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Friday, May 4, 2012

Review: The Greyfriar

Posted by Charlene // Tags: , , ,
The Greyfriar
by Clay Griffith and Susan Griffith

Plot Summary:
In the year 1870, a horrible plague of vampires swept over the northern regions of the world. Millions of humans were killed outright. Millions more died of disease and famine in the chaos that followed. Within two years, once-great cities were shrouded by the grey empire of the vampire clans. Human refugees fled south to the tropics where the vampires could not tolerate the constant heat. They brought technology and a feverish drive to re-establish their shattered society of steam and iron amid the mosques of Alexandria, the torrid quietude of Panama, or the green temples of Malaya. It is now 2020 and a bloody reckoning is coming. Princess Adele is heir to the Empire of Equatoria, a remnant of the old tropical British Empire. She is quick with her wit as well as with a sword or gun. Eager for adventure before she settles into a life of duty, her world is turned upside down when she becomes the target of a merciless vampire clan. Her only protector is the Greyfriar, a mysterious figure who fights vampires from deep within their territory.

Expectations: Twilight through a glass darkly?  

My first introduction to the steampunk type novel with vampires, action, adventure, and romance.  It was all quite a fantastic ride.  At first, with all the expository information the authors have to set up, the beginning is a bit slow, but with the first attack of vampires, it picks up pretty fast.  The new take on vampire lore is interesting - vampires as beasts or animals.  I wonder if they are all capable of the level of humanity of the resident vampire hunk, Gareth.  Something I hope to find out when continuing with this series.  This novel had an intelligently developed mix of alternate reality, politics, intriguing vampire mythology (and biology), and cast of characters.  The time put into developing the world of the novel was well spent when the main conflicts start erupting, and I loved the suspense in finding out how Princess Adele is going to get out of her predicament.  

While reading the novel I was struck by what I thought of as two phases of the book - the "Scarlet Pimpernel" phase - where we are getting to know about the Greyfriar (but there is little of the humor in this like in the Orczy novels) and the second phase which felt very Disney's "Beauty and the Beast".  I kept hearing the beginning of the title song in my head as Adele found out more about Gareth.  And  particular scenes reinforced that for me: Adele encouraging Gareth to write, Gareth showing Adele his library, inviting her to eat with him, the fight between the "Gaston" of the story - Senator Clark - and Gareth on the parapet and then he holds Clark over? What?  Tale as old as time...  

This novel has many facets to it and a great gritty, realistic take on vampire mythology.  The slowly developing romance was also well done for me too.

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