Mini review: Vampire Empire Book Two: The Rift Walker by Clay Griffith and Susan Griffith

Book info:

  • Paperback: 300 pages
  • Publisher: Pyr (September 6, 2011)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1616145234
  • ISBN-13: 978-1616145231
  • Genre: steampunk, pulp action
  • Target audience: YA

Synopsis (from Goodreads):

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 almost-husband, senator Clark who wants to be emperor at all costs. 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.

The Rift Walker is the second book in a trilogy of high adventure and alternative history. Combining rousing pulp action with steampunk style, the Vampire Empire series brings epic politcal themes to life within a story of heartbreaking romance, sacrifice, and heroism.

What I liked:
Adele is getting more mature and she learns to make her own choices – always a good thing in any novel. Vampires change their tactics (ok, prince Cesare changes them to tell you the truth and he has some brilliant ideas despite being a monster so overall I warmed up to him despite his murder at the end) and make alliances previously unheard-of. Characters who were supposed to be white hats in the first part got gray hats or even black hats this time – I liked that very much, especially as it concerned some of court politicians. Good moves.
The world building was exquisite although this time we see more of Africa and less of Scotland or London. Still it was a nice trip, especially as it featured the Abu-Simbel temple of Ramsesses and Amun – I would love to visit that site myself. The steampunk factor was not as pronounced as in the first part but it was felt there nevertheless. Farenheit blades are great. ;D I would fancy one.
The plot was fast-paced with some really nice scenes (the meetings between Adele and senator Clark were actually my favourites), the narration smooth and interesting although not to the very end. Why not ? Read the next section to find out.
What I didn’t like:
The closer the plot drifted to those cheesy Zorro movies and indeed, pulp fiction, the less enjoyable it became to me. Rescuing Adele right from the altar at the last possible moment, right after vows? Oh dear, please, it was done to death; it’s enough to remind that fabulous scene from Shrek 01 where the Donkey flies through a big glass window (exactly like our Greyfriar) on a she-dragon (not exactly like Greyfriar who is a vampire and can fly on his own) and shouts: “I have a dragon and I won’t hesitate to use it!” As an ironic, tongue-in-cheek pastiche it worked perfectly well for me; as a serious, big, fat and romantic plot device – not at all. In fact, in my very humble opinion, it was an insult to Adele’s and Gareth’s intelligence and their ability of strategic planning – they could have orchestrated the whole kindnapping a lot better. 

Unfortunately after that scene everything went pretty much downhill. Greyfriar proves time and again that the South is not for vampires and the second part of this book is not for more demanding audience. It is heartbreaking to write it  but so I felt. Not even Flay who, next to Cesare, is indeed my favourite black character of this series (if you haven’t read the first part – she is a powerful vampiress in love with Gareth and also a woman spurned by him), could rescue it. Not really. I also hated the fact that Gareth was so weak while travelling in the South. I liked him better while in Scotland.
What I found downright funny (beware: spoilers and some nasty PG remarks ahead – highlight and read at your own risk!):
Ok, so we have this big, teary romance between the princess and her vampiric beloved. They  missed each other terribly and they finally meet after a long time in extremely romantic circumstances – he saves her from being married to an American brute she doesn’t love, right? After that they run away together and spend a lot of time alone. Aaaaaaaaaaaaand…he kisses her. Only. Oh, wait, they also cuddle a bit on the same bed and yes, he treats her as his private emergency food storage so he drinks her blood. Still, nothing untoward passes between them because…well, the authors seem very inclined to tiptoeing around that issue as if it was one big hot piece of coal, to be treated with utmost care, preferably to be avoided completely. Honestly… I know it is an YA book but even in such novels these things are at least mentioned, if not vaguely described. At the very end Gareth is princess Adele’s official consort and still they only cuddle…and kiss…and cuddle some more… and drink deeply.
My conclusions? Gareth must be homosexual or a saint or he simply cannot perform. Maybe all these three are true who knowns…anyway I found it silly and spurious.Poor Adele. Poor series. Poor eunuch vampires. Sigh. Strangely enough this books are  written by a husband-and-wife team…
Final verdict:

A good YA novel but also, in my opinion, one definitely worse than the first part which I truly enjoyed.  I am still willing to read the third and the final one but I must admit I am a bit wary now. The Rift Walker fell a bit short of my expectations so I wonder what solutions the authors will chose to finish the series.

Abu Simbel Temple of Ramesses II. Taken by mys...Image via Wikipedia

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9 Responses to Mini review: Vampire Empire Book Two: The Rift Walker by Clay Griffith and Susan Griffith

  1. Always enjoy your candidness, sounds like it got a little cliche' in the end. Lol at Zorro and Shrek, too funny. It's great Adele was a mature and strong character where she could make her own decisions, I like independent characters.Great review.

  2. I actually haven't even read the first one so most of that didn't make sense. I would like to read the series, so maybe I'll get to it one day. 😀

  3. Anachronist says:

    Lena, thanks, some people say I am just snarky…well, I like calling a spade a spade. I know it can hurt but it's long-term advantages are simply priceless…;)Sure, get it Jen when/if you have some free time in your closet. It is a breeze read and if you wait some more the series will be finished so no cliffies or secrets!

  4. Blodeuedd says:

    Oh you crack me up. I do love your reviews, and it is all so true! (I was just a bit nicer since I still was in love with the glory that was book 1) hihi.I guess he is gay then 😉

  5. I enjoyed this one more than you did. I liked that Adele became the hero in this story. I also understood why he didn't consumate their union. First, the concept of love is unknown to them. He is cherishing it. Second, their child could possibly kill Adele. So, unless there is some contraceptive that hasn't been mentioned then I doubt they will risk it. If that all makes me gullible and a sap, I'm fine with it because I enjoyed the ride! 😉 I did agree that it wasn't as good as the first, but I rarely expect second books to outshine the first.Wish you had loved it more. Hopefully the last one will bring it more up to par with the first.

  6. Blahahahahah loved your spoiler. Your candor is always appreciated, and while I loved this one, I can definitely see where you're coming from 🙂

  7. Anonymous says:

    Oh I had fun with your comments, thank you all!Blodeuedd I am still in two mind about him (either gay or impotent, these are viable options imvho).Melissa (BaT), I am glad you enjoyed the ride so much that you mentioned some important issues in your comment. First of all PERHAPS the concept of love is indeed unknown to vampires but I had an impression that the concept of lust is a very well-known drive. As that professor proved that anatomically vampires are like people, well, I think consumating their union wouldn't be such a strange thing after all.Secondly, according to the authors vampires and humans are two separate species so perhaps Adele won't be able to conceive even if she finally goes to bed with her prince. It is also not completely known whether their hypotetic child would be more human or more vampire or just a hybrid of those two species. I admit it is mind-boggling a bit. As it is an YA series I doubt if these issues are tackled in the last book – we'll see anyway.Melissa (isfo) thanks and you are welcome! I am glad you understand my twisted reasoning!Somehow I couldn't log in today – sorry!Ana

  8. Anonymous says:

    Oooohhh… how do you do that clever hidden-until-highlighted text? I want to have secret messages on my blog, too!Laura yet again)

  9. Anachronist says:

    The instruction of that super-secret process are going to be sent to you in an e-mail. 😉

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