Thursday, September 08, 2011
First Published: 2011
The Blurb: Princess Adele struggles with a life of marriage and obligation as her Equatorian Empire and their American Republic allies stand on the brink of war against the vampire clans of the north. However, the alliance’s horrific strategy for total victory drives Adele to abandon her duty and embark on a desperate quest to keep the nation from staining its hands with genocide. Reunited with her great love, the mysterious adventurer known to the world as the Greyfriar, Adele is pursued by her own people as well as her vengeful husband, Senator Clark. With the human alliance in disarray, Prince Cesare, lord of the British vampire clan, seizes the initiative and strikes at the very heart of Equatoria.
As Adele labors to bring order to her world, she learns more about the strange powers she exhibited in the north. Her teacher, Mamoru, leads a secret cabal of geomancers who believe Adele is the one who can touch the vast powers of the Earth that surges through ley lines and wells up at the rifts where the lines meet. These energies are the key to defeating the enemy of mankind, and if Princess Adele could ever bring this power under her command, she could be death to vampires. But such a victory will also cost the life of her beloved Greyfriar.
The Rift Walker is the second book in a trilogy of high adventure and alternate history. Combining rousing pulp action with steampunk style, the Vampire Empire series brings epic political themes to life within a story of heartbreaking romance, sacrifice and heroism.
The review: I reviewed the first volume of this series last year, thoroughly enjoyed it and have been pleased to see that the book went on to receive much critical acclaim. If you haven’t read the first book then please note that this review might spoil aspects of it and… well, why not?
The Vampire Empire series stands out because of its unabashed steampunk leanings and that is both great fun and a refreshing direction for the genre. It creates a world where science (albeit steampunk science) and magic clash head on and this is a major theme of this volume as Adele taps into her powers.
This volume revealed some of the political machinations hinted at in the first volume, adding a cultural depth to the narrative but in the characters, specifically (though not exclusively) in Adele and Greyfriar, we get the true depth of narrative. The blurb mentions ‘heartbreaking romance, sacrifice and heroism’ and this is found within the two main characters. In the first volume we discovered that the masked Greyfriar was actually the vampire Prince Gareth who had betrayed his own race in order that he might fight for humanity. Now, in this, we see the forces of politics and the weight (and crumbling) of secrets pulling at the two lovers as well as the fact that the more adept Adele becomes in her powers, the more poisonous her very presence is to her love. I am sure the idea of sacrifice will become a cornerstone of the third volume but, for now, you should be reassured that Adele is no teen-romance heroine. She is a strong, independent and regal character in her own right.
I really enjoyed the first book, however I loved the second. The story built apace and left me eagerly anticipating the final part. 8 out of 10.