The story is a fast paced, action packed adventure teeming with classically terrifying vampires, political strifes within and between empires, personal adventure and a touch of romance--all set in a fascinating and epic steampunk alternate history. Princess Adele and the Greyfriar are compelling characters, both of whom grabbed my attention immediately upon introduction and for whom my affection grew with every turn of the page. The story is certainly focused on the events that serve as political catalysts for war between the empires, but it would be remiss to say the story is not also a personal one. The relationships Adele forges during her journey home are equally tender as they are strong and may possibly be what saves both empires from future destruction. The Greyfriar is thoroughly entertaining. I loved this story and am terribly anxious to read the next book in the trilogy, The Rift Walker, already available now.
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Steampunk Challenge Update:
The Greyfriar is the only full length steampunk novel that I've read during Steampunk Challenge hosted by Rikki on her blog The Bookkeeper.
Challenge: Read steampunk books from October 2010 through October 2011.
I did also read a steampunk romance novella that was absolutely fantastic. That story is "Here There Be Monsters" by Meljean Brook in the Burning Up anthology, which includes additional [non-steampunk] stories by Nalini Singh, Angela Knight and Virginia Kantra.
"Here There Be Monsters" is a prequel story to Meljean Brook's Iron Seas series. It is, in my opinion, extremely challenging for authors to write really stellar short stories, particularly in the romance genre, but Meljean has once again met that challenge in spades. The world building is impeccable and fascinating, the plot clever, the characters diverse and the romance is both believable and memorable. A romance for which the characters had to really fight, too! Now I'm looking forward more than ever to reading the first full length novel in this series, The Iron Duke. A task I must attend to ASAP as Heart of Steel--book two in the Iron Seas series, comes out in just a few days!