Tuesday, September 6, 2011

The Rift Walker - Clay & Susan Griffith

About the book

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 her 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 disarrray, 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 power 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 Adele's beloved Greyfriar.

The Rift Walkeris the second book in a trilogy of high adventure and alternative history. Combining rousing pulp action with steampunk style, the Vampire Empire series brings epic politcal themes to life within a story of heartbreaking romance, sacrifice, and heroism.

300 pages (paperback)
Published by: Prometheus Books
Published on: September 20, 2011 (expected date)
Author’s webpage

Thanks to Pyr for sending me a copy of this book to review.


Clay and Susan Griffith made quite an impression with their novel The Greyfriar, which is the first book in the Vampire Empire trilogy. The Greyfriar was a fun adventure which seamlessly blended alternative history, steampunk and a sort of urban fantasy feel into something new and unusual that readers loved. The question remained, however, as to whether they could pull it off a second time for the second book in the Vampire Empire trilogy.

The second book in trilogies usually leaves me a little frustrated. They tend to feel more like bridges between the start and end rather than actual books themselves. Second books are the books where things seem to happen, but almost nothing resolves. It’s the book that builds the crescendo for readers to be wowed by book three. Thus, I usually go into them a little skeptical and a little jaded. The blessed thing with The Rift Walker is that my jaded and skeptical feelings never amounted to anything. This second book is different from most others out there. It’s not just a bridge serving its function to get from the start of the series to the finish.

Where The Greyfriar took place in the cold north, The Rift Walker takes place in Equatoria.  The Griffith team really expand on the world and cultures inhabiting the world in The Rift Walker. Rather than doing this by using infodumps, they take the reader through Alexandria, Cairo and other exotic places to experience the new cultures, peoples and struggles with their own eyes. Furthermore, the function of the government and empire itself is far less mysterious in The Rift Walker. The empire itself becomes understandable, real and interesting where before it was more mysterious – an important aspect of the world but wasn’t incredibly tangible.

It should stand to reason that this book seems to focus more on Adele and her world rather than the Greyfriar and his. However, the cast and characters expand just like the world. Plans and plots are made known. Questions are answered while more are asked. Each character seems to get their own time in the limelight and they do marvelously with it. However, it truly is Adele that shines. She’s well rounded, interesting and more adult than she was in The Greyfriar. Furthermore, the Griffith’s do a wonderful job highlighting Adele’s inner struggles with learning more about who she is and her place in the world, as well as her outer ones which involve her impending marriage and various other issues surrounding her position as heir apparent to an impressive empire.

The Rift Walker is nonstop action from the first page. While much of this is incredibly predictable, it doesn’t detract from the fun of the work as a whole. In fact, the overall fun and adventurous tone and the incredibly expanded world seem to make any predictability a nonissue. There is something here for everyone, from treachery, to political maneuvering, romance and even darker moments. The Rift Walker is well rounded and nicely balanced with a more vibrant and well-rounded world than its predecessor.

All in all, The Rift Walker is a strong addition to the Vampire Empire trilogy and is, far and away, stronger than it’s predecessor, The Greyfriar. This book stands out in the fact that it’s not like most other middle-of-a-trilogy books. The Rift Walker expands on the world and characters. The plot speeds forward at a breakneck pace. The characters are engaging, realistic and expanded upon just like the world. The writing is fluid and visual. If the book is a bit predictable, all the other elements work together to make the predictability a nonissue. The Rift Walker is fairly self-contained; yet open enough to allow a strong third and final installment to the series. This is a book fans of the series should watch out for. They won’t be disappointed.

4/5 stars

1 comment:

  1. Still need to read the first one, I'm thinking late this month or early next month.