Book Review: The Kingmakers by Clay Griffith and Susan Griffith
A review copy was provided by the publisher in exchange for an honest review. All opinions are my own.
Series: Book 3 of Vampire Empire
Publisher: Pyr (9/4/12)
Mogsy’s Rating: 4 of 5 stars
I was so happy when I found out that Clay Griffith and Susan Griffith were returning to the world of Vampire Empire this fall with another Adele and Gareth book. Even though you can read the upcoming novel as a stand-alone without reading this trilogy first, I still wanted to find out how things will end in the third book before tackling The Geomancer. Plus, I am a completionist at heart.
It’s actually been quite a while since I read the first two books in this series, but this is a very special world full of very special characters, the kind that stay with you for a long time. I jumped right back in with no problems, and it was like I never left. War between humans and vampire is at full tilt, with Empress Adele of Equatoria launching a campaign to take back the lands of the north. Fighting at her side is her consort, the vampire Prince Gareth who is helping the human cause in his guise as the legendary Greyfriar.
The Equatorians also have a secret weapon – Adele herself. A talented geomancer, she has the ability to use the powers of the earth to burn away vampires in vast numbers. But geomancy has its costs. As surely as it kills vampires, the power also poses a danger to her beloved Gareth, not to mention every time she uses geomancy it drains her energy and threatens her own life. After a huge attack on the heart of vampire territory, Adele sees the destruction she has wrought and starts to wonder if there is another way to wage this war. Gareth seeks a chance to do affect change as well, using his influence to undermine the efforts of his brother Cesare, who has become the new king of the vampire clans.
This book is full of bloody battles, hidden alliances, and betrayals. It’s a lot to fit into the concluding volume of a trilogy, but in spite of this, the novel is well balanced and pulls everything together in a spectacular finish. Of all three books, The Kingmakers is probably the most action-packed and fast-paced, building up to the climax of the war.
And yet, there’s also plenty of what first drew me to this series: the romance! In between all the intense fighting and war planning, it’s good to see that Adele and Gareth are still able to find ways to spend quality time together. When it comes to forbidden love, theirs is one of my favorites. So many tales involving star-crossed lovers rely on unnecessary drama and emotional manipulation to keep things “interesting”, but there’s no need for that nonsense when it comes to Adele and Gareth. Throughout the trilogy, their romance has never once felt contrived to me, with their relationship rising above all those cloying clichés. It’s always good to see them as a team, with the Greyfriar’s resolve complementing the Empress’s indomitable spirit.
The Kingmakers is an emotional finale, filled with difficult choices and dark twists. You might be surprised at how things end. For me, it was a satisfying conclusion to the trilogy, and that’s what mattered. Clay and Susan Griffith did something very amazing here, taking a tired old trope like vampires but still somehow managed to make it interesting and unique. Throwing in the alternate history and steampunk setting was a stroke of genius as well.
This book has only cemented my love for this world and the characters. Thinking about the sweet moments like the scenes of Gareth and Adele together at the opera house or at the Great Library of Alexandria still makes me smile. It has also made me realize that it’s probably a good thing that I read this only after I found out there’s another Vampire Empire book on the horizon. Clearly, I’m not ready to say good bye just yet! Now onwards to The Geomancer!