Book one of the Vampire Empire trilogy

Publication year: 2010
Format: print
Page count: 303
Publisher: Pyr

In 1870 vampires overrun the Northern countries of the world. Some humans fled to the South but most were killed or kept as livestock. No sane humans ventures anymore to Britain, Northern Europe or North-America. They are now a playground to the squabbling vampire clans.

In 2020, the Equitorian Empire and the American Republic are about to be united by marriage. Then, they will gather a huge fighting force which will destroy the vampires. However, it all depends on Princess Adele and Senator Clark getting married. They’ve never met; it’s all an arranged political marriage. Before her wedding, Adele and her young brother Simon, are touring the northern fringes of the country she will rule someday. They travel with heavily armed escorts but it doesn’t save them. A great force of vampires attacks. Adele fights them but is rescued by the Greyfriar whom she believed to be a myth. Together they evade the vampires for a while but eventually Adele is captured and brought to London, where the old vampire king lives. However, King Dmitri is old and feeble-minded. His younger son Prince Cesare is ambitious, hates humans, and wants to take his father’s place as soon as possible. Adele is a means toward that end. Fortunately, Dmintri’s heir Prince Gareth returns to court after a century of absence and protects Adele.

Meanwhile, at Equitoria’s court Senator Clark arrives and is furious to hear that his bride has been captured. He promptly retrieves Prince Simon. Clearly he’s trying to win over Equitoria’s people. He’s described as a vampire killer and a hero, and he lives up to it; he’s quick to jump to action and reckless in battle, however, he’s also very dismissive of everyone who isn’t an adult male soldier, which doesn’t bode well for Adele’s future.

Adele is a warrior princess; she’s been raised as a fighter and she’s so effective at killing vampires that the Greyfriar is awed. This was apparently the first time she encounters vampires who aren’t captives, so it’s her first practical fighting experience. She also has some other powers she isn’t aware of. Her mother was a Persian woman and she takes after her, so she’s unpopular at court (in Alexandria). She’s courageous and decides that she won’t show fear to the vampires. Instead she finds means to make weapons and escape.

The other main character is the Greyfriar, Adele’s romantic interest. The Greyfriar’s actual identity is a secret, which I unfortunately guessed rather early. He’s a lone fighter, a vampire killer who saves humans from the clutches of vampires, a legend.

The only thing I didn’t really care for in the writing style is quick changes in POV character; the POV can change inside a paragraph.

The vampires in this world are considered to be a different species but the scientists at Alexandria aren’t sure if that’s true because they don’t have many vampires to study. The free humans think of vampires as mindless killing machines. This changes when Adele is brought to the vampire court and she starts to learn about what vampires are really like. Of course, it’s quite dangerous to fight an enemy based on wrong assumptions. The vampires meanwhile think that human culture is meaningless and keep their humans in pens, almost mindless. These vampires aren’t afraid of sunlight but heat makes them weaker. They’re faster and stronger than humans and can fly but some other vampire ”facts” don’t apply.

Religion is also a part of the setting. Many humans have abandoned faith for science and openly despise religious people. A few still believe that vampires can be kept at bay with religious symbols and something like that seems to the case. Most likely, this will be further explored in the next books.

There’s also a mysterious group of scholars who use magic but they were only seen in two scenes.

This was an entertaining book and I enjoyed the setting quite a lot, however it doesn’t have much new to offer; instead it uses old tropes (like the plucky princess, a power behind the throne, and a mysterious figure with a secret identity) rather effectively. While the romance quotient was rather low in this book (expect for last quarter of the book) I’m afraid that will take over the coming books.