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Oct 10, 2021

Empire of the Vampire by Jay Kristoff

Sunday, October 10, 2021

Empire of the Vampire by Jay Kristoff
Published by St. Martin's Press, September 14, 2021; 752 pp. 
Illustrations by Ben Orthwick
Personal eBook copy 
From holy cup comes holy light;
The faithful hand sets world aright.
And in the Seven Martyrs’ sight,
Mere man shall end this endless night.

It has been twenty-seven long years since the last sunrise. For nearly three decades, vampires have waged war against humanity; building their eternal empire even as they tear down our own. Now, only a few tiny sparks of light endure in a sea of darkness.

Gabriel de León is a silversaint: a member of a holy brotherhood dedicated to defending realm and church from the creatures of the night. But even the Silver Order could not stem the tide once daylight failed us, and now, only Gabriel remains.

Imprisoned by the very monsters he vowed to destroy, the last silversaint is forced to tell his story. A story of legendary battles and forbidden love, of faith lost and friendships won, of the Wars of the Blood and the Forever King and the quest for humanity’s last remaining hope:

The Holy Grail.

Author Jay Kristoff is well known for his young adult fantasy series such as Aurora Cycle, Illuminae Files, but Empire of the Vampire is definitely not for the young reader. It is a twisty, dark, smutty fantasy tale with Game of Thrones vibes and has one of the most intriguing anti-heroes that I have ever come across in its MC Gabriel.

I am not one to say I like vampires, yet I also read A Southern Book Club's Guide to Slaying Vampires (for book club) and that one was a little more shocking on purpose for the thrill of it which was simply over the top. Empire of the Vampire by Jay Kristoff does it right: An entire world of clans of witches and vampires, distinctions between highbloods and palebloods, and a church in the same world.

"That saints and sinners suffer one and the same. I know every time you give a piece of yourself to someone, you risk them breaking it. I know there are some wounds that never truly heal, and sometimes all that’s left of people are their scars. I know time eats us all alive.”
I love the religious aspect of the story: there's a lot of faith and loss of faith but strong redemption vibes, full of hope threads throughout. 

Readers compare this to Interview with a Vampire which I haven't read but I can say this is a similar narrative that upon capture Gabriel is telling his story to a historian, so there are a lot of punctuation quotes in this book. Otherwise this is an entirely new level of vampires. 

"I’ve seen armies of faithful men slaughtered like hogs while God stood by and did nothing. I’ve seen parents eat their children. And I can’t say it gets better. I can’t tell you I believe like Chloe did – that you’re going to be the one to fix all this. I won’t lie to you like that.” 

There is a bit of a slow build up as we are trying to see why Gabriel is imprisoned as the story begins. Gabriel proceeds to tell us his story of a unique day's death world that the author has created, complete with various creatures and swords that speak. We are jostled about from bloody event to bloody event in slightly different time frames, but it is such a good beautiful slow bloody torture.
 There are so many things going on there is no way that the author could edit this chunkster down from its 752 pages but also a special treat is the illustrations. And there is no way to easily express in my own words the perfection of reading bliss that Empire of the Vampire by Jay Kristoff bestowed upon us. 

I bought the eBook as there was no way I could wait for a hard copy to arrive via the postal office and these are some of the screen grabs from the eBook:

The author has done a great job of pre - selling multiple special editions and I am still a little bit annoyed that I haven't scored one of those but I am trying to simplify my living space and continue buying ebooks plus there's that instant satisfaction for downloading immediately, but I am not going to say no right away for his next release of a special edition which I pray that he will release book two ASAP. While I tend to forget about characters and specifics between releases of books of a series I do not think I will ever forget this book it was that amazing of an experience for me. 

Empire of the Vampire by Jay Kristoff:
Definitely a Five Star Favorite.

Not for the feeble stomach. 
Probably a zillion trigger warnings.

There is blood. Sex. Heresy? Lots of gore. Language. Everything else spicy is here. You are warned.