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The Geomancer: Vampire Empire: A Gareth and Adele Novel Paperback – November 3, 2015
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"Neverworld Wake" by Marisha Pessl
Read the absorbing new psychological suspense thriller from acclaimed New York Times bestselling author Marisha Pessl. Learn more
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“A thrilling, original fantasy that scratches the gothic adventure itch like nobody’s business. Clay and Susan Griffith never disappoint!”
—CHERIE PRIEST, Locus Award–winning author of Boneshaker
“Action and intrigue in a complex, well-imagined world. A well-told tale, with plenty of excitement.”
—GAIL Z. MARTIN, author of War of Shadows
“Clay and Susan Griffith have done it again—brilliant worldbuilding with heartfelt characters result in a book that is intricate, beautiful, and impossible to put down.”
—KRISTEN PAINTER, award-winning author of the House of Comarré series
PRAISE FOR VAMPIRE EMPIRE:
"Vampire Empire is one of the best fantasy series I've read, set in a unique postapocalyptic world. The landscapes, the peoples, and the incredible gizmos will attack your senses. Their unforgettable characters will stay with you as the tale unwinds." - RT Book Reviews
About the Author
Clay and Susan Griffith, a married couple who have written and published together for more than two decades, are the authors of the Vampire Empire trilogy—The Greyfriar, The Rift Walker, and The Kingmakers—and the Crown & Key trilogy, as well as the first Vampire Empire: A Gareth and Adele novel, The Geomancer. Their credits include numerous short stories featuring noted genre characters like Kolchak the Night Stalker and the Phantom and comic books including The Tick and The Simpsons. They've also written scripts for the television/web show Monster Creature Feature. They live in North Carolina where they play World of Warcraft and struggle to entertain their cat.
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As in the previous three books, vampires have limited abilities to use tools, indulge in analytical thinking, or experience empathy. Raising children is a process of teaching them clan law, clan loyalty, and how to hunt. There is some affection, apparently, especially sexual, between mates, but children are essentially matters of duty.
Gareth and Adele are probably the least likely romantic pair imaginable under these circumstances. She is the Empress of Equatoria, a coalition of States in the Arab peninsula, which is the power in that part of the world. America also exists in this steampunk universe, but it is like something torn from a 19th Century novel. The rest of the world is loosely held by this or that vampire or human faction, with vampires concentrated in the North, in the Celtic and Scandinavian regions, due to their intolerance for heat.
As we've come to know Gareth, he is representative of evolution. He is the only vampire he knows who has chosen to use tools. He holds human culture in great reverence, unlike the rest of his species. He holds himself apart, and lives in an isolated castle in Scotland, surrounded by his cats, and Adele, whom he has, against all spiritual odds, fallen in love with. He also cares for his human population, letting them live freely, and only feeds from those who are willing to do this for him. He is loved by these people.
After the cataclysmic conclusion to the first trilogy, he is absolutely repudiated by the rest of the vampire world, and viewed as the Great Traitor of their kind. He lives apart, and disguises himself when he goes abroad. In the guise of The Greyfriar, who we have come to know in the Trilogy, he also mingles with humans. In this guise, he is the recognized consort of Adele.
This book, which I've gathered is the beginning to an entire new series, not, as I initially thought, just a one-off novel, is a thundering commentary on evolution. This book belongs to Gareth. While the events are related in a narrative style, not in first person, they are most often told from Gareth's perspective.
While in the first 3 books, Gareth yearned to feel things, and think as humans do, in this book he has realized that this is almost impossible for him. Throughout the book, he suffers from continual crises of faith or identity. He questions his abilities, and thinks, at one point, that if he doesn't "get brighter" he will lose Adele. He obsesses on his father, and the way he was raised. We watch one incident, while he is talking to Simon, Adele's young brother, as he is in the guise of The Greyfriar, as Simon asks him about Gareth. He is momentarily confused, before remarking on the type of man Gareth is. Simon grasps this, and says "man"? Gareth then corrects himself and says "vampire". We are actually seeing him as he is becoming a new type of species.
Another brand new aspect of this story is the existence of other vampires who feel similarly, but live in a remote Himalayan monastery. Gareth and Adele travel there on a mission, and are stunned to find this group of vampires who have a spiritual identity and moral compass which echoes his own. This further confuses him, after thinking he is the only one of his kind. We also learn that there are scattered groups of vampire bands who revere Gareth, but, for the most part, have distorted his actions, and turned them into a type of religion. They "follow" him as a sort of messiah who will lead them back to the proper way of life for vampires -- living in the dark, while humans live freely in the daylight. Gareth is distressed to learn this, and amused, at the same time that he realizes how badly it could backfire on him.
His one constant during this period is his love for Adele. He is still awed by the fact that he is in love. He had already developed empathy when he met her, but she created in him the need for spiritual and emotional fulfillment. His greatest fear in life is losing her.
Events in the rest of the world are proceeding towards the end of the War, which Adele, as a geomancer, has influenced in the humans' favor. Humans are winning. Gareth understands that vampires are on the losing side of history, and will likely lose, while the vampires haven't come to that conclusion. They have acquired a human of their own, another geomancer, who has discovered a way to pervert Adele's skills and undo her power. He also kills vast quantities of humans in the process. Why the vampires don't put this together and realize that they are destroying their food source is ironic, but, if it wins them the War, then I guess they think it's just collateral damage. This is the basic plot in the book -- finding and destroying this man before he can hand the world over, once again, to the vampires.
I loved this book. It differs in many ways from the first three. It breaks new ground thematically. We get to see "what happened after" the events that ended the first series. We also get to watch as Gareth grows spiritually, positing the possibility of the vampire species, in general, surviving and becoming a higher form of life. When we first met Gareth, he was proud of his desires to learn about culture, and revolted by his brethren's casual treatment of the great accomplishments of human history. His knowledge of humans has deepened since then, and his own spiritual development has reached a crisis point. We can easily see him abandoning his lifestyle, and reverting to what he once was, but for the fact of Adele. His greatest fears now center on keeping her love, which he feels he doesn't deserve. The happiness he experiences each time she reaffirms her feelings for him breaks my heart.
On one occasion, while showing him her photographs, he is distressed to see none of himself. Then, she pulls out a big box filled with nothing but photographs of him, and his satisfaction is evident. He also labors, in this book, over a "book" that Adele wants him to write, describing himself and his life. He can't get past writing that his father taught him to hunt, and he is a monster. He is stuck on that vision of himself. It is Adele who sees him as so much more than that, and emblematic of the possibilities of change that exist in all life.
And, that is the whole point of the book. Everyone -- man, beast or vampire -- can grow. We are watching the evolution of a new species.
I thought the book was magnificent. Is it a bit slower than the first ones? Sure. But, it is also much more intense on a deeper level. I've never been so pleased to see a continuation of a favorite series. So many times, authors try to recapture what it was that they accomplished the first time around, and seem to be riding on the popularity of their "big seller". And, it so rarely succeeds. That's not the case here. The Griffiths are taking this story off into the future, in a wholly new direction, with a wholly new premise. You must keep this in mind while reading. We're talking about something else, here.
5 Stars. Absolutely 5 Stars.
I was so happy to read more of Adele and Gareth's story as well as meeting new characters... Read the book in one breath.... Bring more :)