The Geomancer is the first book in a new series by Clay Griffith and Susan Griffith. This series is called GARETH AND ADELE, and The Geomancer follows Empress Adele and Garth, her lover, the turncoat vampire prince who uses an alias to fight his people.
In the alternate world these stories inhabit, it is the late 2020s. Two hundred years earlier, vampires, which are a separate species, banded together in clans and over-ran human settlements, particularly in cooler climates. While they do not use weapons, these vampires can go airborne by changing their density and they are inhumanly strong and fast, with claws and fangs. They do not like heat, so were unable to conquer equatorial areas. Adele is the Empress of a large empire called Equitoria, whose capital is Alexandria. She is a powerful earth magician or geomancer. In the previous series, Adele has used these powers to rout vampires from Britain.
As The Geomancer opens, European vampires have joined forces with a human geomancer named Goronwy, who has found a way to use the earth’s ley lines as a weapon against humans. Adele and Gareth race to find a powerful artifact that, in Goronwy’s magical system, will threaten all life on earth. The two vampire fighters must keep it out of his hands.
I haven’t read any of the VAMPIRE EMPIRE books, but John Hulet’s reviews here, here and here helped me out. I have at least a limited understanding of the underpinnings of the world of Adele and Gareth.
The books opens with a spooky, suspenseful scene that proves that peace, in Britain at least, is short-lived. The Geomancer is filled with personal combat scenes between vampires and humans, and vampires and vampires, and those action sequences are good. So is the travel writing, especially when Adele and Gareth travel by airship to the Himalayas in search of the artifact. In Europe, many younger vampires are questioning the rightness of the Vampire Empire, and this promises to be a theme in this series.
I especially enjoyed the mysterious abbot Yidak and the vampire monks in a remote monastery, and I liked the description of geomancy.
Fans of the series will probably enjoy this book. The dialogue between Adele and Gareth is smooth, and the book moves at a good pace. The story expands Adele’s understanding — and ours — of the fearsome power she possesses.
I’m a little tired of vampires, and I don’t fully understand this world, so the book was not a big hit with me. I don’t understand how a vampire clan can have a king named Dmitri, a prince named Cesare and one named Gareth, although I guess vampires get to choose any name they want. I don’t understand why a Middle Eastern empire with Alexandria as its capital has royal siblings named Adele and Simon. Gareth is a great action hero, but spends the time between fights moping about his purpose in life, and finally decides his role in the world is to be Adele’s boyfriend.
I hope the title of this series means that Adele is going to abdicate and turn governance over to kid brother Simon, or, really, anybody, because she is no empress. She is plausible as a vampire-hunter, but a fright as a political ruler: impulsive, inconsistent, focused on her personal object of vengeance instead of the safety and health of her subjects, and so weak politically that near the end of this book, when her generals rebel against her in the middle of a military campaign, she does nothing about it. She’s every cliché of a weak woman ruler.
So, The Geomancer is not my kind of book, but I doubt the true fans care about Adele’s approval ratings back home. They want to see her doing what she does best: kicking vampire butt, using magic and smooching Gareth. And they should be pretty pleased with this book.
Vampire Empire — (2010-2015) Publisher: In the year 1870, a horrible plague of vampires swept over the northern regions of the world. Millions of humans were killed outright. Millions more died of disease and famine due to the havoc that followed. Within two years, once great cities were shrouded by the grey empire of the vampire clans. Human refugees fled south to the tropics because vampires could not tolerate the constant heat there. They brought technology and a feverish drive to reestablish their shattered societies of steam and iron amid the mosques of Alexandria, the torrid quietude of Panama, or the green temples of Malaya. It is now 2020 and a bloody reckoning is coming. Princess Adele is heir to the Empire of Equatoria, a remnant of the old tropical British Empire. She is quick with her wit as well as with a sword or gun. She is eager for an adventure before she settles into a life of duty and political marriage to man she does not know. But her quest turns black when she becomes the target of a merciless vampire clan. Her only protector is The Greyfriar, a mysterious hero who fights the vampires from deep within their territory. Their dangerous relationship plays out against an approaching war to the death between humankind and the vampire clans. The Greyfriar: Vampire Empire is the first book in a trilogy of high adventure and alternate history. Combining rousing pulp action with steampunk style, The Greyfriar brings epic political themes to life within a story of heartbreaking romance, sacrifice, and heroism.
GARETH AND ADELE