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The Rift Walker: Book Two: Vampire Empire
Clay Griffith and Susan Griffith
Pyr, 398 pages

The Rift Walker
Clay Griffith and Susan Griffith
Clay Griffith and Susan Griffith are a married couple who have written and published together for more than a decade. Their credits not only include two novels for Bantam Doubleday Dell in the mid-1990s and another novel for Pinnacle Entertainment Group in 2002 but also numerous short stories published in many anthologies. They've also written scripts for television and published graphic novels.

Clay Griffith and Susan Griffith Website
ISFDB Bibliography: Clay Griffith
ISFDB Bibliography: Susan Griffith
SF Site Review: The Greyfriar

Past Feature Reviews
A review by Nathan Brazil

'The room erupted with gasps, shouts, and applause. Adele stood transfixed with astonishment and cried Greyfriar's name with elation. Smoky glass-covered eyes snapped toward her voice. Without hesitation, she bounded around the stunned figure of Lord Kelvin, as best she cold in her bulky wedding dress.'
The Rift Walker opens with Princess Adele struggling to reconcile her duties with the call of her heart. The Equatorian Empire and their American Republic allies stand on the brink on an ill-conceived war with the vampire clans of the north, and the genocidal strategy formulated by Senator Clark drives Adele to desperate measures. Reunited with her love, the mysterious Greyfriar, Adele soon finds herself pursued by her own people, in addition to the bombastic Senator Clark. The American, despite an interrupted wedding ceremony, still considers himself to be her husband and, by default, the future Emperor. Meanwhile, aided by a highly placed human traitor, Prince Cesare, Lord of the British vampire clan, is able to launch a severely disruptive attack into the heart of Alexandria. As disaster literally falls from the skies, Adele and the Greyfriar find themselves far, far away, on the run and encountering danger and near death in the mountains of Eastern Africa. Underpinning the main thrust of the story are the subtle machinations of Mamoru, Adele's old teacher, as he seeks to encourage the development of her growing geomantic powers, and retain control over how she uses them.

At heart, this is a steampunk vampire novel, with undertones of romance. As steampunk, I thought it worked well, racing along at an entertaining pace and providing genuine character development. The vampire element, too, has progressed nicely, in particular with the characterisation of Prince Cesare, and those he has gathered around him. An intelligent vampire is always far more menacing than an animal, and Cesare's growing ability to think outside the box provides some clever plot twists. It is this element more than any other which serves to raise the series above the standard blood-sucking fare. This time around I found Adele more convincing as an action heroine, and the Greyfriar more credible because of his exposed weaknesses, and the occasional poor strategic decision. The one element that wobbled was the romantic angle. Yes, I could buy into Adele and the Greyfriar being attracted, and the bonds forged by their adventures growing steadily stronger, but that's about as far as it went. Unless I missed it, this relationship is never actually consummated, which given the desperate times they face, seemed unnatural and sometimes juvenile. These are adults, with adult needs and drives, yet they moon over each other like love-struck teens, seemingly unable to work up the courage to be grown up. Had this element been properly clarified in terms of whether a human vampire relationship was even possible, it would have further ratcheted up the tensions among Adele's allies, one of whom remains murderously opposed to her indulging in any kind of alliance or relationship with a vampire.

As with the first book in this series, The Rift Walker contains lots of enticing action, and some great moments, especially those featuring the supporting characters. Senator Clark, such a fabulous cartoon of the ugly American abroad, continues to rampage across the page like the proverbial bull in a china shop. Whereas, the vampire war chief Flay displays all the guile that Clark lacks, and because of this becomes a credible wild card for the future. The Rift Walker is very much a middle book, but the authors continue to write with flashes of style and panache which make this work a fun read.

Copyright © 2012 Nathan Brazil

Nathan Brazil
If Nathan Brazil were dyslexic, he'd be the dog of the Well world. In reality, he's an English bloke who lives on an island, reading, writing and throwing chips to the seagulls. Drop by his web site at

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