The Rift Walker

Vampire Empire, #2

Struggling to fulfill her obligations, Princess Adele, recovers from her experiences at the hands of the vampire clan of the north. Dreading her upcoming political marriage to American Senator Clark, Adele discovers the alliances horrifying plans for total victory. Seeing no other choice before her, Adele abandons her duty and begins a desperate journey in an attempt to keep her country from hurting itself by engaging in genocide. Back together with her only love, the mysterious warrior known only as the Greyfriar, Adele is pursued by her own people and the vengeful Senator Clark. With the Equatorian and American alliance in confusion, Prince Cesare, lord of the British vampire clans, strikes at the very center of power in Equatoria.

As Adele works to strengthen her position, she learns more about the strange powers she used in the north. Her trusted teacher, Mamoru, is the leader of a secret cabal of geomancers who believes Adele is "the one" who will rid their world of vampires by touching the vast power of the Earth surging through ley lines and welling up in rifts where the lines meet. He believes she only has to bring this power under her command and rid mankind of vampires, once and for all. Will the cost of Adele's using this power be the life of her beloved Greyfriar?

The Rift Walker by Clay Griffith and Susan Griffith is the fantastic second story in their alternative history trilogy, Vampire Empire. After having read the first book, The Greyfriar, I was a little worried this book might not live up to my expectations, however I'm glad to say I was not disappointed. I do however strongly recommend that you read this series in the order suggested by the authors due to the tremendous amount of world building which takes place in each book.

Princess Adele is a great character; young and visually striking, she's struggling against the constraints placed in her life due to her position, her gender and even to a small extent her ethnicity. Returning to the palace in Alexandria, she faces a political marriage she doesn't want and finds herself in a week political position. She's horrified to discover the war plans against the vampires begins with what amounts to genocide; the deliberate bombing of the humans in the north in order to "starve" the vampires by killing off their "food". Unable to stop the upcoming war or her upcoming wedding Adele feels the loss of her true love, the Greyfriar, even more. Her only respite is the study of her growing powers as a "geomancer" under her teacher, Mamoru. I liked Adele's character; she faced the horror of a vicious enemy among the vampires in the north but also recognized that not all vampires are the same. She feels compassions for the humans in the north and actively wants to rescue them. She's got a strong character and won't back down from what's wrong.

The Greyfriar is an intriguing character; a man of mysterious origin and many secrets, his identity is a well kept secret from everyone but the woman he loves, Princess Adele. While many would not understand his actions or motivation, the Greyfriar is a lot like a romantic action hero of the past, I think he's like Robin Hood or even Zorro. He's determined to fight Cesare and his regime of horror and wants to see reform among the vampires. Falling in love with Adele was something he hadn't planned on but it's something he cherishes. When he discovers a plot by Cesare to assassinate her on her wedding day, he knows he must go to her rescue, no matter what the personal cost. I really like how the authors have developed the Greyfriar's character; of all the characters in the book, he's the most sensitive to the plight of both the humans and the vampires in the north. He really believes there can be peace between them.

The scenes between Adele and the Greyfriar are very well written. Their romance is sweet and yet it's also heartbreaking because of everything which stands in their way. When the Greyfriar rescues Adele they must flee in order to save her life. The action really picks up at this point in the story and the political intrigue becomes a huge focus in the book with Adele and the Greyfriar on one side and Senator Clark and her father on the opposite side. The authors did a really great job pacing the story and keeping all of the different plot lines separate so while a lot is taking place, you won't get confused and most of the issues are resolved one way or another.

The authors then add additional tension by putting Adele and the Greyfriar in a situation where they must help the person providing them sanctuary by ridding his kingdom of vampires hiding in the mountains. Once again Adele and the Greyfriar have to face off against the vampires and Adele is forced to use her powers. Only this time Adele's powers are more powerful than before and are even dangerous for the Greyfriar. The secondary characters in this story are well written and are very important to the secondary political plot in the story. Treachery is everywhere, both among the humans and the vampires. There are really very few people the Greyfriar and Adele can trust.

The end of the story resolves some of the political intrigue but also opens another treacherous subplot. With everything taking place, will Adele and the Greyfriar be able to make their relationship work? And will Adele continue her studies even though it appears they could prove deadly to her love? You'll have to read The Rift Walker to find out. I know I'm anxiously waiting for the third and final installment in this trilogy to find out how the authors resolve it all.

Book Blurb for The Rift Walker

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.

Night Owl Reviews Oct, 2011 4.75