The Greyfriar: Wonderful first installment

Clay and Susan Griffith Vampire Empire 1. The GreyfriarClay and Susan Griffith Vampire Empire 1. The GreyfriarThe Greyfriar by Clay and Susan Griffith

The Greyfriar, an interesting blend of steampunk, alternate history and paranormal fantasy, introduces us to a British Empire that has relocated to North Africa after a hugely successful assault by organized armies of vampires. Humankind now lives in areas of the globe that offer the greatest chance for survival and resistance to the vampire threat. (This felt very much like the setting of S.M. Stirling’s The Peshawar Lancers in which Britain relocates to India after England was destroyed by a comet.)

The Vampires in The Greyfriar are similar to humans; scientists use the term Homo nosferatii to differentiate between the species. One of the biggest differences between them is that humans consider vampires to be loathsome wild animals — not the cultured, physically perfect sex objects that are so popular in urban fantasy today — and vampires consider humans to be merely food.

The Greyfriarfollows the adventures of Princess Adele, the heir to the Equatorian Empire, as she comes into conflict and eventual war with a large clan of vampires. Adele is rather cliché: a physically gifted noblewoman who is free-spirited, strong-willed… we have read about her many times before. She becomes involved with a legendary warrior, the Greyfriar, whose exploits in combating vampires and campaigning on their home turf makes him a hero.

Other characters include Prince Gareth, a vampire prince who is not your typical bloodthirsty killer; Senator Clark, Princess Adele’s fiancé and a heroic vampire fighter from the Western Hemisphere; Mamoru, Princess Adele’s spiritual advisor; and Prince Cesare, the leader of the clan of vampires that is hunting Princess Adele. These are interesting characters, but at times I wished that the Griffiths would not allow us omniscient interaction with all of them. Sometimes I knew too much of the thoughts and motivations of everyone, and the story might have been more compelling if fewer characters were completely revealed.

An important theme in The Greyfrier is the conflict between science and religion. Mankind, for the most part, has turned its back on the religious convictions that it had previously held and that may not have been wise. In essence, faith and religion are somehow tied into a magical world that has been previously unknown by all but a few. I am guessing that this storyline is going to be increasingly important in future books.

On the whole I really enjoyed The Greyfriar. It was a lot of fun to read — interesting characters and plenty of adventure. I really look forward to the continued technology versus magic theme. As a first installment in a series, The Greyfriar is wonderful.


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JOHN HULET is a member of the Utah Army National Guard. John’s experiences have often left a great void that has been filled by countless hours spent between the pages of a book lost in the words and images of the authors he admires. During a 12 month tour of Iraq, he spent well over $1000 on books and found sanity in the process. John lives in Utah and works slavishly to prepare soldiers to serve their country with the honor and distinction that Sturm Brightblade or Arithon s’Ffalenn would be proud of.

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9 comments

  1. I’ve been hearing lots of good things about this one lately!

  2. @Kelly -I was about to comment that very same thing.

    This isn’t normally something that appeals to me. (It seems somewhat like E. E. Knight’s Vampire Earth of which I read the 1st one; The Way of the Wolf and while that was an ok book for me, I didn’t like it enough to read the rest of that series.)

    But the hype had already pegged my interest and John’s review is exciting. I’m especially interested in the religious themes that are mentioned.

  3. The theme of faith in this book is really interesting. They don’t do a lot to develop it until later in the book and it’s not like a Christian theme….I really liked it. I also liked that the vampires were really blood-thirsty monsters for the most part…. I don’t want to like them, unlike many other UF books.

  4. I have this one on the shelf too, and despite usually not reading vampire fiction, I was planning to read and review this one too.

  5. I just got word that I’m being sent this in the mail. I’m kind of excited to read it. I think vampire are, by and large, very overdone but the good review makes me excited about reading it.

  6. Barbara Elness /

    I just finished this book a couple of days ago. I absolutely loved it. The vampires are deadly dangerous and evil, the steampunk/alternate history world building is fascinating, and the technology versus magic was intriguing and not fully explored yet in this first book. I’m very much looking forward to further books in this series.

  7. A couple of weeks ago I would have said I’d NEVER read this book, but I’ve been seeing these good reviews and now I’m wondering….

  8. Really??? It sounds like such a horrible mesh of every possible abused fantasy trope known to man, and I am practically immune to tropes. I’ve even had my trope shots, and this book’s description frightens me. I am very curious now…lol. Consider it added to my TBR list.

  9. Ok, ok… Hold on. This is a good book. It’s not a 5-star book, it’s not on a par with Rothfuss, Wurts, Erikson etc. It’s a good blend. My 16 year old daughter just read it and loved it, so it’s not super gory, super violent. I just don’t want anyone setting expectations this book won’t deliver.

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