Empire of the Vampire by Jay Kristoff
My rating: 4 of 5 stars
I've read a few of his co-authored works and one of his YA, but none of them truly excited me (aside from Illuminae) as much as the premise of this.
I mean, the title kinda says it all. It reminded me of what I wanted out of GURPS, the one with Mexico turning all normal humans into cattle for the vampire nation. But, no, no, this book isn't like that, alas.
What we actually have is a Medieval-setting hybrid, the feel of the declining Spanish-Empire with a gritty Grail-quest sentimentality and true enemies of the Cross, everywhere. The Epic Fantasy template, mixed thoroughly with horror and adventure and a whopping page count is something a bit unusual for the times. I mean, we used to get epic horrors all the time in the '80s and some in the '90s but then they all dropped out of favor, much to my chagrin, so this came as a pretty welcome sight.
But here's some of the nitty-gritty: As I was reading this, I was reminded of Andrzej Sapkowski's world of The Witcher, only streamlined to deal only with vampires. I won't say it was as good as the Witcher, but it certainly had some of that meandering feel, the hunts, surprises, and the sense of a bigger story being slowly unveiled. Later on, I was pleasantly shocked to enjoy the sensation that I was reading a riff on Between Two Fires, too, with a dash of Dan Brown.
All in all, I thought the entire long, soon to be much longer, epic horror was a pretty good read. It will really depend on how invested you are in the tale, of course, and how much you're invested in Gabriel. The first push of the novel and the last part, really picking up with the Grail, is absolutely the strongest.
I admit I lost a bit of my investment in the middle. But mileage varies for each of us, ya know?
Even so, I thought the whole book was pretty strong and if it goes above and beyond in the next huge tomes, I'm certain to ignore any of the sense of meandering from here on out. It's the journey, after all. Not the destination.
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