The Kingmakers (Vampire Empire #3) by Clay Griffith, Susan Griffith

Book info:
Form: pdf format, e-book
Genre: steampunk with vampires
Target audience: YA

Synopsis (from Goodreads):

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

My impressions:

It wasn’t a bad ending of a series but also one which left me a bit disappointed and strangely detached. I would call it an ending of lost potential. Perhaps it’s been too long between this one and part 2. Who knows.

My first carping: a big epic showdown should be anything but slow. This one was slow. I expected battles, strategy and wartime mayhem, a whirlwind of activity I got pages and pages devoted to single battles, Adele’s angst over the Greyfriar and the difficulties in their relationship. Pages and pages of the Greyfriar’s own angst – about everything not exactly connected to the ongoing war. I think everything that happened and everything anyone felt in this book had to be accompanied by a rather long winded internal monologue, sometimes but not always switching to a dialogue.

Many of these scenes weren’t bad – like Gareth visiting the King of Paris (a nice scene but also one that ended up pretty irrelevant so hardly mattered in the end), or Gareth cooking for Adele. Adele re-uniting with Morgana. Adele talking with Sanah. Anhalt sparring with Senator Clark. Senator Clark’s war in the US. They were all good scenes, albeit overly written with too much monologue, but they were great in their own right for character development and exploration and just plain fun with this world and these people who I enjoy. But they weren’t relevant to the plot – if they were removed the ending would be exactly the same as it was with them. It did seem as if glue, holding the whole novel together, was too weak or simply forgotten.

Gareth was just a bore, there was nothing to him except for his love for Adele. Adele was supposed to mature and become a kick-ass empress which she did to some extend but also she could be surprisingly annoying. I didn’t understand why she kept questioning whether she should use her powers to kill the vampires despite the fact that 1) they were evil, most of them 2) they were responsible for millions of deaths and planned even more slaughter 3) they wanted to enslave humanity 4) they did nothing, literally nothing to persuade her and other humans otherwise. I suppose her defense of the vampires was meant to make her seem forgiving and compassionate but it just made her look like a dumb empress who wore her heart on her sleeve permanently, being the one and only person with super powers around enamoured with a real VAMPIRE who happened to be a decent guy and love her back.

Never mind that the future of humanity was in her hands, never mind that humans were dropping dead. None of that mattered if it hurt her centuries old lover (?). Everything seemed to fall into place too easily. Adele reads some doodles and realizes she’s the most powerful geomancer in the world at a time when all seems lost. A little too deus ex machina for my taste. All of the planning went nowhere, Adele saves the day and Gareth is immune to her geomancy now and they will be together and all ugly baddies who count are just killed, killed, killed. It served them right perhaps but it was also boring. No subtlety, no wits and no scheming. No compromises either.

Final verdict:

I expected this series to be better. I wanted this series to be better. Unfortunately I was a bit delusional about my expectations. I liked the first book the best, the second was weak and the last one was just so-so.

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5 Responses to The Kingmakers (Vampire Empire #3) by Clay Griffith, Susan Griffith

  1. Blodeuedd says:

    I really liked book 1 but they kind of got worse like they always do. Still I enjoyed them if I closed my brain

  2. Would you say this is the kind of series where the author set up as a series from the first, or where there was clearly only one book and the publisher/author decided to stretch it into a series?

  3. These ones were definitely planned as a series from the very beginning; still I am becoming wary of joint projects – if a novel has more than one author more often than not it means I would have issues with it. Even if it is a husband-and-wife combo.

  4. Aurian says:

    I do have the first book in this series on my shelves, I am sorry the ending is not better. Thanks for the review Ana.

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