

    I love the part I did read though, about how you went from hate to liking to love to book babies. Awesome. That’s how I felt about that Immortal Beloved, though I didn’t get all the way to book baby level obsession with the book. :-p

    • I had my doubts at first. Anything with “vampire” makes me run away. So imagine my absolute shock when I was sobbing when I finished this book. I really hope you enjoy it!!

  2. Great review! Yeah, I hate books where the heroine is “oh I’m so plain and unlovable – look at my plain and unlovable strawberry blond hair, beestung lips and long legs.” It’s often used in historical romance where the author can explain that the heroine’s CLEAR HOTNESS just wasn’t “in fashion” then. Um, authors? Big boobs never went out of style for dudes. Ever.

    The Prince sounds adorable – the Monster Learns To Be Human Plotline is a huge turn on for me, so I might just have to check this on out!

    ….but yeah that title was atrocious. I almost skipped this review because of that title.

    • The title is a bit… pretentious. If I had not read a review by a person I truly trust, I would have laughed my bottom right off and skipped this book.

    • To be honest, you really have no clear idea of Adele’s appearance, outside of reddish locks and darker skin (She’s Egyptian). I believe that her actions painted an honest picture of Adele, and I was overjoyed to be able to dodge the “Oh woe is me I’m so plain” fight that is polluting the YA genre.

  3. I had read this book, but I didn’t love it as you did. I can say I only liked it somewhat. Oh well. I’m not sure if I’ll read the rest of the series or not. I’m leaning on more than not at this point.
    DeAnna Schultz

  4. Awesome review..this has been sitting on my nook..and i feel so stupid for having let it sit there this long..i need to make book babies..awesome review, you reminded me why I bought this in the first place.

  5. Lyn!
    I love your reviews as always. ^^
    So, I have not heard of this book. Like..at all. O.o But after reading the blurb and your review, I’ve decided that it should go on my TBR immediately. For some reason though, I really do not like the name Adele. I think it’s because of the singer. I’m not a fan of her music to be honest (okay, maybe I like one or two of her songs). And the moment I saw the name, one of her songs had to go off and get stuck in my head. *starts humming “Rolling in the Deep”* Sigh. Great.
    I DO love this story idea though. It sounds intriguing. Unlike a lot of people nowadays, I still have a soft spot for vamps. It just all depends on how the story goes I guess. The title kind of made me cringe though. And while I like the cover–as a reader, I really dislike the series name being so much bigger than the book title. But that’s just me personally. *shrugs*

    Annndd… Batman is one of my favorite heroes. You saying the Greyfriar is the Batman of the vampire universe just won me over. 😉

    Fantastic review. Can’t wait to pick this up in the future!

    <3
    Pixie

    • I don’t like the name Adele either and I am not a fan at all. *cough Overrated *cough*. I still like vamps too if they are done right.

      Why do you hate the title so much? Just curious, but I have heard this more than once and I’m just wondering.

      Can’t wait to hear your thoughts!

    • Yeah, her name bothered me a bit – now all I can think about is a woman flipping off the world when she is cut off on a long winded speech.
      The Greyfriar in the book reminds me of steampunk Batman.
      Pixie, I really hope you read this soon – I would love to know your own thoughts on it. I hate to discuss it too much, because there are some parts that would spoil it, but I am dying to discuss it! If you have a soft spot for vampires, you really might dig this one. Vampires, for this series, is another race of people, not just transformed humans. I liked the liberties that the authors took with the whole mythology.

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