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Empire of the Vampire #1

Empire of the Vampire

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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.

From author Jay Kristoff comes Empire of the Vampire, the first illustrated volume of an astonishing new dark fantasy saga.

739 pages, Hardcover

First published September 7, 2021

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About the author

Jay Kristoff

43 books24.5k followers
Jay Kristoff is a #1 international, New York Times and USA Today bestselling author of fantasy and science fiction. He is the winner of eight Aurealis Awards, an ABIA, has over two million books in print and is published in over thirty five countries, most of which he has never visited. He is as surprised about all of this as you are. He is 6’7 and has approximately 12,000 days to live.

He does not believe in happy endings.

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5 stars
21,743 (59%)
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Displaying 1 - 30 of 7,808 reviews
Profile Image for EmmaSkies.
162 reviews3,297 followers
October 22, 2022
1.25 stars and the .25 is given incredibly reluctantly. This is an absolute dumpster fire of a book and I’m going to do my best to articulate why in a concise and organized way...but honestly the book made me so angry that I might go off the rails.

First of all I’m gonna separate the problems I have with this book into four sections:
The misogyny
The obsession with underage children
The “humor”
And lastly, the actual writing style/story

1. The misogyny
So yes, we are starting off with the misogyny. It is built into every single page of this 700+ page tome, so much so that I wouldn't even be able to give you a complete picture without writing a goddamn dissertation on it. Jay Kristoff seems to be going out of his way to remind me why I prefer fantasy written by women, because my god this book is an exhausting experience to read if you happen to be feminine. The easiest way to show how blatant it might be to show how I decided to tab this book…

Yellow tabs: Anything explicitly and blatantly derogatory to female characters. This includes calling women b*tch, wh*re, c*nt, etc. as well as anything said for the express purpose of mocking or shaming a woman for simply being a woman.
Orange tabs: Slightly more subjective, these mark anything in the book that made me roll my eyes and think “yeah, this was definitely written by a man.” These include descriptions of women that are very clearly from and for the male gaze, questionable interactions with female anatomy, cringe dialogue or actions from female characters meant to appeal to the male gaze...you get the deal.

On specifics, here are a collection of the ways in which this book managed to be the single most misogynist piece of writing I’ve ever had the misfortune to experience:
- Fridging. Jay Kristoff seems to looooove a good fridging. This is the phenomenon of a female character dying purely for the purpose of furthering a male character’s storyline. Just about every single significant woman in the main character’s life dies to push him on his little story.

- Even outside of his own personal attachments, almost every single named woman in this book dies, often horribly. And the violence against women is quite deliberately written very differently to violence against men. Women are often described in detail as they’re killed. What they look like (often young and hot, he’s very consistent in this), what they’re wearing (oftentimes very little or clothing is damaged and removed during a fight), how they’re being brutalized, what or how they’re screaming, what the scene looks like as they die...Juxtaposed with the violence against men. I won’t say there isn’t any, because it’s a very violent book (to be expected, it’s horror). But in contrast to the way women are killed, men’s deaths are often quick and only lightly explained. There are obviously exceptions to every rule, but on the whole women are brutalized more frequently and in greater detail through the entire book. Violence is to be expected in horror, but when an author significantly tips the scales to favor violence against women (and children, but that’s a whole other thing), it’s just completely exhausting to read.

- It should surprise absolutely no one at this point that rape is also a favorite plotline. I count at the very least 4 named female characters who were raped in this book. Again, just more violence against women.

- The language used to speak to and about women. Obviously, with the amount of yellow tabs you can see, he constantly refers to female characters and women in general with derogatory language. In one case, we find out a character we had previously thought was male is actually female, and the very first thing he does is call her a b*tch. They are often talked down to and about, and it is explicitly stated that women in the exact same circumstances as the male main character have two options - nun or prostitute - while men with their circumstances are revered and in many ways respected soldiers.

- The main female character has MASSIVE “pick me” energy. She is the very personification of the “Cool Girl” monologue from Gone Girl. She’s ~ not like other girls~ because she swears like a dragon on its period (this is actually how her language is described), consistently calls other women wh*res and c*nts, blah blah blah. She is the worst kind of female character and it’s very clearly done to, once again, appeal to the male gaze. I have never read a girl more obviously written by a man in my entire life.

- The inclusion and heavy focus on a vampire who specifically targets underage virgin girls and uses them like animals. Seriously, he has them pull his carriage like horses. And inevitably the main character massacres every single one of those teenage girls in explicit detail while the man controlling them walks away.

There is so much more but I’ve already spent too long on this section. I also get the feeling Jay Kristoff patted himself on the back for the three lines of dialogue in 700 pages that acknowledge the misogyny of the world. However, acknowledging it doesn’t preclude the fact that he spends the other 697 pages perpetuating and building it. Jay Kristoff is the Joss Whedon of fantasy writers, I said what I said.

2. The obsession with underage children

This is one of the most unsettling aspects of the book. There is absolutely NO REASON for there to be as many underage or underage-looking characters.

They exist in two categories: Underage humans and vampires Kristoff goes out of his way to specify are actually old, but look prepubescent. The first time, it was weird. The second time, it was uncomfortable. The third and fourth and fifth and every time after it made me feel gross just reading the book. I really just want to know why this man thought it was necessary to include a ten year old boy being turned into a vampire and subsequently feeding on his mother for weeks by going into her room at night to bite at her breasts and inner thighs. Seriously, what the fuck.

There’s also the matter of the underage sex. Why am I reading an adult book and reading about teenagers having sex in explicit detail? There are two time periods this book swaps back and forth between, one where the main character is 15/16 and one where he’s 32. Guess which one all the sexual encounters take place in? Did you guess the one with the 32 year old, like a normal person? Well, you would be wrong. Every single sexual encounter the MC has occurs in the underage timeline. And somehow even worse, there are illustrations in this book...there’s an illustration of a sex scene...THEY’RE SIXTEEN.
I’m not even going to get into the relationship he paints between a character we’re told is 14 and a woman we believe to be a grown ass adult. Is it better that we eventually find out their ages are actually 16 and 19? (still gross, btw) No, it does not matter, because he wrote it very specifically to make you think you were reading about a 14 year old touching a grown woman.

This book is disgusting and the obsession with underage people is just disturbing.

3. The “humor”

On a more subjective note, the humor in this book is cringe as fuck. I grew up in Xbox Live lobbies and it sounds like every 13 year old asshole from back then. There are 4 main pillars of comedy in EOTV:
- Dick jokes
- Prostitute jokes
- Yo Mama jokes
- and modern anachronisms thrown into a medieval setting

That’s really it. The most notable of these, in my opinion, is the clear obsession with prostitutes. It’s...weird. Like a couple, sure, I get it, brothels exist. But he makes prostitutes the butt of jokes over and over again, makes weird analogies about prostitutes vaginas (because they’re obviously always cis women), and just generally talks about them way more than normal. Another character actually points this out at one point, but it doesn’t make it any less annoying that he continues to do it anyway. Gabriel is the worst fucking main character I think I’ve ever read.

4. The writing style/story

Finally, the overall style and story are just also not for me. For one thing, I personally can’t stand the “main character telling the reader the story” POV. I get that it’s trying to emulate Interview with the Vampire, but I really do not enjoy it. It doesn’t help that the person Gabriel is telling the story to interrupts ALL THE TIME to force him to give exposition. Obnoxious.
The story is also told in two different time periods, as mentioned above. One when he’s 15/16 and one when he’s 32. I found the way he chose to break them up very jarring. The story would move pretty slow, it would finally pick up, something would finally happen...and it would immediately change timelines. I could guess when the timeline was about to change just by my interest level finally peaking. Unfortunately, he then spends so much time in the other timeline that by the time he gets back I’d forgotten why I cared that it switched in the first place.
The language is very clearly trying to be ~ edgy ~ and it's just cringeworthy. I simultaneously cannot believe this was written by a man who is almost 50, and can't imagine this being written by anyone but a middle-aged man with the sense of humor of a teenager. Do you have any idea how much you have to overuse the word "fuck" for it to annoy ME, of all people?

And finally there is just nothing original in this story. It’s pretty derivative, which I understand is a little unavoidable when writing vampires (everything has been done before), but overall the entire plot is incredibly predictable especially when you catch on to the fact that every single woman is going to die. Kinda takes the wind out of any surprises he thought he was delivering. There's a big reveal toward the end of the book that has absolutely not gravitas because it was really really obvious over 500 pages before.
The whole book is also heavily steeped in religion which is just not interesting to me. At all.

This book also just straight up takes the ending of The Last of Us and rewrites it for medieval vampires. Actually, kinda a lot of the overall plot of The Last of Us... but much much worse.

The .25 stars I've awarded it above 1 is purely for the fact that I saw only one typo. On a technical writing level, it's competently written. Congratulations, the man can structure a paragraph.
Even so, the book is wordy for the sake of being wordy. There is absolutely no reason this book needs to be 700 pages. Could have told the same story in 400 pages and cut out a lot of unnecessary shit, but I digress.

So there it is! I’ve written this review, I’ve ranted extensively in a review on my instagram stories, and I can put this horrible horrible experience of a book behind me! I literally would not have survived this book if I wasn’t buddy reading it with two other women. I cannot believe we dragged ourselves over the finish line of this one. Jay Kristoff could never write a woman as strong as we are for fighting through this absolute nightmare of a book.
Profile Image for Jay Kristoff.
Author 43 books24.5k followers
October 28, 2020
EMPIRE OF THE VAMPIRE is not a book for children.


It's basically what would happen if INTERVIEW WITH THE VAMPIRE


hooked up with NAME OF THE WIND


in an S&M club while all eight seasons of GAME OF THRONES streamed in the background (consecutively not simultaneously).


It is not a book for children.


It concerns an ex-monster-slayer named Gabriel de León, who was once quite-the-awesome but has been having a tough time of late and has become a bit of an edgelord


but he mostly gets away with his drunken "I am the night" routine, because who doesn't like a tall, dark, half-vampire dude with magic tattoos and a tragic past and beautiful hair, honestly, that shit is money in the bank where's my Emmy.


Before you ask, the vampires in it do not sparkle.


Not that I have anything against vampires that sparkle, anyone working in publishing in 2020 owes Stephenie Meyer an enormous debt of gratitude—I don't care if they were your jam, the TWILIGHT books brought an entire generation of folks back to reading and many of them stayed, vampires aren't real and if an author decides they sparkle in sunlight or jizz rainbows when someone plays Halsey on the radio, who gives a damn, just say "as you like it, madame" and roll on with your day.


But yeah, my vampires don't so much sparkle as murder you and your whole motherfucking family, and the only reason they pursue 16 year old girls (or indeed anyone else) in this book is because vampires see them as food.


(Team Damon 4 life btw)


The book is quite long.


It's rather violent.


It's somewhat gay. Like, not Orange is the New Black gay, but you're talking to the man who wrote Mia fucking Corvere, I'm building up to it, give me some goddamn credit.


It is quite smutty and bloody. "Bloodsmutty" if you will. Honestly, there's a blood-drinking blowjob scene in there, so if that's not your thing, just back slowly out of the room while avoiding eye contact, I won't be offended (Hi, Mum).


It is, as I may have previously mentioned, not a book for children.


It will be illustrated! Though I can't talk much more about that until next year.


But, it's pretty epic.


Like "best book I've ever written" epic.


I mean fuuuuuuuckingepic.


But it's not a book for children. So, if the bookstore puts it in the wrong section alongside ILLUMINAE and you find your baby reading it whilst bleeding from the eyes, before you send me an angry mail, pls consider that I warned you.

Hope you love it.

Profile Image for Robin Hobb.
Author 294 books98.9k followers
February 14, 2021
Let's begin with the usual caveats: I received an Advanced Reading Copy of this book, for free, from the publisher. I think Jay Kristoff is a nice person. And I think that neither of those two things will affect my honest review of this book.

First impressions: 879 pages! And it's only the first part of the story. So for people who like to move into a book and live there for several years, this is for you. It's a rich, well-realized world of darkness and danger. You won't be bored there.

The black and white illustrations in the ARC I received are very dramatic and well suited to the tale. I did not receive a page with credits, so I cannot name the artist, but wish I could. The artist deserves praise.

Third, and this should probably have been a caveat. I'm not big on vampire stories. But this was from Jay Kristoff, so I gave it a try. It's still not my favorite sub-genre, but I would say Empire of the Vampire is much more than a vampire story. And I am grateful that, for all of their fine manners and sartorial elegance, these vampires are still nasty, evil, horrific villains. As vampires should be.

Now, you all probably know that I hate spoilers, so I'm going to dance around a few here. If you like coming of age tales, and even 'sent off to a special place to learn stuff' stories, there is a big chunk of this book that you will really enjoy. If you like lovingly detailed fight scenes, you will get a blood spattered super serving of those. Mysterious library? Some sex? Grumpy mentor, forbidden assignations, a protagonist at the bottom of the pecking order? Check to all of them!

Okay, before anyone says, "Oh, those sound like clichés," I would remind you that you can check off a lot of those things in MY books as well. I prefer to think of those things as 'beloved, savory ingredients' in the fantasy feasts we all crave. So what else could be added to make this a full feast? Multi racial, multi gender characters. How about an infusing of mysteries for the reader to speculate about? Some romance, some good old fashioned vendettas. Ooooh, what else can go into the Grimdark feast? Some dumplings of philosophy? At first glance, it may appear to be garnished with sour cynicism, but in the very bottom of the tale, when you stir it, you will find a rich gravy of faith and belief in humanity and the virtues of friendship.

So this is my review, more like a recipe for a very enjoyable tale than a critique of plot or characterization. Because I have mentioned so many things that may be seen as 'standard' in fantasy novel, let me assure you that there are no standard characters nor a standard plot between these covers. It's an engrossing read in a rich world.
Profile Image for NickReads.
461 reviews1,196 followers
Want to read
February 22, 2020
wow I thought I was over vampires but suddenly I am not
Profile Image for jessica.
2,555 reviews35.5k followers
October 6, 2021
the empire of the vampire is upon us.

and i was not prepared for how much i would love this, obsess over this, devour this.

the story is dark and gritty and vulgar and takes vampires, as well as the tale of the holy grail, in a completely unique and bloody direction. JK wasnt lying when he said this book is for adults only - it gives ‘nevernight’ a run for its money in terms of mature content. but i love how brutally real this feels. if vampires were to take over the world, this is exactly how i imagine it would be. the world-building is outstanding and really creates such an immersive setting. the amazing illustrations really add to that, as well!

but honestly, the waves of nostalgia i constantly felt throughout is what surprised me the most. the narrative format reminds me so dang much of ‘the name of the wind.’ from the prologue/epilogue combination, to how a man of legend recounts his tale of how he has fallen so far, and just the overall vibe reminded me how much my heart loves these kind of stories.

its only the first book, but i truly believe that this is going to my favourite series by JK.


i got about 25% in before i realised my ARC was only an extended sampler and, because of that and personal reading preferences, i am going to hold off until i have a complete copy. but what i did read. oh my goodness. release day cant come soon enough.

to readers who thought they were over vampire stories, think again.

thank you, st. martins press, for 200+ pages that blew me away.

5 stars
Profile Image for Matt's Fantasy Book Reviews.
264 reviews3,939 followers
July 28, 2022
Check out my YouTube channel where I show my instant reactions upon finishing reading fantasy books.

Hands down, the best vampire book ever written!

I am in shock over how good this book. This book won my monthly "pick a book for me to read" contest, and I was upset that it won because I've never read a vampire book that I would classify as good - and I've tried many of them. But within one hour of reading, I knew this book was going to be fantastic.

The writing is absolutely top notch - it's dark, visceral, and keeps you at the edge of your seat continually. Jay Kristoff, an author that I have never read any books from before this, is clearly very gifted in terms of writing quality and ability to tell an amazing story. The characters are written absolutely marvelously, and the world will suck you up with vivid descriptions that will leave you ravenous for the next book.

Story: 5/5

The story here is incredible, epic, and addicting to read. The pacing felt great, and even though the book is an absolute behemoth, it actually kept the book action-packed instead of the traditional method of slowly building this story.

This book has two features that I normally don't like in books, but somehow work wonderfully here.

The first is that it uses a framing narrative where the story is being told by the main character to someone else (think: Name of the Wind). While this style ruins some of the suspense because you already know the fate of some characters, it was a joy to read the interactions between the main character and the person he is telling the story to - with routine jumping in/out throughout the book.

The second is that it tells two different stories at the same time from different time periods (think: Prince of Thorns). There is routine jumping from the story of the main characters youth, to the main characters glory years later on - and while this can sometimes get a bit confusing and disjointed, that doesn't happen here. The author does such a good job telling this story that it all fits perfectly and feels like it benefits the overall story.

World Building: 5/5

On the surface the world here seems rather basic - as you have vampires leading one faction, and living people leading another, and they are at continual war with each other. But the world feels so rich, and real - that you can't help but get completely sucked into it and can mentally visualize everything happening with rich detail. It's the sort of world that you can't stop thinking about, and will leave you desperately hoping we get more of these books as quickly as possible.

Fantasy Elements: 3/5

The only negative marks I will say about this book is really more of a personal taste thing, but I'm just not a huge fan of vampires as fantasy creatures. This is luckily saved from hurting the overall book for me because of how well everything is written (the vampires included), but I just don't find myself enthusiastic about the things that make vampires unique. Nothing feels fresh here, as they have all the same powers and tendencies that you would traditionally associate with them.

Characters: 5/5

The characters here are wonderfully written - with you loving some and hating some, and all of them being interesting in their own way. The main protagonist is incredible, and even after one book (granted, it's a huge book) the characters growth you get to see here is wonderful. It evokes many of the same feelings you get reading the characters in Realm of the Elderlings, which is extremely high praise as I think Robin Hobb is the undisputed champion for character writing in fantasy novels.

It's hard to pull off, but I absolutely love when a book successfully writes characters where you can see all the stages of their life. And this book nails it.

Writing Style: 5/5

While I like so much about this book, the writing style is what really sets this book apart from other books. It's absolutely wonderfully done, and stands among the greatest writing in any fantasy book I have ever read. This is not a book for children, and the extreme use of profanity - while normally might feel excessive, is so convincingly well written that it will never get stale. It really wouldn't matter what the author was talking about, when you can write this good it just sucks in the reader and doesn't let go.

Enjoyment: 5/5

If you couldn't tell by now, I had an absolute blast reading this book from start to finish - and I cannot wait for the next book to come out so I can devour it instantly.

Profile Image for Nilufer Ozmekik.
2,302 reviews43.9k followers
October 20, 2022
Two things I can say about this book:
1)This is definitely not for children as Jay Kristoff mentioned on Goodreads review.
2)This is more than vampire story: it’s about losing your belief, your life purpose, your inner source of light, your compass!
So far I can honestly say this is the best thing the author wrote. And I want to read the rest of it ! The world building, the clear, dark, wild, haunted depictions, emotional depth of characters are pure perfection!

I was up all night and my head feels like still swimming inside an aquarium but it’s totally worth the entire mental exhaustion!

Special thanks to NetGalley and St. Martin’s Press for sharing this arc in exchange my honest thoughts.
Profile Image for John Gwynne.
Author 38 books11.1k followers
July 19, 2021
Oh my word, what a book Empire of the Vampire is. Gripping, terrifying and visceral, this is that rare beast of a tale that rips your heart from your chest, stamps on it and leaves you wanting more. Characters you love and hate, a world that feels hauntingly real, and an adventure that grabs you and does not let go, this book is destined for the Fantasy Hall of Fame. I loved it.

Full 5/5 stars from me.
Profile Image for Kyle.
377 reviews556 followers
October 7, 2021
Many thanks to St. Martin’s Press and NetGalley for access to this eARC sampler, in exchange for an honest review.

UPDATE 9/6/21: I’ve stewed in my thoughts for a while now, and I’ve decided to lower my rating completely.

Note: this is a review of the 400-page sampler I was provided, NOT the full book (which is around 800 pages).

This book is: The Witcher meets Interview with the Vampire meets Game of Thrones meets the movie Underworld

It’s also:
•Violent as fuck
•Bloody as fuck
•Profane as fuck
•And some would say (myself not being one of them) Sexy as fuck

This is NOT:
•A book for kids
•A read to be taken lightly
•The best vampire story I’ve ever seen…

I’m not one to shy away from crass language—I, personally, can have an admittedly foul mouth—but here in Empire of the Vampire the vulgarity is severe overkill. I can understand the necessity for worldbuilding and characterization, but it’s SO fucking frequent to the point of absurdity. It took me out of the story often. Every sentence or spoken dialogue had some form of “fuck” “shit” and/or other four-letter words. The insults were always bullysome playground-styled nonsense. It was unfortunate that for a fantasy novel, the author chose to resort to high school-level profanity, which in turn made the adult content seem less intelligent, and more immature. Show me a character is hardened and butch some other way. Seriously. All the macho male posturing was FUCKING ANNOYING and BULLSHIT!

Kristoff promised us gay shit, and while I won’t go into specifics, it was just more f/f fetishization. When a (and I am making an assumption here!!!) “straight” male author frequently writes queer women and queer f/f sex scenes (i.e. The Nevernight Chronicles), I find it disgustingly male gaze-y. I shouldn’t even say “women,” because every gay female he writes is a teenager!!!!!!!! What we have here in Empire of the Vampire is gratuitous hetero male fantasy posturing in the guise of fantasy literature. NEARLY ALL** of the male characters are so offensively… STRAIGHT! The effeminate vampire is painted in a borderline homophobic way, all the jokes in the book are straight boy macho bullshit, and the author also makes it a point to mention in his world building how “sodomy is a sin.” There are slurs galore within this book, but Kristoff also uses a few gay jabs, as well. I thought that once—JUST ONE FUCKING TIME—Jay Kristoff would give us a queer male MC.

Rant aside, going back to the writing… I mean, when it’s good, it’s GOOD, but when it’s not, it’s cringe. “Ha Ha, you jerkface! I slept with your mother, and your sister, and your grandma” or “That’s not what your wife said last night, you meanie.” It was those kinds of jokes and remarks—nearly every other page—and with much more colorful language. The kind teenagers find funny, or people with a low maturity level. I was fine with it the first few times, but it got old real fast the more it went on and on and on and on. It wasn’t clever or funny, it was childish and annoying. Within the span of a few pages, there were two “jokes” about menstruating women, which is just… it’s just fucking tacky: “a she-devil on the rag” and “a dragon on her period.” Blah blah blah. Like, who finds that funny? (HAHA A PERIOD JOKE! GOOD ONE!) You can’t see it, but I’m rolling my eyes right now. People are finding this banter funny, but I find it underhanded misogyny. Also, a quip about a bishop and an altar boy that I found in terribly bad taste. However, there were many passages that engaged me thoroughly. Jay Kristoff has a deft hand at worldbuilding that doesn’t feel tacked on or info-dumping. It’s masterfully layered; not all of it spoon/fed to us. The kind of worldbuilding you need to pay attention to. Many references are made to past events and characters that we know absolutely nothing about, but it’s never frustrating not knowing the context, because the accompanying dialogue is usually enough to convey meaning and emotion. There’s a quote that I had to jot down immediately after reading it, because it was so good: “…a ball of nerves and restless energy, a long-tailed cat in a room full of rocking chairs.” If that doesn’t perfectly capture my constant state of being, nothing else will.

Who was my favorite character in this vampiric slog? Ash. Hands down. That’s maybe saying something about how I perceived these characters on whole. I will say that they started growing on me, but not until close to the end of this sampler (about 350 pages in!). I know many are written to be unlikable and/or antiheroes, but that wasn’t the problem for me. You see, I LOVE antiheroes and always dig an unlikable character. It’s just the way Kristoff writes a few of them… almost like caricatures designed for specific fandoms. Dior, for example. And certainly Saoirse/Phoebe. Also, of course: Bellamy. Side note: There were far too many characters with facial scarring of some sort. Like, several. I dunno. I found it odd.

So, after all that, was there anything (else) I did like? Yes, yes there was:
•The level of unflinching violence (gore galore!)
•The uncompromising, darker than black atmosphere
•A certain measure of surprise and intrigue
•A slightly different taken on vampire lore
•Thorough and engaging worldbuilding

I also liked the structure of this story. The interview style and the non-chronological storytelling was fun and kept me on my toes. Although, whenever Gabriel de Leon went to jump around in his telling, his back-and-forth with Jean-François was always the same argument. JF: “Blah blah you can’t do that.” GdL: “Fuck you, I do what I want.” It was like that every time.

NOTE: Sexualizing minors of any gender makes me uncomfortable. Some have pointed out to me that this age difference isn’t wholly problematic, but I disagree. That’s just my opinion.

Bottom line: (EDIT #1) Yeah, I’ve changed my mind. Fuck this.
If my copy was a physical one, I’d have thrown it across the room, but it was on my Kindle and I need that.


These thoughts are my own. Some people will have read everything Jay Kristoff has written, and will disagree with me completely. I have my gripes with him… and his writing… but I know many who love the dude, and will most certainly love this book. I’ve simply had enough.**
Profile Image for Melissa ♥ Dog/Wolf Lover ♥ Martin.
3,535 reviews9,938 followers
February 27, 2022
UPDATE: $3.99 on Kindle US today 2/27/22

Omg! Artstation - Sara Mirza - captured Gabriel’s hotness 😏

I’ve been back and forth with this book. My feelings may change as I’m trying to sort myself out. I will say the narrator did an amazing job on the audio. The book is really sad and of course dark. I'm not sure about keeping books like this anymore as life is doom and gloom enough. I enjoyed most of the book accept a few parts. I’m interested to see where this trilogy will go. I want to know if it’s going to be a total disappointment like some others that I kicked to the curb! I can’t even imagine what will be in two more books 😬 ………..

The art in the book is awesome! I wish all books had art throughout!

Mel 🖤🐶🐺🐾
Profile Image for Books with Brittany.
645 reviews3,269 followers
September 20, 2021
Fuck my face. Bloody brilliant.
Hands down Jay’s best work and a fav of the year.
You gonna do us dirty like that, Jay? 😒
Profile Image for Petrik.
687 reviews45.9k followers
October 30, 2022
Empire of the Vampire is an infuriating novel. And yet, at the same time, it is also a brilliant and bloody epic post-apocalyptic fantasy and vampire story.

“I never thought I'd find such peace in simple reading. The words were a kind of magic, taking me by the hand and sweeping me into lands unseen, times unremembered, thoughts unimagined. Through all my years in San Michon, all the blood and sweat and darkling roads I walked, I learned one of my greatest lessons sitting in that Library with those girls in the still of the night.
A life without books is a life not lived.”

The Nevernight Chronicles was a surprising trilogy for me. I went into it on a whim, never expecting I would like it, but I loved it. Since its announcement, especially after hearing it will be an illustrated novel, I was undoubtedly excited to get to reading Empire of the Vampire. Yes, it has been a year since this book was first released, and after all the hype, praises, and many special editions (oh so many), it's only now I can read it. The reading mood is a difficult maze to navigate, okay? More importantly, did Empire of the Vampire live up to expectations? No, and yes. My reading experience of this book felt like I experienced hell and heaven at once. Seriously, so few books I've read made me hate and love them as much as I did for Empire of the Vampire. By the way, I am also not a fan of the book or series title. Empire of the Vampire is an awkward name for a book or series; I would've preferred Vampire's Empire or The Silversaint Chronicles. But hey, that's just me. I am not the writer of this tale. I am, however, the writer of this review, and I shall begin it now.

“I've stood in the houses of the holy, priest. I've read his scripture cover to cover, I've sung praises to his name, and I tell you now and tell you true: One hand holding a sword is worth ten thousand clasped in prayer.”

First, the premise. Gabriel is a silversaint, a member of a holy brotherhood dedicated to defending the realm and church from the evil creatures of the night. The narrative is told through three timeframes, and in the present day, it seems that the Silver Order has failed. It has been twenty-seven long years since the last sunrise. For nearly three decades, vampires have waged war against humanity. They built their eternal empire as they tear down humanities. Now, only a few tiny sparks of light endure in a sea of darkness. Only Gabriel remains. Imprisoned by the monsters he vowed to destroy, the last silversaint is forced to tell his story. A story of legendary battles and forbidden love, faith and brotherhood, the Wars of the Blood and the Forever King, and the quest for humanity’s last remaining hope: the Holy Grail. In Empire of the Vampire, Kristoff utilized a framing narrative to tell the story of Gabriel de León. And Kristoff implemented three timeframes to do this.

Picture: The Last Silversaint by Bon Orthwick (Monolime)

First, we have the present day, where Gabriel is forced to tell his story to his captor: Jean-François. And this is not a straightforward chronological retelling of his past like the ones shown in, for example, The Name of the Wind by Patrick Rothfuss. Or Blood Song by Anthony Ryan, if you want another example. The framing narrative utilized in Empire of the Vampire is more akin to The Ruin of Kings by Jenn Lyons. With the exception that Empire of the Vampire is much more accessible than The Ruin of Kings, of course. Gabriel uses two timelines to fill in the details of his legends and feats, one is his coming-of-age story starting from when he was 15 years of age, and the other is the beginning of the quest for the Holy Grail that begins when he was 32 years old, just 3 years before the present day.

“There’s no misery so deep as one you face by yourself. No nights darker than ones you spend alone. But you can learn to live with any weight. Your scars grow thick enough, they become armour.”

This is daring and risky of Kristoff, but no, the style of the framing narrative is not the main issue I had with this book. I am a fan of framing narratives; seeing how the details of the legends explored and achieved often felt satisfying to me. And I believe this storytelling style should be featured more prominently in the fantasy genre. I mentioned at the beginning of this review that I experienced both hell and heaven reading this book. So I'm going to start with the bad experience first. There is no easy way of saying this: I hate-read the majority of the first half of Empire of the Vampire.

Picture: Empire of the Vampire by Jason Chan

It was incredibly infuriating. Every character in the first half of the novel was insanely unlikable. And none of them were interesting enough for me to feel invested in their stories. I've read many grimdark fantasy novels featuring characters doing questionable actions I disagreed with. But it is crucial to have something about them (determination, unflinching bravery) that drove me to like a part of them enough to continue reading or at least feel invested in their story. And personally, there was nothing of those in the first half of Empire of the Vampire. Whether it's Gabriel when he was 15 or 32 years old, he constantly behaved like a brat, bastard, or an asshole with no redeeming factor. And to be fair, Gabriel acknowledged this multiple times throughout his storytelling. But that's also where my next issue lies.

“See, I never understood that. Why pride is looked on as an evil. You work hard at something you're not born good at? Damn right you should be fucking proud.”

From The Nevernight Chronicles, I can say that I (surprisingly) liked reading Kristoff's purple prose; he has a beautiful writing style filled with iconic phrases that make every emotional, violent, and intense scene so palpable. But the way the first half is written made the book feel like it's a full-throttle edgy YA fantasy novel written by a teenager trying way too hard to be accepted as an adult. I won't even be surprised if this book is shelved as a YA fantasy novel based on its first half. The way Gabriel constantly says he's a bastard or asshole, and then he wanted his chronicler to acknowledge this multiple times (which he did and Gabe was so proud of them) made me cringe and eye-rolled so hard. It's similar to Joffrey from A Song of Ice and Fire demanding people to call him king, but in the case of Joffrey, it worked accordingly with the story and his character. Additionally, the cursings. If you're reading my review for the first time here, check out the books I've read first before calling me a prude here. Most of the epic fantasy books I've read are serious or dark in tone, brutal, and violent. And yes, they feature words and themes kids should not be reading without guidance. However, the issue I have with the first half of Empire of the Vampire was how these curses were implemented. It felt like Kristoff, who constantly say he cursed a lot in real life, just finally found out he can use the word fuck, fucking, and whoreson. And then, he decided to use three words for every situation and sentence, no matter how random and awkward they're placed. If you want to make your character curse frequently, make them count. Prove a point with them. One out of many examples, take a read at The Gentleman Bastards by Scott Lynch. Various forms of profanity were unleashed, and cursings felt like a form of art being wielded brilliantly to augment emotions, comedy, and narrative.

“When there’s little you can do, do what little you can.”

All these issues made me struggle a LOT reading the first half of Empire of the Vampire. If it weren't because the beautiful interior artwork exist, and my buddy-read friends who convinced me to persevere, I would've given up. Fortunately, I did not give up. Lady Fortuna shines on me. What happened? Two words: second half.

“How many hearts have been made complete by words so small as I do? How many more have been shattered with a breath as tiny as It’s over? Little sounds that reshape or unmake your entire world, like great spells of old to redraw the very lines by which you see yourself and all else about you. Two little words.”

Empire of the Vampire, divided into six parts, suddenly transformed into something irresistibly awesome starting from part four. You've read my rants on the book, and if I were to give a rating based only on the first half of the novel, it would barely be a 2 stars rating. The second half, however, was undoubtedly Jay Kristoff at his best, a magnificent 5 stars rating through-through. All the problems I had with the first half of the book vanished. The sorely needed excellent characterizations and development were laid down meticulously. Curses were used as a signifier at the right time. Plus, I ended up loving reading Gabriel's brotherhood with Aaron and Baptiste, too, and trust me, from the first half of the book, this was a mission impossible. I think jumping back and forth between flashbacks caused this issue for me. It took me almost 400 pages long of Empire of the Vampire to feel like I've gotten to know and like Gabriel more as the main character. Without the needed background, his (even more) infuriating adult state felt much more intolerable. As I became more and more invested in the characters, the character's flaws turned into something positive for the overall quality of the narrative. The long-awaited crimson action sequences also appeared brutally. The intriguing and intricate world-building felt multiply immersive. In other words, after the great difficulties I had with the first half, Empire of the Vampire increasingly became a compelling dark fantasy I couldn't put down with each page I read in the second half.

“But music, de León…” The vampire leaned forward, animated for perhaps the first time since their conversation began. “Music is a truth beyond telling. A bridge between strangest souls. Two men who speak not a word of each other’s tongues may yet feel their hearts soar likewise at the same refrain. Gift a man the most important of lessons, he may forget it amorrow. Gift him a beautiful song, and he shall hum it ’til the day the crows make a castle of his bones.”

The last two Parts of Empire of the Vampire were simply outstanding. Now imbued with the empathizing characterizations and vivid world, all the themes, revelations, betrayals, brutality, violence, vendettas, and heartbreak transformed Empire of the Vampire into a pulse-pounding and breathtaking story. Witnessing the character's brotherhood, love, and desperate struggles in the dark and merciless world, one step at a time, was utterly rewarding. Also, the tension of the battles felt palpable because the villains of Empire of the Vampire (The Beast of Vellene and The Raven Child) were ruthless, terrifying, and powerful. Even knowing that Gabriel survived these ordeals (obviously, he is telling his story, after all) doesn't diminish the intensity of the conflicts. I absolutely loved the second half of this book; there is no if or question about that.

“It’s only in faerie tales that everything works out for the best with a magik spell or a prince’s kiss. It’s only in storybooks some little bastard picks up a sword and wields it like he was born to it. The rest of us? We have to work our arses off. And we might not ever taste triumph, but at least we dared to fail. We stand apart from those cowards whispering on the sidelines about how the strong did stumble, while never daring to set foot in the ring themselves. Victors are just folk who were never satisfied being vanquished. The only thing worse than finishing last is not beginning at all. And fuck finishing last.”

Picture: Empire of the Vampire by Kerby Rosanes

Lastly, before I end this review, allow me to give my praises to the artists behind Empire of the Vampire because they are responsible for improving the novel to a higher level. As far as the "standard" edition goes, aesthetically, Empire of the Vampire by Jay Kristoff is most likely the most beautiful standard edition I've ever laid my eyes upon. And this goes for both editions. The US edition has cover art illustrated by Jason Chan, one of my favorite artists who also did the US cover art of The Nevernight Chronicles. The UK cover art is illustrated by Kerby Rosanes, who is, once again, one of my favorite artists who also did the UK cover art of The Nevernight Chronicles. The US edition has one heck of typography done by Meg Morley and a cover design by Young Lim. The UK cover art has a cover design by the awesome Micaela Alcaino. Then there's also the beautiful map of the Empire of Elidaen by Virginia Allyn.

Picture: The Empire of Elidaen Map by Virginia Allyn

But the most distinct enhancer is the enormous amount of gorgeous interior artwork here. Yes, for those of you who don't know, every edition of Empire of the Vampire has more than 30 interior artworks illustrated by Bon Orthwick (Monolime). In a way, the standard edition of Empire of the Vampire alone already feels like a special edition for many other fantasy books right now. Plus, there are now almost 30 special editions for Empire of the Vampire. Does it deserve that many special editions? No. I don't think so. Honestly, so few fantasy book in this world deserves that many special editions. This is not Jay Kristoff's fault. And yes, I know money matters most to publishers. But I can't help but feel that this is straight-up overkill. Empire of the Vampire has been out for only a year, with no sequel in sight yet, and it's insane that it already has almost 30 special editions. It's an injustice to many fantasy authors who sometimes struggle to even get a hardcover of their books published by traditional publishers. Anyway, this is long enough, and it's a topic for another day. My point: the artists did an excellent job on this book.

Picture: Gabriel de Leon by Bon Orthwick (Monolime)

“The book was near falling to pieces, but the lettering was still visible, faint and faded, oui, but still there. This, too, was a strange immortality. Poems, stories, ideas, frozen forever in time. The simple wonder of books.”

It is unfortunate. Despite how much I loved reading the last 300 pages of Empire of the Vampire, I cannot give this book a full 5 stars rating due to the issues I had with the first half of the novel. On the plus side, I am confident a re-read of this book will offer a better reading experience now that I've known the character, their personalities, and their motivations. The Castlevania franchise is one of my favorite games to play, and Hellsing Ultimate is one of my favorite animes of all time. I have always been a fan of vampires in the fantasy genre, and although I am glad many people loved Twilight, I have to say that I am slightly saddened by how it changed the way vampires are portrayed and assessed in the masses. But Empire of the Vampire, a novel that is often pitched as The Name of the Wind meets The Road, The Witcher, and Interview with the Vampire, delivered what I've been craving and love about vampires in dark fantasy. I am eagerly waiting for the second book in the trilogy, which I think will top Empire of the Vampire in every possible way.

“You’re past is stone, but your future clay. And you decide the shape of the life you’ll make.”

You can order this book from: Blackwells (Free International shipping)

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Profile Image for Nicole.
510 reviews14.3k followers
September 20, 2022
Dałabym 5 gwiazdek gdyby obcięto ją o 300 stron. Nabrałaby nieco dynamiczności, a nie odjęłoby to nic z fabuły. Gdyby nie to, że mocno się w sobie zaparłam, żeby skończyć ją w 3 dni to bardzo bym się męczyła.
Bardzo podobało mi się to filmowe zakończenie i będę czekała na kontynuację.
Profile Image for James Tivendale.
317 reviews1,343 followers
December 26, 2021
I received an advanced review copy of Empire of the Vampire in exchange for an honest review. Thank you to Jay Kristoff and Harper Voyager. Minor spoilers may follow.

"It was the twenty-seventh year of daysdeath in the realm of the Forever King, and his murderer was waiting to die."

The murderer is Gabriel de Leon. Paleblood. Silversaint. Vampire-hunter and bane of the creatures of the night. He is a legend and having settled a vendetta, killing the Forever King, he is now at the mercy of his enemies. The new ruler of the vampires wishes for Gabriel's story to be recorded before his demise. In a similar fashion to The Name of the Wind, the historian Jean-François of the Blood Chastain chronicles the events of our protagonist's epic tale, as told by the chevalier Gabriel himself.

With this being the setup, in addition to the above-mentioned "present-day" storyline, there are two past timelines that the killer recounts. The first of these surrounds the events of Gabriel's teenage years including his relationships with his parents and sisters, daysdeath and the increased strength and threat of the vampire empire, his infatuation with blood, and his perplexing abilities which leads Gabriel to the brotherhood of the Silversaints. The second of the past accounts finds a thirty-something, disgruntled, addict Gabriel, whose deeds are the tales of legends. He reluctantly joins a sort of fellowship, bemused to find himself part of a prophecy that relates to a god Gabriel thinks is a prick.

Gabriel is an awesome character. He's humorous, bitter, witty, sweary, and world-weary. He isn't thrilled to have to tell his tale to the vampire historian but, as the stories progress, there is some excellent back-and-forth banter between the duo. An element that often made me smirk is when the historian will tap his quill on his manuscript, a nonchalant reminder to Gabriel that the Queen of Vampires wishes for him to explain certain parts in-depth, as if to a child. As Kristoff jokes in his Goodreads review of this novel, this is definitely for adults and is "not a book for children". I'd hesitate to say that it is a bit too dark and violent for even the youths of the vampire empire. By the historian doing this though, it adds extra depth and insight and makes for clever worldbuilding when explaining intricacies such as the vampire houses, or familial powers or legacies, etc... Gabriel's "I don't give a fuck"-attitude is prevalent in these exchanges too, especially when Gabriel opts to time hop in his tale instead of telling it chronologically, to the frustration of Jean-François. The Silversaint calmly signals the word PATIENCE that is tattooed on his knuckles.

I read de Leon, especially as he ages, as being reminiscent of Geralt of Rivia from Sapkowski's The Witcher Saga. He comes across as a reluctant hero at certain points, a legendary warrior and swordsman that possesses magical abilities, with acts of bravery or heroism normally following a sigh or a "for-fuck's-sake" grunt. At least that's how I envisaged him.

"I am the boy's master. He's impatient. Arrogant. Far too keen for glory. But he's one of the finest swords I've trained, and he took down this highblood alone, drugged to the eyeballs on rêvre. If what I suspect of his line is true... he could be the greatest of us, Talon." "Or the most terrible."

Although this is Gabriel de Leon's tale, he shares the page-time and has interesting relationships with a whole range of intriguing characters. Favourites for me were the rival Aaron de Coste, the master Greyhand, the enigma Dior, and the Holy Sister Astrid. He also has a slightly unhinged talking blade called Ashdrinker. The members of the Forever King's family whose paths cross with Gabriel's in Empire of the Vampire make for fine antagonists, being imposing, beautiful, ageless, and terrifying. A part that I really enjoyed and applaud Kristoff for the way he presented this, was when a character we were familiar with from de Leon's youth returns to the page over a decade and a half later in the other timeline. This brought a few true smiles to my face.

There is a lot to enjoy here in Kristoff's horror-tinged, vampire-laden, epic fantasy tale. In fact, it was the most I’ve enjoyed a fantasy novel for a long time. I thought it was very well written, being descriptive enough for my mind to fill in the blanks, crafting some impeccable imagery, and adrenaline-fuelling grand set-pieces. Occasionally dancing on the line of melodramatic, but for me personally, it stayed on the right side, being more cinematic than needlessly extravagant. Empire of the Vampire is packed with many stand-out scenes, and knowing that this is only a portion of de Leon's legendary tale, I'll be picking up a copy of the sequel as soon as I can. 9/10.

Final Note: The internal artwork by Bon Orthwick (@monolimeart) is incredible.
Profile Image for Ashley.
827 reviews481 followers
September 2, 2023
Star Rating: —> ALL. OF. THE. STARS. (!)
[ But if we have to get technical/ official here... FIVE(5) bright, bursting with light, Stars ! ]


RE-READ 2!— 02/03/23 Literally having a reading crisis atm so I picked this up, cause I can never get enough of this book, this world. Also, apparently, it is the month of reading 600-750 page books 😂. I, without a doubt , am bloody head over heels in love with this damn book! ♥️

RE-READ— 12/15/21 [ Well, f*ck. my. face. (!) FIVE (5), bursting with light, & lifeblood, Stars, again, of course. What other outcome would you expect ?! 😉 ]


Which, quite honestly, I know that may sound pretty odd, given how dark as night this novel was, but every single aspect of it was a bright & incredible light in my eyes. I mean, the signature Kristoff move of holding your heart in a vise and adjusting it as he sees fit, in a cycle over & over & over... think, for a moment, on how you'd let loose your heart to end up in that vise in the first place. Some sort of witchery? Perhaps. But honestly, that is just a mark of an incredible f*cking story & an incredible f*cking storyteller.

TORTUOUS GD genius that he is! You'd think that it would be just plain painful... but no, nope, not a chance. For all the pain, there was so much utter bliss (not so much for the characters, though, because they face all manners of hardship for just a drop of happiness, it feels like...), in reading this absolutely fantastic tale.

Who doesn't love to cheer for the underdog?
For the Fallen Hero? (Especially the ones who bite back, & bite back, our Fallen Hero & MC, Gabriel De León, most assuredly, & certainly, does.😉)
There is a certain kind of bliss, indeed, in this, because it begets emotions & a Hope so strong, that every moment, every minor detail, may as well be as important as the breath you breathe, itself.

This, my friends, is the very moment where you've made the decision to put your heart in the author's hands. Where every beat of said heart becomes dependent on the fate of the characters, the story being told, the words on the page.
Yes, it becomes a truly euphoric addiction, of sorts. Kristoff is a master of this very specific sort of addiction. He sucks you in off the damn bat (i'm so sorry for my two terrible vampire puns there, but I HAD TO. Haha), and once he does? I believe you know what happens.

The secret is in the telling, as they say .

But... GAH HOW DARE HE?!?? (yeahhhh—i'm totally just kidding on that one, something MAJOR, haha; I have come to expect this treatment from Mr. Kristoff, but keep coming back for more! I stopped asking that particular question a long while ago. So; yep. Hypocrite, I am not 😂).

My eyes & cheeks are stained with tears, and yet, IT WAS SO DAMN WORTH IT.

Why was it so worth it, you ask?

“‘A little pain never hurt anybody, eh?'"

Pretty sure that's Kristoff's motto in life 😂. Gotta love him—because there is probably, IMHO, never a statement as true as this. There is no light without darkness. Life is an endless circle of positives & negatives, and one can never exist without the other. And to embrace it? That takes an immense amount of strength. It is proof that we have lived—that we are STILL living, still alive... we are survivors.

My instant gratification filled self does NOT know how I am going to wait for only God knows how long for another TOME in this dark, savage, gritty, sarcastic as all hell, heart-killing, heart-warming (yeah, that sounds like a joke to me as well, but it is heart-warming, when it's not, you know, tearing your heart out), series. The hardcover copy of this book is A GIANT that looks 1000+ pages long—but, no, it is only around 750 pages which go much faster than I could've ever imagined.

I was so utterly enthralled with this PHENOMENAL novel that I read it in one day (!) from mid afternoon to 11 PM with only a break for dinner and whatnot; that is how just absolutely insanely gripping this was; just... *smh* how damn astounding this was.

And the ending... oh my God, that f*cking ending...

Holy. Shit. Just... Holy Freaking Shit!!!

Goodness— I just have no more words, atm. This is something you absolutely have to hold in your own hands & read with your own eyes.

BUT— I just have to say... it really is just BLOODY BRILLIANT, just... an absolute masterpiece ! (Like, possibly one of the best books i've ever read in my entire life—and I assure you, I have read a metric SH*T TON of books in my life😂; way more than it shows on GR because I only started using it in 2017—level Brilliant, with a capital f*cking B !)

100% recommend to new adult & adult dark fantasy lovers. Possibly even upper level YA readers, as well. AND of course, all of the vampire-loving heathens like me out there ! Haha.



Well, if you don't like adult themes such as the following, this may not be the one for you: sexual situations, cursing (although if you were one who doesn't appreciate those so-called foul words, I don't think you'd have even made it this far through my review 😂), like LIT-ER-ALLY— LOADS & LOADS & LOADS & then some, of cursing/ foul language (I love it! Haha), graphic depictions of violence/ torture-ish(?), ideations of suicide on maybe one or two occasions, depictions of drug & alcohol addiction & withdrawal, death, lots & lots of death (don't want to say of who or what as to not spoil any of the story)... gah & if there is anything else that I remember later, i'll be sure to add it!


I had this marked as want to read when it was untitled, bc pfffft c’mon- Kristoffffff, but id be lying if i didnt say i was FLIPPING MY SHIT ATM

SO excited. I feel like gollum coveting the ring rn 😂😂😂
February 6, 2022
Five 'blood drenched' stars, for a Vampire tale in the Empire of the Undead.

“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.”

I am about to tell you a story that was hundreds of years in the making, a story of deadly vows and death, of love, loss, fate and promise, as we are ‘sucked’ into a supernatural and gothic world of vampires and demons, as Jay Kristoff creates a lurid theatre of evil to reveal his latest masterpiece. That is appropriately titled ‘The Empire of the Vampire’.

So please lend me your throat… I mean ear. Of course, I meant ear. Because this story is gripping, scheming, and spine chilling and just ‘Bloody’ brilliant.

The Plot

Gabriel de Leon recalls the love, euphoria and peace he felt, in the arms of the woman he had promised his heart to, until the unthinkable happens and he sinks his teeth into her body, drinking the life from her and in that moment changing his own because “…he knew the colour of want. And that colour was red.”, But it also revealed who he was, and so is claimed by the ‘Empire and San Michon’ where he becomes defender of the empire, and keeper of the holy faith… the empires sword, their shield and their hope’. But all of it to save him from utter damnation, because he is a vampire.

However, failing to keep his oath, he fathers a child, and disobeys his orders which sets him against the Forever King. But with the death of his wife and child and with it every desperate notion, every bleak fantasy of a life in this new world, Gabriel embarks on a path of revenge himself, “.a time for killing, a time for blood, a time for rage. And in the moment, he decided…..a time to close your eyes and become the thing hell wants you to be. And so. I did”

Review and Comments

The sub plots are too numerous to list suffice to say this is one holy mass of intrigue that captivates and sucks you in through 700 pages of dark fantasy, supernatural love and promise, and evil that is unrelenting and penetrating. But with a difference, as Kristoff introduces us to modern vampire-ology which he has taken to a whole new level. Instead of the blood sucking, toe curling stories of vampires of the past, Jay introduces us to a new breed of vampire, a new concept, a new image and a new way to get lost in the tale of the other world.

I have not read many vampire stories to compare but I do know when I am hooked into an incredible and mind-blowing story that offers everything, an epic tale of forbidden love, a fantastic complex web that offers the thrill and dark menace of vampire-lore, superb world-building that lays the foundation for multi-layered plots that keep the twists, revelations and power struggles coming. A fiercely accomplished book that ‘sucks’ you in until the last page. It may feel long with a lot sub plots, some of them didn’t add much and could have been left out but overall the 'Empire of the Vampire' is bold, complex, intricate and ‘Bloody’ brilliant.

Some of my favourite quotes from the book:

“That’s the awful part about it: the worst days of your life start out just like any other”
“In justice and hope, no hope there be, In mercy and bliss, no bliss for thee, In death and truth, no truth I see, Through blood and fire, now dance with me.”
“When there’s little you can do, do what little you can”
“The greatest horrors forge the greatest heroes"
“It matters not what you hold faith in, but you must hold faith in something”
Profile Image for myo ⋆。˚ ❀ *.
819 reviews6,855 followers
October 18, 2021
i feel like this book is just purely based off of aesthetics and it almost got me too, i was loving Gabriel in the being, he’s like Geralt from The Witcher mixed with Klaus from TVD and i was eating it up at first. But as the book went on i began to not care, I don’t care for the side characters and i was getting bored. I noticed that Jay Kristoff focused on his flowery writing and aesthetics more than anything else and that was my problem with Nevernight as well. This book does remind me of Interview with the Vampire, i found that book very boring without plot. Sadly, this book is the same but what makes it worse is that it’s 700 pages so it just feels like it drags on. I really hope that the sequel focuses on plot because even though i don’t mind characterization the entire book, 700 pages of it with no plot is jusy unnecessary. Everyone wants to write a tomb but just because it’s big doesn’t mean it’s worth 5 stars.
Profile Image for Ira Perkins.
18 reviews38 followers
May 17, 2023
Best Vampire book ever! Not only will I stake my heart on that, but it's left me positively dying to read the sequel!

Final Rating: 4.5/5 🌕🌕🌕🌕🌗

To be honest, every other vampire book I've ever read has sucked. The whole genre just drives me batty, and I am yet to find a vampire character that I haven't found to be a giant pain in the neck. So despite glowing reviews from people who's views I respect, it was with a lot of trepidation that I delved into Jay Kristoff's "Empire of the Vampire." Lesson? Maybe I should go into more books with low expectations, as this book was flipping excellent! I found myself transported into a captivating, post-apocalyptic world, where vampire lore is hauntingly reimagined. The intricate journey of Gabriel de Leon, the last of the Silversaints, kept me hooked, making me grapple with themes of survival, faith, and power. It was a thrilling, immersive reading experience that breathed new life (risen from the crypt mayhaps?) into the vampire genre for me - or at least gave me an exception to the rule.

Gabriel de Leon

Plot Summary
"Empire of the Vampire" is a riveting, multi-layered narrative set in a world plunged into eternal darkness by a vampire-led apocalypse. The protagonist, Gabriel de Leon, the last of the Silversaints, is compelled to recount his life's tale to Jean-Francois, a vampire historian. The narrative oscillates between Gabriel's teenage years, his life as a disgruntled addict in his thirties, and the 'present-day' narrative. As a young man, Gabriel grapples with familial relationships, the escalating threat of the vampire empire, his infatuation with blood, and his peculiar abilities that lead him to the Silversaint brotherhood. Years later, Gabriel, now a jaded and disgruntled addict, finds himself unwillingly entwined in a prophecy and part of an unconventional fellowship. In the present timeline, a war-weary Gabriel faces his captor, resulting in a compelling exchange of tales filled with forbidden love, dark menace, power struggles, and the complexity of faith. This saga is a testament to survival and resilience in a world dominated by terror and uncertainty, leaving readers eagerly anticipating the sequel.

“If we spend all our lives in darkness, is it any wonder when darkness starts to live in us?”

Plot: 5/5
The plot is excellent! As mentioned, it's a dual-timeline narrative, with our main guy Gabriel recounting his life story in two distinct phases to a vampire historian, Jean-Francois. This back-and-forth timeline may sound jarring, but trust me, it works. It adds to the storytelling, giving us glimpses into Gabriel's past and present that weave together to form a complex, layered narrative.

This story offers it all - forbidden love, a thrilling exploration of vampire lore, power struggles, and unexpected twists. It's a beautifully woven tapestry of plots, each one adding to the others. Sure, it's a long book with quite a few subplots - some of which may feel like they're not adding much - but overall, "Empire of the Vampire" is a daring, intricate masterpiece. It's like a bloody roller coaster that keeps you on the edge of your seat, waiting anxiously to see what comes next.

Throughout the book, we see a compelling exploration of Gabriel's faith. It's a raw, honest look at a man pushed to his limits, reflecting on past battles and sacrifices, powerful foes, and a love that's as alluring as it is forbidden. We witness the slow erosion of Gabriel's faith and, interestingly, the author uses this to delve into the complex nature of belief and how it can take different shapes for different people. And even though we know Gabriel must've survived to tell his tale, Kristoff still manages to keep the suspense high and the atmosphere heavy with anticipation.

““It is my empress's will to know the whole of your tale.'
Gabriel reached into his battered britches, fished about under the monster's stare. Finally, he retrieved a tarnished royale from his pocket. 'Here.'
'What is that for?' Jean-François demanded.
'I want you to take this coin to market, and buy me a fuck to give.””

Characterisation: 5/5
If I had to pick one word to describe the characters in "Empire of the Vampire", it'd be 'real'. Kristoff has a knack for crafting characters that are as complex and flawed as they are captivating, and that definitely shines through in this book. Take Gabriel, the main guy - he's this mix of humor and bitterness, sarcasm, and world-weariness that just grabbed me. The exchanges between him and the vampire historian, complete with some solid banter and a healthy dose of "I don't give a damn" attitude, were a highlight for sure.

It's not just Gabriel, though. The book's filled with intriguing characters, each bringing their own unique flavor to the story. You've got the likes of the rival Aaron de Coste, the master Greyhand, the mysterious Dior, and Holy Sister Astrid. Oh, and let's not forget about Gabriel's slightly unhinged talking blade, Ashdrinker. I mean, how cool is that? The antagonists, members of the Forever King's family, are pretty damn imposing and fascinating as well - a mix of beauty, agelessness, and downright terror.

I think probably the best thing was the way the book shows you different stages of characters' lives. It's not easy to pull that off (and I've certainly read books where by showing you so much of a character it drags the story down into the realms of boredom), but Kristoff nails it. The character growth throughout the book, especially for Gabriel, is seriously impressive.

““What kind of hero are you?'
Gabriel laughed, shaking his head.
'Who the fuck told you I was a hero?””

Writing Style: 4/5
A bit of a mixed bag for me here, but with more positives than negatives. One moment, I found myself grinning at some brilliant quote, the next, I was rolling my eyes at some of the more juvenile jokes. There's definitely a fair share of dirty humor in there, which wasn't always my cup of tea. Through it all though Kristoff's writing style is intense and vivid, the sort that drags you in and doesn't let go.

And let me tell you this, when Kristoff hits the mark, he really hits the mark. His descriptions are the kind that make you feel like you're right there in the thick of it, right alongside the characters. There were moments when his writing got a bit melodramatic, but even then, I was still pretty hooked.

There's a fair bit of swearing as well as some voyeuristic sexual content, so it's definitely not a book I'd hand over to a kid, but honestly? It works. The rough and raw language feels right for the story, and it never got old. And man, Kristoff knows how to write a dark, grim scene and still make it beautiful - that's some real talent right there. So yeah, despite some minor hiccups, Kristoff's writing is seriously impressive.

“Put a man in a room for a hundred years with a thousand books, and he’ll know a million truths. Put him in a room for a year with silence, and he’ll know himself.”

World Building: 4.5/5
Even though vampires and humans at war might seem like a pretty basic setup, the world of here is anything but. Kristoff has this way of making everything feel so rich and real that you can't help but get sucked in. What really brings this world to life, though, are the descriptions. The dark ambiance, the vivid imagery of the cities and people - it all combines to create this immersive atmosphere. The map at the beginning of the book helps with that, too, giving you a solid sense of the layout of this world. And let's not forget the awesome black and white illustrations by Bon Orthwick sprinkled throughout the book. Honestly, for me it's the sort of world that keeps you thinking long after I've put the book down - I'm really looking forward to the next installment.

My only problem when it comes to world building (and unfortunately it's a relatively big one in terms of personal preferences) is that I'm not typically a big fan of vampires in fantasy. They've never really been my thing. But even though the vampires here come with all the usual bells and whistles - you know, the typical powers and traits - Kristoff's writing goes a long way to saving the day for me. It's was so well done that it made even the most "vampire cliche" parts pretty good - although I'll admit I did skim a few of them.

“You're sailing awfully close to the shores of a little island most call None of Your Fucking Business.”

Enjoyment: 4/5
This book was a captivating experience that brilliantly revitalized vampire lore through its intricate narrative, profound characters, and Kristoff's exceptional writing. Despite minor hiccups like occasional juvenile humor, language that was slightly too melodramatic for my tastes and some traditional vampire cliches, the story triumphed through its engrossing depiction of Gabriel's layered journey of trials, power struggles, and faith. The vivid world-building, including the dark ambiance, vivid imagery, and Orthwick's striking illustrations, further enriched the narrative, making it an incredibly immersive experience. Though there were elements that didn't align with my personal preferences, the overall impact was an exhilarating read that left me eagerly anticipating the sequel.

If you've read this far. I'm sorry (but also not sorry) for the puns earlier.

Final Rating: 4.5/5 🌕🌕🌕🌕🌗

My favourite books of 2023 in preferential order
1. The Shadow of the Gods - (My Review)
2. The Lies of Locke Lamora
3. The Forgetting Moon - (My Review)
4. Kings of the Wyld - (My Review)
5. Red Seas Under Red Skies - (My Review)
6. The Escape Artist: The Man Who Broke Out of Auschwitz to Warn the World
7. Empire of the Vampire - (My Review)
8. Assassin's Apprentice - (My Review)
9. Golden Son
10. Leviathan Wakes - (My Review)
11. The Winter King - (My Review)
12. Gardens of the Moon - (My Review)
13. The Song of Achilles - (My Review)
14. Red Sister - (My Review)
15. Babel: An Arcane History - (My Review)
Profile Image for ♠ TABI⁷ ♠.
Author 15 books488 followers
February 16, 2022
"I swear by the Almighty, Mothermaid, and all Seven Martyrs," Aaron sighed, "I've never heard a tale half so strange as this."


I somehow managed to power through this sprawling drag of a novel that was basically nothing much except blood, gore, weird sexual descriptions, and so-called "humor" that took 700+ pages to really do not much of anything. Which is really hilarious when the author thinks it's a stunning masterpiece (and literally threw a fit on Instagram when this wasn't chosen for GR Choice) when, at the core, this book comes off as written by a creepy, privileged man who had a bad religious background that made him very angry and gets off on writing voyeuristic sexual scenes about LGBTQ+ characters . . . a pair of which are teenaged girls . . . but also has a masturbation fixation?? Can't believe V.E. Schwab did a cover blurb for THIS.


And look, I absolutely knew what I was getting into when I picked this book up. I came into this to roast it and see JUST how bad it might get, considering the problematic (and really just not that great) content and writing of his previous books. And when I say I expected it to be BAD, well, it really didn't disappoint me . . .


'The vampire's eyes widened in alarm. "Scandalous."
"Mock if you will."
"Merci, I believe I shall."


I would have maybe appreciated this book better if it didn't take itself so seriously. Instead, there was a machine-gun barrage of gross and unnecessary innuendos and rambling soliloquy rants that belong in a blog post or notes app screenshots post. There was so much voyeuristic sexual content along with a problematic male gaze/view, homophobia and related slurs, misogyny not-so-stealthily hidden towards "strong women" characters, choppy writing, forced humor and way, way too much banter. This was peak Jay Kristoff stuffed into this book and, if I hadn't cemented myself into finishing it and writing this review, I would have dropped this book in the first chapter.

And, again, I just find it hilarious how serious this book tried to take itself, because if it was a satire or a comedy?? Absolutely here for it. I mean, how can you have something like this'spirits that strong will burn like a trencherman’s fart in a candleshop'—and other various phrases and expect this book to be viewed as something edgy, something dark, something just so gruesome and unique and whining about how your magnificent "magnum opus" didn't make GR Choice selection blah blah WHEN YOU WRITE LIKE THIS???

Anyways, author issues and bad writing aside . . . This really wasn't a good story.

"They made a lion of you. They made a legend. A foe even the Forever King learned to fear."


Gabriel What's-His-Face has risen up and given challenge to Aelin for the amount of self-confidence affirmations and introductions because I bet that almost HALF this book could have been done away with if all of the "I'm a lion" sentences had been scrapped. Besides that, he's a Speshul Boy™️ from a conveniently-forgotten bloodline (still wasn't explained how DEAD creatures were able to procreate okay) and rises up as a super famous warrior BEFORE HE'S EVEN TWENTY like okay so that happened.

But don't forget all the heavy religious overtones!! And settings!! Actually, it's totally okay if you forget stuff because the book reminds you again and again of all the Very Important Things™️ every twenty pages. It's all of that which makes the book so large and FOREVER to make the points it attempted to make near the end of it all.


I'm also gonna talk about the language in here, and by language I mean not-English and how the author doesn't seem to get that YOU CAN JUST WRITE IN ENGLISH IT'S OKAY using 'oui', 'merci', and 'ma famille' instead of yes, thanks, and my family (gonna ignore the halfway-started use of KEN for KNOW/KNOWING) okay! It doesn't add multicultural flavor; it just makes you look like an appropriator and looks dumb when used like that. I'll forgive it on Wattpad but not in a book published by a major company nor from an author who should really know better.


Is this review rambling and confusing and bouncing all over the place? Yes, of course it is, I'm just matching the vibe of the book okay.

"Our dead stay dead, Silversaint. Yours rise against you."


There is a reason I rated this book two stars and one star is for the glimmers of potential I caught out of the mess and appreciated . If this concept was written by ANYONE ELSE that wouldn't be throwing sex jokes and drunken rages about God at the reader on almost every page . . . I would have liked it. The vampires in here are VAMPIRES and I can applaud how they're not romanticized or humanized in here—they're cold-blooded ancients out for domination and, unfortunately for humanity, they've got the strength to do that.

'Monsters rising from beds of cold earth and slipping on the façade that they were something close to human.'

But, that other star just might be for Jean-Francois and how the author's tendency to write nothing but banter or snarling or bad fucking just FIT for that one character. If Gabe is the author self-insert then the classy, dandy vampire historian Jean-Francois is MY self-insert and, no, you can't change my mind. Which just goes to show that, if done in the right angle and chilling out on the "your mama" jokes and overuse of variables on the word "fuck" . . . this style CAN work. It just doesn't work here.

"Fuck me," I breathed.
"The Testaments name sodomy a deadly sin, so I'd rather not." Talon offered a brief smile. "But you're very pretty, de León, and I appreciate the offer."


This is one of the most blaringly obvious parts of the book that is written with the tone of "ha ha ha this is just how soldiers word spar with each other" and, before anyone pops up to say that this said by a Bad Guy™️ . . . it's not the ONLY homophobic/LGBTQ+ unfriendly thing in this book. It's just one of the first, followed by a very graphic and hateful outing & treatment of a gay pairing who thankfully doesn't die BUT is still horribly mistreated. That didn't need to happen and I don't care if they are now living happily in their own fort. Because the way this author writes queer characters is done in a way like it's just pandering to diversity check-boxes for sales and "look I'm not homophobic I have gay characters" than actually giving representation . . . but is also feeding a kink, especially with all the voyeurism attached to it.


But the straight relationship isn't even written that well either?? It's all over-the-top flowery euphemisms and ''oooh this is sinful isn't it??" that makes all Kindle Unlimited romance books shine a little stronger in comparison. I've read better sex scenes than the cismale viewpoint I got here and read books that did vampire sex kinks better justice ¯\_(ツ)_/¯

Moving on!!!

"If it hadn’t been for God’s insistence on shoving his prick into my earhole at every opportunity, we’d have been gold as a sailor’s best teeth."

"Our good initiate will eventually figure out that your breasts, whilst magnificent, aren't any real impediment to combat prowess."

"It's not your todger, you can take your hand off it occasionally."

Jay Kristoff writing these things like:


If half the book could have been pared down by scrapping Gabe's rants and reminding everyone "I've got a lion in these veins bruh" then the other half of this book could be tossed by getting rid of ALL the genitalia references, innuendo, stupid one-liners, attempts at raunchy quips every other sentence, and also sentences that just plain didn't make sense and read . . . weird. Just read my highlights & reading updates to see more of the hilarity that was this writing and story. I truly think this is my last Kristoff book because I'm done seeing if he's gonna write any better. I'm done with this author shoving his ideas of what makes a great novel down reader's throats and expecting them to shut up and take it and LIKE it . . . especially when IT'S NOT THAT FANTASTIC OF A STORY. If anything, this is average fantasy just done up in a bit more gore and violence.


So, the rundown, as if this giant review wasn't enough already:

—there's better books out there
—if you want gore and bad sex jokes on every page, you'll like this book
—horses die left and right and it's awful
—there is barely any plot just one-liners and rants about how much Gabe (and probably Kristoff) hate God
—creepy gay voyeurism isn't cool no matter how times you try to write as if it is
—the cover and illustrations are too powerful and well-done to belong to a book like this

And that's it!! I can rant as much as Gabe about this book, I will not hesitate to defend my opinion on this rather bad book, and now I'm off to read better things and count this as my farewell to Jay Kristoff's works. May he somehow miraculously become a better writer.


Profile Image for Gavin Hetherington.
673 reviews6,107 followers
April 8, 2021
A huge thank you to HarperVoyager for sending me an ARC copy of 'Empire of the Vampire' by Jay Kristoff.

I've not long finished this and I'm still trying to process my feelings. I have been wanting to sink my teeth into a really good vampire story for such a long time, and this FINALLY gave me that fix that I've been craving forever. This is dark, bloody and downright entertaining. I was filled with a constant sense of dread every time I turned a page for fear of what was going to happen next.

The characters are so likeable and life-like that I felt invested in their stories and their mission. I loved the way this story is told too, as our protagonist is recounting his adventures to a vampire who has him prisoner. I didn't expect the amount of emotion this book has and what it made me feel, and there were many moments where I physically reacted.

The story jumps back and forth and it's a format I ended up loving as we got to see glimpses into different characters and get more context behind something, and more. It really pays off as we head towards the end of the story. And let me tell you, I'm dying for the next book. This was just DRIPPING with plot and I couldn't wait to find out what happened next, but also not, because I just knew there would be more bloodshed or something.

There are a lot of exciting and memorable moments throughout this and the picture this painted in my head was gorgeously gothic and macabre - everything I wanted from this book going into it. Cannot wait for the final copy so I can see all of the illustrations, because the few that the ARC had were simply gorgeous. I have a spoiler-free reading vlog of this coming soon so I'm excited to share that.
Profile Image for SK.
310 reviews2,724 followers
February 26, 2023
2.5 stars✨

It was okay-ish but not something that was mind blowing. It had its moments but as a whole it bored me. It does have the Witcher vibes to it tho.

Will keep the review simple.

What I liked
World building- It's rich, immersive and so dark.
The writing- I gotta give it to the author, the way he wrote it is commendable. Although the book did not work for me, I appreciated the amount of thought and work that was put in. Some of the quotes are just chef's kiss.
Gabriel- Our main character, he was so flawed, so morally grey..maybe just grey towards the end. Idk what to make of him. Was he a good guy or bad? You are the judge but he certainly was interesting. I also liked the supporting character, Dior.
The art illustrations- I had the physical copy of this book, and the art in it is simply beautiful.
Ending- It was worth investing my time and energy in this mammoth book.

What I didn't like
Pacing- For a 700+ pages book, it did not help that it was also slow. I should have expected it, but I chose not to and well that's on me. I skimmed a bit before the ending. It simply bored me at times and this is one big factor to why my rating is so low.
Inconsistent storytelling- The whole book is set up with Gabriel narrating his story, it would've been so much better had his story followed one particular timeline at a time. It kept jumping and it made things a tad confusing. Also whenever something interesting happened, the next chapter didn't follow through with it. Another big factor to why my rating is low.
The Middle- I liked the former half of the first half and the latter half of the second half. The middle was kinda meh only cause it was dragging a lot. I was bored.
Blasphemy- Look, I get it I signed up for a dark fantasy and I got it. This is the first time I am reading anything from this author so I had zero idea. I also understand that the religion portrayed in this book is not real but it is based on or inspired by Catholicism. Thought it was a bit much.

Overall, it is something that everyone will have different opinions on. I'll still continue with the series and see how it goes.


My official review ends here, I am inserting a Christian perspective review of this book, feel free to read or not. This is just something that I felt I had to address🤷‍♀️

I read fantasy cause it's a genre I've always enjoyed reading, and one that I won't stop reading. I take it as a work of fiction and nothing else, which is what I did here too. Nothing to learn from it. My beliefs don't make an impact on the rating of the book but I had to take the blasphemy into consideration. While others will point fingers and say it's my fault to read it.. well it's not up to you, it's my opinion.

That being said, some of the things are loosely based on or inspired by Christian and Catholicism beliefs. As a Christian (am not a Catholic), some of the things felt slightly uncomfortable to read. There's mention of Almighty God, Redeemer, some of the things and perspectives are Biblical in nature. So when they're used in vain, and to act in vain..it's not an easy read for a Christian. There are more complexities to the events that happened in the book biblically, but I won't get it into that cause if it's Almighty God's Will, He will reveal it to others.

Anyway, what I'm saying is it might not be an easy read for a Christian so if you feel reading something like this will be triggering or sinning.. please don't. I took it as a work of fiction, my faith is not shaken. But it can be a difficult read. So if you do feel in your conscience that it's wrong, please go with that.
Profile Image for Becca & The Books.
323 reviews6,801 followers
October 27, 2021
4.5 stars

In Empire of the Vampire we are following the infamous Black Lion, Gabriel de Leon, as he recounts his life story to a historian shortly before he is executed for the murder of the Forever King.
Throughout the course of the book, Gabriel tells his story across 2 timelines - his early days being initiated into the Silversaints, a holy order dedicated to fighting back against the creatures of night, and over a decade later, as he stumbles into an old friend and joins her quest to find the Holy Grail, the only thing prophesied to end the endless night.

I enjoyed this a lot. The dreary atmosphere was unparalleled, I loved Gabriel and enjoyed the parallels between his youth as a naive young boy full of hope and his early thirties, where he is a bitter man who has lost all faith
I loved the elements of found family (as always) and my favourite characters were the lordly Aaron de Coste and the wily Dior LaChance. I also found that I was absorbed from page one and blasted through this chunky tome in a handful of days.

All of this being said, this one slightly missed the mark for me, hence the 4.5 star rating. I felt like this wasn't anything particularly new from Kristoff. Many paralells can be drawn between this and Nevernight (one of my favourite series of all time) and nothing took me by surprise because everything that unfolded was everything I expect from a Kristoff novel.

While there are no footnotes in this one, the world building was disclosed in a similar style, with our historian Jean Francois frequently stopping Gabriel's narration to remind him that he should recount the story "as if to a child", after which, Gabriel would roll his eyes and explain what the term he used means. I felt that while in Nevernight, this form of world building can be written of as a stylistic choice, it read to me like disjointed and lazy in Empire of The Vampire.

Personal preference wise, I really don't like books that heavily feature real-world religion, and while the One Faith is fantastical, it is clearly very heavily modelled off Christianity. This put me off a bit, purely based on my own preferences, but I will say that by the time I reached the page 450 mark, it had stopped bothering me.

So overall, I liked it a lot, I think it's very good. The world was immersive, the story was compelling and evoked emotion, I was rooting for the characters, but it kind of feels like I've read it before.
Profile Image for ivanareadsalot.
399 reviews54 followers
September 17, 2021

DNF 41% basically throwing money away.

What a waste of a gorgeous book cover.

I am wondering why Robin Hobb (I love) and John Gwynne are bigging up this puerile flex of profanity, your mama/wife jokes, and Periods as an excuse for bitchiness referenced TWICE in the span of a few pages (my gawd, hi, the 90s called and they said to tell you that v-health bashing is passé *eye-roll*).

Moving on.

Utterly boring dogmatic pontification (of the lazily disguised Catholic secret sect variety) but, get this, with tattoos (ummm hello, Peter V Brett would appreciate your stanning via his socials/Dms).

M/M sex referred to as sodomy (that means rape, in case anyone cares, a term which has absolutely no bearing on what happens between consenting adults) but yet underaged sexing/ problematic behaviour exhibited by the sketchy adults in the first half of this book is part of the narrative. I shudder.

I thought I'd be able to get through this but it's really a litany of vulgarity, and I'm bored of how many times I have to read that Gabe is into women, or something about their milky thighs, or some serving woman/thrall who reminds him of whoring or/ of a brothel or something to that effect that I've already tuned out and forgotten. Oh, and of course, breasts.

I get it. Sort of.

I mean, I thought Gabe took vows of chastity or some shit. So I don't really understand this continuous affirmation of het sex as a thing. In this story. Chock full of nuns and Brothers. Who cuss and quote scripture in the same breath. Which, by virtue, is the absolute fuckin opposite of sexy. Unless that's like your fetish or something. Right.

I'm really mad that this book had Alucard potential, but it's really just two-dimensional vapid characters braying, bullying and being insufferably boring.

There were three vampire fights. At 40%.

There are better books to read... definitely ones more surreptitious about biting Game of Thrones' white walkers and LOTR's love of the pipe.
Profile Image for megs_bookrack.
1,605 reviews10.7k followers
Want to read
December 27, 2022
I'm pulling the plug on this one for the moment at 36%. This isn't an official DNF.

I may pick it up again later. I mean, I am not in a rush about it, but it could happen.

I'm just not into it at the moment. There's nothing inherently wrong with it. I like the set-up and the writing is lush, with dark, descriptive elements.

However, it is requiring way more brain power than I am willing to invest in it right now. This definitely has a heavy, epic fantasy feel, which I generally love, but yeah, I am not tracking any of the names, or events, currently. Perhaps at another time it will work better for me.

Goodbye for now to these characters. I hardly knew you!


ARC received!!! Day made!!! Commence freaking out!!!

Thank you so much, St. Martin's Press. I absolutely cannot wait to devour this!
Profile Image for Lucie V..
1,012 reviews2,051 followers
May 9, 2022
I received a 400 pages SAMPLER of this book via NetGalley (thank you St Martin's Press). All thoughts and opinions are my own.
*This is a review for the whole book, not just the sampler*

✅ Great writing
✅ Cruel and vicious vampires
✅ Beautiful cover
✅ Thorough world-building
✅ Dark atmosphere
✅ Characters
✅🆗 Pace
❗️❗️ This is not a book for kids, it is bloody, vulgar, and dark.

4.5 stars

There is a time for grief, and a time for songs, and a time to recall with fondness all that has been and gone. But there is a time for killing too. There is a time for blood, and a time for rage, and a time to close your eyes and become the thing heaven wants you to be.

This book is gritty, bloody, and deliciously dark.

Gabriel is the last of the Silversaints, a group of holy vampire hunters, and the book starts right after he is captured by Her Grace Margot Chastain, the Undying Empress of Wolves and Men. Marquis Jean-Francois Chastain, the Empress’ historian, has been tasked with writing a detailed account of Gabriel's life before his execution and the book is about that. I admit that I was a little wary when I realized that this whole book would be about Gabriel reminiscing and telling his story to Jean-François... For one, I am not a fan of flashbacks in books, and I was afraid that I wouldn’t be as involved in the story knowing that no matter what happened, Gabriel would obviously survive since he was still very much alive (although captive and on his way to his execution) and able to tell his story, but I was positively surprised by the result.

I was sucked into this book after a few pages only, thanks to the amazing writing and dark ambiance. The pace is good, the plot is intriguing enough to keep me hooked and the time jumps were very well written and not confusing. The weaving of the present timeline and Gabriel’s past was greatly done and I really enjoyed reading about his journey. I have to say though, that you really need to be in “the right mood” for this type of darker and heavier book if you want to really enjoy it.

The writing is also definitely a strength (not to say the strength) of this book. It is dark and lyrical, but it was not too much or too descriptive. Be aware that the dialogues are vulgar though and there is a lot of blasphemy. There was a good balance of descriptions, action, and snark, and I LOVED IT.

There’s a beast in all men’s blood, Gabriel. You can starve him. Cage him. Curse him. But in the end, you pay the beast his due, or he takes his due from you.

Gabriel is a very snarky main character and he doesn’t seem to give a shit about anything. Because of his antagonistic attitude towards almost everyone, it was a little hard to get to know him and to care for him at first, but I just love his “I don’t give a shit and I’m not taking any shit from you either” attitude. His interactions with the other characters made me smile and even laugh a few times. He just decided that he would treat people the way they deserved it, and it so happen that most people deserve to be treated like shit, according to him.

Gabriel reached into his battered britches, fished about under the monster’s stare. Finally, he retrieved a tarnished royale from his pocket. “Here.”
“What is that for?” Jean-François demanded.
“I want you to take this coin to market, and buy me a fuck to give.”

While everyone sees Gabriel as a hero, this notion seems to annoy him. He knows that he is good at slaying vampires, but he has no illusion about his character’s worth: he is far from being a hero in shining armor, ready to sweep in to save a damsel in distress. He laughs out loud when people call him a hero and does not hesitate to set the records right and let them know that he’s no hero at all. He is ruthless, brutal, and cold (and drunk sometimes), but more than that, he is a survivor. The fact that he is fierce has a magical sword that can communicate with him telepathically, has magical tattoos, and is a half-vampire hell-bent on eradicating the scum of the world also makes him all the more cool and badass.

“’God didn’t want me. And the devil was too afraid to open the door.’

The world-building is also great. The descriptions and lyrical writing do help to create a dark ambiance and I could picture the cities and people very vividly (the map at the beginning of the book also helps). There are also some black and white awesome artworks by Bon Orthwick throughout the book showing us the characters, which made it all feel even more real.

Law the First, “The dead cannot kill the Dead.”
Law the Second, “Dead tongues heeded are Dead tongues tasted”
Law the Third, “The Dead run quick”
Law the Fourth, “The Dead feel as beasts, look as men, die as devils.”
Law the Fifth, “Even the Dead have laws.”

While this book doesn't end with a cliffhanger, there are some twists near the end and some revelations that shocked me and I am very excited to know what awaits Gabriel in the next book.

**Just some extra infos**

The four vampire bloodlines:
Blood Voss: House of the Forever King. Skin can turn as hard as steel, mind readers.
Blood Chastain: Can control animals, a few rare individuals can shapeshift.
Blood Ilon: Can manipulate emotion (on top of being able to bend will as all vampires can).
Blood Dyvok: Unparalleled strength, even among vampires they are insanely strong.

The Orders:
Brothers of the Hunt: silversaints, vampire hunters
Brothers of the Hearth: bind books, craft weaponry, and create tools
Silver Sisters: sisterhood of nuns, keepers of the monastery

Fanarts by Bon Orthwick

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Profile Image for Angelica.
814 reviews1,149 followers
Want to read
March 23, 2021
Vampires are making a comeback and the late 2000's are quaking
Profile Image for Overhaul.
315 reviews699 followers
September 15, 2022
"Han pasado 27 años desde el último amanecer.."

(Leído en inglés, será publicado por Nocturna el 19 de Septiembre, en unos días. Os animo estimadas amistades, encarecidamente, a leer esta joya. Le auguro muchísimo éxito, como ha tenido en su lengua natal.)

Durante tres décadas, los vampiros han luchado contra los humanos, cimentando así su imperio eterno mientras el nuestro se desangra. Ahora los que sobrevivimos somos sólo unas chispas de luz en un mar de oscuridad creciente.

Gabriel de León es el último miembro de la Orden de Plata, dedicada a defender el reino y la iglesia antes de que los arrasaran. Su destrucción fue imparable cuando la luz del día nos abandonó.

Condenado a muerte por el asesinato del rey vampiro, el último miembro de la hermandad sagrada se ve obligado a contar la historia de su vida. Una historia que abarca años, desde su juventud en la abadía de San Michon y el amor prohibido que presagió su ruina hasta la traición que aniquiló la orden.

Una historia de batallas legendarias con criaturas de la noche, de fe perdida y aliados improbables, de las guerras de la sangre, del Rey Eterno y de la última esperanza que le quedaba a la humanidad antes de que los monstruos lo redujeran a cenizas.

Porque las últimas palabras de Gabriel serán, en definitiva, nuestro epitafio..

Una lectura oscura, sangrienta y brillante, sin haber leído su anterior trilogía creo que este es el mejor trabajo de Kristoff, teje una épica y aterradora historia de vampiros. Vampiros de verdad.

Para mi esta es su obra cumbre. Y cómo escribe, esos toques de cinismo y humor, me recordó a Abercrombie.

Una historia sombría, llena de desesperación existencial y esperanza en medio de toda la maldad y la brutalidad del mundo. Tiene un estilo melodramático y un ritmo feroz, lo que evocaba vívidamente el mundo sombrío y lleno de peligros de la narración. Una narrativa muy sarcástica pero sobretodo cínica.

Me ha dejado con ganas de más. Una historia y un mundo envueltos por un manto de misterio y acción. La intriga de saber más sobre el origen de los misteriosos vampiros o la razón por la que el sol se vuelve negro.

Es una sensación agradable y entusiasta la de terminar el libro y querer otro, tener la cabeza funcionando hallando tus propias respuestas.

La eficaz forma en que el autor ha retratado el conflicto de la fe y problemas del fanatismo que persisten a lo largo de la narración ha sido un buen trabajo. Kristoff usa el tropo de una profecía, y también de una búsqueda pero a su vez lo hace de manera exitosa y poco importa.

Es muy agradable de leer, y pinta el paisaje con detalles que realzaron la emoción y elevaron las apuestas de un mundo gobernado por vampiros.

La narración en primera persona fue un acierto a partes parecido a "El Nombre del Viento" por cómo Gabriel nos cuenta su pasado y a quien se lo está contando. Ahí para mi lo supera, en este caso por quién es, y cómo se comportan ambos.

Una historia que una vez la empiezas, no paras, primero es por una cosa, luego por otra y luego se le añaden diez más. Todos los aspectos del libro, personajes, worldbuilding, trama, historia ya sea presente y pasado, giros, acción, humor y sexo, se llevan un 10. Nada flojea.

Lo aplaudo al señor Jay Kristoff, porque este libro es la ostia.

Las ilustraciones que acompañan al libro le dan otro toque acorde. Hace de su lectura algo más completo.

Esas escenas del presente de ambos personajes funcionó bastante bien. Le dio una profundidad personal a la historia y, además, el narrador es muy poco fiable, lo cual aumenta la sospecha e incertidumbre en una historia llena de secretos y revelaciones. Sangre y aceros. Vida y muerte.

Personajes moralmente grises y complejos con interesantes dinámicas de relación. Están bien perfilados y trabajados. Todos tienen algo. Y encajan muy bien en el mundo en el que están.

Por fin leo algo bueno de vampiros, últimamente no me gusta el camino que había tomado. Junta lo mejor de las piezas góticas literarias de Anne Rice. Jay Kristoff además escribe una historia salpicada de sangre y oscuridad. Los vampiros se presentan últimamente como algo hermoso e immortal, olvidando la parte monstruosa.

La acción es implacable y visceral cuando llega, y bastante gráfica. Escenas obscenas y con un humor negro y cínico infundido en la historia.

Nos presenta un mundo rico de fantasía lleno de tradiciones de sangre y clanes vampíricos con habilidades y un personaje principal que sólo podría describirse como una especie de cabrón bastardo que te cae bien, a partes...

Vulgaridad, humor negro, cinismo, seres de la noche sin piedad, una macabra representación de la violencia, el sexo y un corte de manga masivo a la iglesia. Todo encaja a la perfección con la estética y el ambiente vampírico gótico desenfrenado de esta historia, que se lleva mis cinco estrellas y unas ganas terribles de leer el segungo.

Ideas interesantes, frescas y sobretodo muy bien utilizadas y llevadas con giros y cambios de perspectiva.

Extremadamente recomendable..✍️
Profile Image for toointofiction.
216 reviews210 followers
July 26, 2022
"And in sight of God and his Seven Martyrs, I do here vow; Let the dark know my name and despair. So long as it burns, I am the flame. So long as it bleeds, I am the blade. So long as it sins, I am the saint. And I am silver."

Rating: ⭐⭐⭐⭐ (more like 3,75)

This review may contain some minor spoilers

⚠️Trigger Warning: Gore, violence, vulgar language, nudity, bloodsmut. NOT SUITABLE FOR YOUNGER READERS!⚠️

Well, I did it, guys. I finally finished it. It took me more than a week, I reached the point where I wanted to scream into my pillow from how long it was taking me to get to the end and from all the heartbreaking, bittersweet moments that ruined me. I need to know what happens next. NOW!!

I honestly did not have a lot of expectations for this one. For me, the jury's still out on Jay Kristoff. I was NOT really impressed with Nevernight to the point where I didn't continue the series and am still debating if I should give it another try, but The Aurora Cycle series was ABSOLUTELY INCREDIBLE. It blew my damn mind. I'm glad I gave Empire of the Vampire a shot, though. Aside from it taking me more than a week to finish because, despite the incredible story of Gabriel de Leon, the story really dragged on and on. There were times when I just couldn't focus, couldn't read anymore and that was really frustrating.

That, however, did little to stop me from completely losing my mind over the magnificence that was the storyline, the characters, and THE BEST VAMPIRE LORE I'VE READ FOR A VERY LONG TIME. Just...🤯🤯🤯 The ending only left me with more questions that need to be answered. Just thinking about it makes me what to scream again. Also while the writing style might have felt longer than it was, I still liked the descriptions, dialogue, revelations, and the smooth way the story switched from one timeline to another. Not to mention, the ABSOLUTELY INCREDIBLE ILLUSTRATIONS accompanying this awesome story. OH. MY. GOD. 😍😍😍 I think ALL authors should add illustrations like those in their novels. I really shouldn't expect anything less, though, given how breathtaking the covers were, both the UK and US editions.

Gabriel de Leon was a masterpiece. He should refine his storytelling skills a little bit 😝😝 but other than that...*chef's kiss*. He is a half-human, half-vampire member of a holy warrior order, the Silversaints, and his powers include a heightened sense of smell and hearing, super-strength, fast healing, and unwittingly cockblocking gay youths right when they're about to get it on. 😂😂 I think it's safe to say that Jay Kristoff is better off writing about 30-something year-old men, rather than 16-year-old girls. Am I right??

There are plenty of other really well-written characters, but there are some that are my absolute favorite. Aaron de Coste, the hater-turned-friend, teen-drama Dior, Astrid the hater-turned-lover, and Ashdrinker the dysfunctional, talking blade. I DID NOT like Aaron de Coste in the beginning. He was a complete asshole to Gabriel for a long time. They became besties, though, and Aaron went from dipship to tolerable to one of my favorite characters. The same exact thing happened with Dior, the teen with the interesting secret Gabe reluctantly had to protect who became another of his dearest friends.

As for Ashdrinker, she's a 'magicked' blade that can communicate with her wielder inside their head and since she's a little broken she only makes sense about half the time, which is what I loved most about her. She was a delight to read about, a badass weapon, and a pretty hilarious companion to Gabriel. I can't wait to read more about her. BUT no one else stood out for me more than Astrid Rennier. Astrid was a sisternovice living in the monastery Gabriel was taken to train as a silversaint. She was a sharp-tongued jerk that can't really help getting into trouble...and getting stoned. Also, she's a terrible influence on Gabe 😉😉 Their forbidden love for each other was so beautiful it left my eyes permanently heart-shaped now...😍😍 and my heart a bloody pulp...

I really think this book is worth reading, but brace yourselves for a looong story
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