Empire of the Vampire Review: Vampires Like You’ve Never Seen Before

October 14, 2021 by Jeann @ Happy Indulgence | 5 stars, Books, Reviews

Empire of the Vampire Review: Vampires Like You’ve Never Seen BeforeEmpire of the Vampire by Jay Kristoff
Series: Empire of the Vampire #1
Published by Harper Voyager UK on September 7, 2021
Source: Purchased
Genres: Adult, Adult Fantasy Fiction, Fantasy, Fiction
Amazon | Book Depository | Angus & Robertson | Booktopia
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From holy cup comes holy light;The faithful hands 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 couldn’t 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.
From the New York Times bestselling author of the Nevernight Chronicle, Jay Kristoff, comes the first book of an astonishing illustrated dark fantasy saga.

I’ve just finished this beast of a book last night and I’m still fuming. HOW COULD YOU JAY KRISTOFF?

But if that isn’t the reaction from reading any of the books he’s written, then it wouldn’t be right, would it?

So let’s dig into Empire of the Vampire – a book that has been hyped up all year, with thousands of dollars donated to charity in a bid to win ARCs. Was it worth the read? And more importantly, does it live up to the hype?

I don’t think I’ve ever read any vampire book quite like Empire of the Vampire – one that features a rich, fantasy land filled with lore, vampiric bloodlines that grant super abilities, and a main character who could only be described as a bastard (aside from also actually being one). I love how EOTV brings back vampires and makes them bloody, none of this sparkly teenage romance stuff that we’ve experienced so much of during the Twilight days. The vampires here are terrifying, from your average run of the mill horde-ling, to the more resilient highborn vampires, and then the really souped up ones descended from ancient bloodlines. These vampires will eat you with no hesitation and they’re hungry, brutal and coming for you.

Pictured: Illumicrate September box with exclusive edition of EOTV (purchased).

It’s probably not a surprise to anyone who’s read a Jay Kristoff book, but EOTV features lots of blood, lust, slaughter, violence and cusses. In a style reminiscent to The Name of the Wind, you’ve got the infamous main character, Gabriel de Leon, telling his story of how he came to be. We don’t know much about Gabe’s history, aside from what he tells the vampiric historian, Jean-François. You can tell there’s a lot of animosity between Gabe and the writer, and I loved the glimpses of how Gabe feels about his current situation every now and then when he takes a break from storytelling.

We learn of Gabe’s story as a young boy who is bastard-born, not knowing his heritage as a half-blood vampire. He’s soon shipped off to the cathedral of San Michon to learn how to harbour his skills and train with the other Silversaints. We learn of other legendary vampiric bloodlines that half-bloods can be descended from, inheriting their skills of their ancestors, such as super strength (Voss), and mind control. He becomes a part of the holy Silver Order, comprised of priests, Silversaints and the sisters nuns who adhere to a strong religion and philosophy behind everything they do.

“Too much hate will burn a man to cinders, Chevalier.
Oui. But at least he’ll die warm.”

The book follows in this same format as we jump from different parts of Gabe’s life as he recalls his time at San Michon, to an undefined time in the future when he assists a ragtag group of adventurers in a search to the Holy Grail. Without revealing too much, I loved putting the pieces together throughout the story, and finding out how different revelations affected Gabe in the present day.

Gabe is a complex grey character, although he’s somewhat of a drunkard, an addict who is jaded, he’s also immediately likable. Through EOTV, you get to fully understand the hardships, the pain, the wars he’s fought emotionally and physically, and you can see why he has become somewhat of a legend. I really enjoyed hearing more about Gabe and his story, putting the pieces together throughout the book and also seeing the man he’s become. The journey he takes you through EOTV is filled with darkness, deceit, brotherhood and the strong emotional bond with characters that form a part of his life. Also unexpectedly, I love how there is a strong family element threaded throughout EOTV, from the past and the present, which drives everything that Gabe does.

“Astrid was just as fierce a scholar as I was a swordsman. A girl who wielded books like blades.”

EOTV is filled with stunning illustrations throughout by the graphic artist Monolime Art, and I loved how they added that extra visual element to the story. The artwork is detailed and gorgeous, and it’s nice to visualise how characters and scenes are depicted by the author.

Empire of the Vampire features a lore-filled, rich fantasy world featuring ancient vampiric bloodlines, with vampires that are actually scary. I really enjoyed the story told by The Last Silversaint (bastard that he is), as he recalls the life and times of how he came to be. It’s a brutal, dark fantasy adventure, filled with twists and turns, gore and backstabbings that I thoroughly enjoyed. If you’re a fan of vampires or dark fantasy, I think you’ll love Empire of the Vampire as much as I did!

Rating: 5 out of 5

Trigger warnings: violence, blood smut, gore, cutting, animal deaths

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Jeann is an Aussie YA blogger and mum who loves to read and recommend books! You can usually find me fangirling about books on my various social media channels including Tiktok@happyindulgence, Instagram and Youtube.

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