The war against the vampires by the exiled British Empire has stalled and is threatening to peter out, which could lead to a complete loss of the British Empire’s ancestral lands in England. To reclaim that momentum, the rulers in Alexandria — specifically, Queen Adele — mount a desperate attack upon the vampires with the assistance of the legendary warrior Greyfriar in the besieged town of Grenoble. The Greyfriar knows that time is short, for though the humans have made strides, they are now losing the war.
Thus begins Clay and Susan Griffith’s finale of their Vampire Empire series, book three: The Kingmakers. Everything across Europe is in disarray for both the vampires and humans alike. Cesare, younger brother of Gareth (aka the Greyfriar), has ascended to the throne of England’s vampire clans after murdering his father. However, Cesare doesn’t understand just what hole he had dug himself into as he attempts to unify the clans to wipe out the human resistance once and for all. For getting vampire clans to work together is much akin to herding cats.
Using her new-found powers of geomancy, Adele has come to Grenoble to assist General Anhalt and the Greyfriar in retaking the town. A dangerous mission for the Empress, but her growing powers have to be used or else the entire army will be overrun. Sensing this, Greyfriar guides her into the vampire-held city — even though the geomancy is just as dangerous to him as it is to every other vampire. Even death, though, would not be able to keep the Greyfriar from protecting his love.
This book is a strong finish to the Vampire Empire series. Not a stunning conclusion, as there are little surprises to be had this late into the game. The reader, by this point, is intimately familiar with the main characters and know that there will be no deviation from their destinies. Any change of path by the characters at this stage of the game would be off-putting, and fortunately the authors stay true to their creations. The pacing is not nearly as fast this book as with the previous two, though the plotting and action are tighter wound this time. A few of the minor characters continue their progression to either the light or dark, with the key to it all being the love between Adele and Greyfriar. Can their combined powers defeat the mighty vampire clans? Can their love save one another from the ultimate betrayal?
The only quibble with the book is the absence of Senator Clark through the beginning half of the book. While his overtures for the Empress were shot down repeatedly (including Adele running off with Greyfriar at the moment before her wedding to the American Senator was to commence), his dogged nature would have been an added and welcome element to the beginning stages of the book. However, even Clark’s fate is interwoven with the Greyfriar and Adele, and the authors deftly handle the senator in perfect fashion. However, his absence doesn’t take anything away from the book, merely leaving the reader with the thought of “What happened to that one guy?” as the story moves along.
A splendid book, one that fittingly concludes the trilogy. It is sad to see this series come to an end, but as they say, all good things must. A must-buy for fans of steampunk, fantasy, or who need to read a great story.
—Reviewed by Jason