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Empire of the Vampire: The New First Book in…

Empire of the Vampire: The New First Book in 2021’s Latest Fantasy… (edition 2021)

by Jay Kristoff (Author)

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336761,354 (4.27)9
TWENTY-SEVEN YEARS HAVE PASSED SINCE THE LAST SUNRISE... A sensational new epic fantasy trilogy from the bestselling author of The Nevernight Chronicle.
Title:Empire of the Vampire: The New First Book in 2021’s Latest Fantasy Series from the Sunday Times bestselling author of Nevernight: Book 1
Authors:Jay Kristoff (Author)
Info:HarperVoyager (2021), Edition: 01, 736 pages
Collections:Your library, To read

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Empire of the Vampire by Jay Kristoff


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Showing 1-5 of 6 (next | show all)
I have learned to appreciate Jay Kristoff’s works with the SF series Illuminae Files, written together with Amie Kaufman, and later on with his dark fantasy series The Nevernight Chronicles, so you can imagine my excitement at the publication of this new book, where I was sure he would successfully combine his writing skills with one of my favorite themes in the genre - vampires. This first volume in what promises to be an amazing trilogy proved to be everything I was expecting and more, and also a fascinating read that kept me turning the pages despite the darkness permeating it - on this subject I have to acknowledge that reading The Nevernight Chronicles some time ago was a good preparation for what awaited me in Empire of the Vampire, where such darkness does not come only from the story itself, but is an integral part of its background.

The premise of the saga is that, some thirty years prior to the beginning of the story, sunlight was obliterated by daysdeath, a mysterious obscuring of the skies that turned the world into a permanently crepuscular landscape, allowing the vampires to safely come out of their hiding places and start feeding on humans, constantly encroaching on their lands and moving ever onward in what looked like an unstoppable tide. The only true defense against vampires is represented by Silversaints, a holy order of warrior priests whose peculiar abilities allow them to battle the bloodsuckers on an almost even ground: Gabriel de Léon, the novel’s main character, is one of these Silversaints - actually the last of them - and when we meet him he’s the prisoner of a vampire queen who wants to chronicle his story before reaping her vengeance on him for all her brethren lost to his sword.

What follows is a tale told through several different timelines: the present, where Gabriel relates his story to a vampire chronicler; the far past, showing the Silversaint’s childhood and the dramatic events that brought him to the brotherhood; Gabriel’s formative years, as he learns his skills and encounters the people who most matter in his life; and the more recent times, when he embarks on a dangerous quest that might bring the end of the vampires’ reign of bloody terror. The various timelines are not presented in a linear way, with jumps from one to another that might look erratic (and here I enjoyed the tongue-in-cheek shows of displeasure from the chronicler in his desire for a more orderly recounting) but instead create a sense of foreboding by hinting at some big tragedy that impacted Gabriel’s personality in a profound way.

De Léon is a brilliantly crafted character who breaks all the narrative “rules” required by the figure of the proverbial hero, since in his youth he’s both bold and reckless and tends to rush headlong into risky situations, more often than not making them worse; and in his maturity we can see him as cynical, world-weary and quite sarcastic of the mystique surrounding his person:

“You weep like a child over a dead horse, but shoot an innocent woman in the back and leave God-fearing men to be slaughtered by foulbloods. [...] What kind of hero are you?”

“Who the f* told you I was a hero?”

The story of his life is also the story of an individual who, through heartache and dreadful loss, comes to a sort of found family that gives him a firm purpose in life, and a faith in the power for good he can wield agains the encroaching tide of the vampires, but it’s also the story of how certain events bring him to disillusionment and the loss of that all-encompassing faith, turning him into the “fallen hero” we meet at the start of the novel. The older Gabriel possesses all the characteristics of a man we might despise: he drinks, he swears profusely, he does not care about the collateral damage his actions might bring about, he’s an addict - and here I digress by saying that sanctum, the substance he’s in constant need of, is something strictly linked to his nature and not a drug of choice (for want of a better definition), but I’m wary of saying more because it’s one of those details best discovered by reading the book. And yet, despite all these nasty traits, Gabriel comes across as a very relatable character, because we are able to see all the agony and grief he suffers in the course of his life and in the end we develop a bond with this man and come to care deeply for him - not least because we see how family is important to him, both the one he was born into and the one(s) he builds in the course of his life, creating ties of love and brotherhood that help him keep his humanity burning bright.

Gabriel is not alone here, however, and he’s surrounded by a number of equally well-defined characters that enrich the story and offer different points of view for the reader on this world and the way it has changed from a “normal” one since daysdeath abruptly fell on it. And of course there are the vampires: besides being the blood-craving creatures we can expect from the myth created around them, Kristoff’s vampires are particularly cruel, even sadistic, all their previous humanity burned away by their virtual immortality and the need for blood. Still, these creatures go even beyond such already ruthless limits, often showing a perverse pleasure in inflicting demeaning kinds of torture on their slaves, in an outward show of the inner hideousness that at times even translates into their appearance.

Empire of the Vampire is a grim, bloody book where hope rarely makes its appearance, where the heavily filtered sunlight struggles to battle the darkness and the coldness of the land, and yet it’s also a compelling story where courage and love, faith and determination can sometimes bring a light and make it all more tolerable. It’s also a fascinating tale that will keep you turning the pages and leave you wanting for more once you reach the end of this first volume. And no darkness will banish my hope that the next one might not be too far down the road… ( )
  SpaceandSorcery | Jan 14, 2022 |
This wickedly action packed rollercoaster ride was a tachycardia inducing, heart bruising pleasure to experience. I was given a sampler but I quickly got bogged down with the names and Vampire lineages and such so as soon as I was able, I bought the audiobook and man oh man am I ecstatic that I did because this narrator, Damian Lynch, was AWESOME!! He was able to produce a bevy of distinct voices, all with varying accents. I NEVER had to question who was speaking at any given moment or guess the tone with which they truly meant their words to have. Of course Jay Kristoff had a little part in achieving that but Damian Lynch made this book a new favorite, for me at least. I'll definitely be looking him, and his uber sexy, yummmmy, husky voice up and seeking out some more of his work.

Anyway... back to the book at hand.

Empire of the Vampire was extremely reminiscent of one of my all time favorite reads, The Name of the Wind, with an infamous "hero" recounting his escapades, trials and triumphs that lent him his "Hero" title... The Black Lion. He recollected (and in doing so he relived) his entire life... ups, downs and in-between, to a vampire that was chronicling our MC's, Gabriel De Lion, history from inside a jail cell. We are privy to his past through a quasi-reliable, beautifully written, recap of his entire life.

Kristoff brought Vampires back into the realm of ugly, nasty, nightmare fuel. The writing was equal parts evocative, poignant, graphic, atmospheric, at (many) times bleak and ohhhhh sooooo vivid. If you're looking for a sparkling, twinkly, pollyannaish vampire tale with romance and a saccharine sweet ending then you are SOL here because this book will take you to dark places and have you questioning if Happily Ever Afters can truly ever exist let alone within a world devoid of sunlight and populated by crazy, demon-like, blood sucking, atrocious creatures. And then there was that ending... an ending steeped in promise. I just this moment finished this book and already I pray book #2 comes out quickly.


I usually read a book in print and listen to an audiobook during the same time frame. This book was so raw, and visceral, gritty and dark (when I say dark I mean pitch of night with nary a star nor moonlight to shed a sliver of light), that it made the other book I was reading seem tame and boring. Was it fair to compare? No! BUT it was impossible not to and so I put 2 other books on hold because they couldn't match Empire of the Vampire's tone or fervor. This is new territory for me and I'm here for it. This was a long read/listen but 100% worth every minute spent. The characters were deep, well fleshed out and oh so beautifully, humanly broken and flawed. The background was a little confusing at first but Damian Lynch really brought it home and turned this LARGE tome into an awesome way to be immersed in and consumed by a tale. I HIGHLY reccomend this book... especially as an audiobook AND especially if you like books such as The Name of the Wind. I LOVED it!

~ Enjoy
*** I was given a sampler of this book from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review *** ( )
  BethYacoub | Oct 20, 2021 |
I already knew that I was going to love Jay Kristoff’s take on vampires. After all, I adore anything Mr. Kristoff writes, and vampires have had my heart since I was eight years old. Still, Empire of the Vampire not just exceeded my already high expectations. It blew them out of the water. If you could call a book perfection, then Empire of the Vampire is indeed perfection.

Anyone who has ever read anything penned by Mr. Kristoff knows that no character is safe under his hands. He has made a name for himself for putting his characters and his readers through the deepest, darkest levels of hell. There is a reason he has a mug that says “Tears of My Readers” after all. In Empire of the Vampire, it feels like all of his previous novels were nothing but warmups to the levels of violence and torture he inflicts on Gabriel de Leon and his readers. I saw one reader joke about making a drinking game out of the number of times someone stabs Gabe, with Mr. Kristoff himself replying that it would result in alcohol poisoning. The amount of blood that all of the characters shed throughout the book is staggering, but there is a purpose to it all. The violence helps shape the world in which Gabe lives, detailing the dangers in ways that mere descriptions could never hope to achieve.

At 752 pages, Empire of the Vampire is not a fast read, but therein lies some of its magic. The world-building is spectacular simply because Mr. Kristoff takes the time to do so. Nothing he writes is without purpose though, so any exposition is necessary and totally worth it. Mr. Kristoff’s world is so complete it is essentially real.

For all the betrayal and violence, Empire of the Vampire is one of the saddest, most gut-wrenching books I have ever read. The tender moments in between all the violence are what truly capture the reader’s heart. There are moments that are breathtaking in the love they capture. Gabe describing Astrid’s smiles, their stolen moments. Gabe’s interactions with Dior. These are the moments of hope within this story of violence and death and are also the moments when we see Gabe’s true essence.

Long-time readers will know it takes a lot for me to cry while reading. Books often trigger many emotions within me, but such utter desolation that tears require is rarely one of those emotions. Yet, Empire of the Vampire made me sob for the last few chapters. I cried so hard that my husband came into the room to check on me. This is more proof of the perfection that is Empire of the Vampire. ( )
  jmchshannon | Oct 12, 2021 |
This is the first book I've read by Jay Kristoff. It was breathtaking. It was hilarious. The illustrations were beautiful. It was only the sampler, though it was nearly half the book, I've already pre-ordered the hardback I loved it so much.
Gabriel is telling his story to a vampire that holds him captive and requires his story for his mistress. He is the last of the silversaints, a brotherhood of men who serve God by slaying vampires that have taken over the lands. The sun no longer shines due to a "curse" which shadows the land. This allows the vampires to expand their empire since they no longer have to hide from the sun.
Seriously, if you love a good vampire tale, this one is epic. It's very dark and definitely not for children. Though I have not read the Witcher series, I've seen the show and this book has a very heavy Witcher vibe to it. I highly recommend it. ( )
  Verkruissen | Sep 1, 2021 |
*giggles* it rhymes
  Faith_Murri | Dec 9, 2019 |
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TWENTY-SEVEN YEARS HAVE PASSED SINCE THE LAST SUNRISE... A sensational new epic fantasy trilogy from the bestselling author of The Nevernight Chronicle.

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