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Thursday, December 17, 2015


Author:  Clay & Susan Griffith 
Plot Type:  Urban Fantasy (UF)
Ratings:  Violence4; Sensuality2; Humor—1 
Publisher and Titles:  Pyr
    The Geomancer: A Gareth and Adele Novel (11/2015)

     The world-building for this spin-off series is fully discussed in my post for the Griffiths' VAMPIRE EMPIRE TRILOGY. Click HERE to go to that post, which contains a World-Building section and reviews of the three novels in the VAMPIRE EMPIRE TRILOGY. Reading through that post will provide you with an overview of the series mythology and will bring you up to date on recent events that have shaken up that world.

     Although this series could probably be read without first reading the novels of the VAMPIRE EMPIRE TRILOGY, you would be missing a lot of relevant information about people and events that are specifically referenced in The Geomancer. The authors do provide some bare-bones summaries of past events, but not much background on some of the key characters (e.g., Lady Hallow, the Witchfinder).

                              NOVEL 1:  The Geomancer                               
     The first Garath and Adele novel, The Geomancer is the start of an ongoing, character-based, urban fantasy series set in the same VAMPIRE EMPIRE universe as the authors' previous trilogy!

     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.

     The story is set about a year after the apocalyptic conclusion of The Kingmakers, and for most of that time, Adele and Garath have been living in vampire-free Britain. Garath is still keeping his vampire nature a secret from everyone but Adele, so he spends much of his time in his Greyfriar disguise. Both Adele and Garath are having emotional problems: Adele continues to have vivid nightmares of the night she destroyed Britain's vampires (including Garath), and Garath feels an increasing hatred for his vampire self. Both know that, for the foreseeable future, they must keep Greyfriar's true identity under wraps, because the humans of Alexandria despise and fear vampires and will never accept Garath as her consort (although they are happy to have Greyfriar in that role). 

     Adele has an additional problem in that when she destroyed the British vamps, she burned out all of the rifts (ley lines) in Britain, which means that she can't use her geomancer skills while she is there. "She had done more than just destroy all the vampires and make the island uninhabitable for them; she had silenced the power of the Earth here forever. Anywhere else in the world, the rift would sing to her. But not in Britain or Scotland." Adele feels guilty on several levels: that she probably should have destroyed all of the vampires on earth when she had the chance and that she laid total and permanent waste to the British rifts. As a side effect of that event, she has aged about ten years and now has a few facial wrinkles and streaks of gray in her hair. As of yet, she has not regained her magical strength, so she tires easily.

     The action part of the plot is introduced when a handful of vampires turn up in London, an event that should never have been possible after Adele's rift-burning performance. These vamps all wear mysterious blue crystals around their necks to protect them from Adele's powers. As Garath and Adele investigate, they discover a connection to the Witchfinder (aka Goronwy), a character who surfaced late in the original VAMPIRE EMPIRE trilogy and who has a connection to the villainous Dr. Selkirk, one of Adele's enemies who is currently imprisoned in Alexandria. 

     Now that Cesare and his minions are dead, Paris has become the capital of the vampire empire, with Lothaire and Caterina as its king and queen. But their son—the Dauphin, Honore—has come under the influence of the villainous Lady Hallow, who is determined to get rid of Lothaire and Caterina and become the power behind Honore's throne—with the assistance of the Witchfinder, who has a plan to rid the world of all humans.

     As Garath and Adele uncover more and more details about the Witchfinder's master plan, they head for a vampire monastery in the Himalayan Mountain Range that contains a magical object that holds the power needed for the Witchfinder to execute his plan. Along the way, they travel through Paris, where Garath discovers a small band of rebel vampires that reveres him as their supreme leader—kind of a fan club, really. They want him to lead them against the current vampire clan leaders so that they can go back to the old clan-free ways of the past. As Garath and Adele travel from country to country, they are constantly under attack from various vampire groups, so there are many (too many) repetitive descriptions of battle scenes scattered throughout the book.

     I truly enjoyed the three books of the original VAMPIRE EMPIRE SERIES, but I have to admit that I had a hard time getting through the early chapters of The Geomancer, mostly because of the many identical battle scenes that are set in a very slow-paced plot. When the couple heads for Tibet, the pace picks up and the story becomes much more interesting, particularly the scenes among the vampire monks in their mountain-top monastery. Yidak, the wise old Demon King of the monastery is a stereotypical Magical Asian, whose plot-purpose is to teach Garath how to accept both sides of his dual (vampire/human) persona. Yidak and his vampire monks are quite entertaining, and they definitely energize the story.

     I'm not sure why the Griffiths decided to add a new chapter to this series because the original series was so well constructed that it stands strong as a completed trilogy. This book feels like an awkward add-on with only a few chapters of real adventure. The authors state that this will be "ongoing, character-based, urban fantasy series," so my hope is that they will push Garath and Adele to the background and explore the lives and loves of some of the supporting characters, like Adele's brother, Simon, who is struggling to find his role in life. 

     Future plots will, no doubt, be dealing with the widening gap between the magic believers who accept the powers of geomancy and the science technocrats who scorn religion and mystical thought. Many of Alexandria's top politicians are technocrats who are expressing concern about "the rise in what is called fanaticism here in the homeland because of Empress Adele's open embrace of faith and magic." 

     Another major issue that must be addressed is the fact that Lady Hallow is Garath's former (long-ago) lover, a fact that is currently unknown to Adele. Expect some fireworks when she learns the truth of the matter. 

     Click HERE to read an excerpt from The Geomancer. 

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