Wednesday, November 4, 2015

#Wednesday Review & Excerpt - The Geomancer by Clay & Susan Griffith (Steampunk, Fantasy)

Series: Vampire Empire: Gareth & Adele
Format: E-Galley, 321 pages
Release Date: November 3, 2015
Publisher: PYR
Source: Publisher via Edelweiss
Genre: Steampunk, Fantasy

The uneasy stalemate between vampires and humans is over. Adele and Gareth are bringing order to a free Britain, but bloody murders in London raise the specter that Adele's geomancy is failing and the vampires might return. A new power could tilt the balance back to the vampire clans. A deranged human called the Witchfinder has surfaced on the Continent, serving new vampire lords. This geomancer has found a way to make vampires immune to geomancy and intends to give his masters the ability to kill humans on a massive scale.

The apocalyptic event in Edinburgh weakened Adele's geomantic abilities. If the Witchfinder can use geomancy against humanity, she may not have the power to stop him. If she can't, there is nowhere beyond his reach and no one he cannot kill.

From a Britain struggling to rebuild to the vampire capital of Paris, from the heart of the Equatorian Empire to a vampire monastery in far-away Tibet, old friends and past enemies return. Unexpected allies and terrible new villains arise. Adele and Gareth fight side-by-side as always, but they can never be the same if they hope to survive.

Welcome back to the Vampire Empire series by authors Clay and Susan Griffith. The Geomancer is actually the FOURTH installment in the series, with more to come! The Geomancer picks up a year after the conclusion of The KingmakersAs the series begins again, Equatorian Empress Adele (human) and Prince Gareth (vampire), aka Greyfrair, are spending time in Gareth's Scottish Castle after Adele destroyed all the vampires of England with her geomancer powers. 

The vampires believe that she is the Bringer of Death and fear her. But, what readers MUST understand is that she could have destroyed every single vampire in the world, but stopped short. After receiving word that vampires may have returned to England, Adele and Gareth set out to investigate how that is even a possibility. An investigation that leads them to Paris where Gareth has allies in King Lothaire and Queen Caterina, and a scary new adversary.

They also travel to the Himalayas (Tibet) where a powerful relic may be hidden. Along the way, Adele and Gareth meet new allies in Nadzia, Kasteel, Yidak, and Takeda. Each of these new allies bring hope that vampires and humans can find common ground and work together. Something Gareth is skeptical about, but Adele embraces gladly. Adele and Gareth also have powerful enemies. 

Enemies that would love nothing more than to see both of them dead. There is the powerful human called the Witchfinder. The Witchfinder is a geomancer like Adele, but has found a way to make vampires immune to her powers and intends to give his new masters the ability to kill humans on a massive scale.

My favorite villain, Flay returns along with a few remaining vampires from England. Flay is like a bad penny. No matter how many times you think she's dead, she keeps coming back for more intense fighting scenes and scary plans to destroy all humans. I don't think the authors will let Flay get away from them anytime soon. I think she brings an added darkness to the story that can't be matched. 

I don't know how much more I can gush about these authors, or Adele, and Gareth. I love the romance between the couple. They don't let a little thing like Speciesism interfere in what they hold in their hearts. They may have different ideas about how to do things, but there's no long term arguments, or angst to wade through. I absolutely love General Anhalt and how he's stuck with Adele through thick and thin, and has nearly died several times over fighting by her side. 

I love this world. One could definitely consider this world to be a mash-up of dystopian and steampunk. It is a world where in the winter of 1870, vampires rose up against the humans, and destroyed the world as we know it. The most interesting facet of this world is that vampires don't much care for the warm weather. That means that the world is divided into human territories in the south and vampire territories in the north. 

I love the cover to this story. It is perfect and it captures the essence of a really important scene in the book. Some have asked me if it is necessary to read the previous trilogy first. I would say yes since otherwise you will be completely lost in understanding why you should care about Adele, or Gareth, or even Prince Simon. 

One way or the other, once you read The Geomancer, you will be eager to go back and read the previous three novels starting with The Greyfrair. I do give the authors loads of credit. First, they came back to this series after 3 years away. Not many authors do. Second, they do a nice summary of events up to this point so that you can remember what happened in the previous novel. 

This city is dead. Stop jumping at shadows.”
“It’s not dead,” came the return mumble. “I hear things at night; whispers, hissing.”
Ruins of jagged stone surrounded the two soldiers as they made their rounds. Once grand streets overflowed with dark foliage and twisted vines that had reclaimed their territory. Narrow alleys buried in perpetual shadow led to dim warrens and long abandoned courtyards. Debris that littered the ground included long discarded garbage, crum­bled walls, and piles of bones covered in ash.
“There are no more monsters here in London,” the sergeant insisted sternly in Arabic. “They’re all gone. We’re here now to see that it stays safe. What you’re hearing is just the remains of the vampires’ human herds. They’ve taken refuge in what’s left of these old buildings.”
The second trooper held up a lantern to ward off the shadows that appeared to creep closer. The trembling lantern barely illuminated five feet in front of them as they walked the darkened path. Both men clutched pistols.
The sergeant kicked a skull that hosted sharp canine teeth. “I was at Grenoble. I saw with my own eyes vampires turning to dust before the might of our empress. And she did worse here. None of those monsters can set foot on these consecrated lands.”
A low moan sounded from ahead and the lantern’s light caught a pale white shape. The young private gasped and his pistol swung toward the ghostly figure as it shuffled out of sight. “Was that one of them—the herds?”
“Probably. Let’s make sure. The damn fool wasn’t wearing a stitch of clothes. It will die of the cold for sure on a night like this.”

“Why bother? If it’s stupid enough to stand out here, maybe it isn’t worth saving.”
“It’s been a slave its entire life. It doesn’t know any better. But it’s still human. Sort of.”
The two soldiers weaved toward the spot where they had seen the figure. Thin footprints in the light snow led them further down an alley. Amidst the rubble stood a building. The door was nothing more than a plank of wood, but that had been shoved to the side. Shining their lan­terns into the dark structure, they called out in English, “We are Equatorian soldiers. We’ve come to check on you.”
Low whimpers answered, along with some shuffling sounds. The lantern light penetrated a corner where dirty blank faces stared back. Five pitiful human forms huddled together, their bony arms clutching one another. Rationed blankets lay crumpled at their feet.
“Bah. They are even too stupid to know what a blanket is for,” mut­tered the nervous young trooper.
The sergeant stopped his companion’s grumble with a hard hand on his shoulder. There was another noise coming from the dark. A high-pitched keening and then grunts like an animal foraging.
Trying to keep his hand steady, the private swung his light. The yellow beam illuminated a lone woman standing with head bowed. She was nude, swaying on her feet. She was young, maybe twenty. Strands of unkempt blond hair lay in a tangled curtain about her face. This was the pale figure that had led them to this place.
“Here now,” the young man spoke, his tone suddenly softer, feeling ashamed for his prior scorn. “You’re safe.”
It was then he realized that the grunting wasn’t coming from her. The shifting light caught the sudden reflected glow of an animal’s eyes just behind her.
“Something’s in here with them,” he shouted.
A clawed hand stroked the naked woman’s hair, almost affection­ately. The creature smiled a rictus grin, sharp canines flashing, and licked her bare throat. The woman moaned and bowed low.

The sergeant’s lantern struck the same corner just as three new figures rose from the floor. Long arms dangled from thin pale bodies. They quivered and twitched, their muscles caught in some sort of palsied excitement. At their feet, four others crouched over a pile of prone bodies. Their heads jerked up and their grunting quieted as gazes locked onto new prey. Gaping mouths dripped black with fresh blood suckled from the torn throats of their victims.
The monsters had lured them here. The soldiers lifted their pistols, and gunfire boomed in the small chamber. The vampires lunged from the circles of light. Screams erupted as weapons and lanterns tumbled to the floor. The naked woman stood motionless, caught in a fallen beam of light, her expression slack as she watched the sickening feast at the doorway. She didn’t even blink, but stood waiting.

Then the lantern lights flickered out and the charnel house went dark.

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