Narrated by Damian Lynch and coming in at over twenty-seven hours, Empire of the Vampire by Jay Kristoff was one of my most anticipated audiobooks, and Kristoff delivered a dark, gritty, brilliant tale.
by Jay Kristoff
Series: Empire of the Vampire #1
Narrator: Damian Lynch
Length: 27 hours and 10 minutes
Purchase*: Amazon | Audible *affiliate
Narration: 4.5 cups Speed: 1.3x
Twenty-seven years have passed since the last sunrise, and for almost three decades, the creatures of the night have walked the day without fear. Once, humanity fought bravely against the coldblood legions, but now, we exist only in a few scattered settlements—tiny sparks of light in a growing sea of darkness.
Gabriel de León is the last of the Silversaints, a holy order dedicated to defending realm and church, now utterly destroyed. Imprisoned for the murder of the vampiric king, Gabriel is charged with telling the story of his life.
His tale spans years, from his youth in the monastery of San Michel, to the forbidden love that spelled his undoing, and the betrayal that saw his order annihilated. Most importantly, Gabriel will tell of his discovery of the Grail—the legendary cup prophesied to bring an end to the eternal night.
But the Grail was no simple chalice; it was a smart-mouthed teenage urchin named Dior. Their journey with a band of unlikely allies would see Dior and Gabriel forge an unbreakable bond, and set the broken paragon on a road to redemption.
But now, the Grail is shattered. And with the cup of the Savior destroyed and the last Silversaint awaiting execution, what can bring an end to this unholy empire?
Empire of the Vampire begins twenty-seven years after the last sunrise and is just the beginning of this saga by the same name. We meet Gabriel de León who is currently imprisoned for the murder of the vampire king. The new ruler once an account of his life and orders his story chronicled before his execution. The writer tells him to start from the beginning and so we travel back in time to his youth before meeting him again in his mid-thirties in the second part and follow until the fall of the Silversaints. In between events/chapters, we find ourselves back in the dungeon as the writer demands explanation. I must admit, I enjoyed their interactions.
I think this is Kristoff’s most brilliant work to date. The audiobook is twenty-seven hours and the book almost 900 pages, complete with black and white illustrations. I pre-ordered the hardcover edition and the audiobook. I am already planning to re-listen as I read along.
A dark and gritty fantasy with rich characters and dangerous times. We learn of the Grail—the legendary cup prophesied to bring an end to the eternal night. Only the grail isn’t a physical object but a street urchin named Dior. We witness Gabriel’s pledge to the church and his brothers in arms to his personal struggles from addiction to faith.
While this is a vampire story, Kristoff delivers so much more. This story will appeal to a broad adult audience. Think Witcher saga and Name of the Wind as examples. It is a struggle against good and evil, man’s’ inner turmoil and sacrifices, but also one of faith, love, and loss. You’ll get gory battle scenes, snarky banter, romance, friendship, and heartbreak. The story was otherworldly, with a realistic vibe that made both the story and characters feel raw and genuine. From his blade, Ashdrinker to the secondary characters who become his traveling companions, I found myself fully immersed in the tale.
Kristoff does a brilliant job of fleshing out his characters and world, all while telling an elaborate story that pulls the listener in and holds them captive. He had me emotionally invested with potent feelings towards these characters. I loved some and loathed others with a vengeance. I laughed, wept, cringed, became angry, cheered, and desperately wanted more.
Damian Lynch narrates the tale and gave voice to these characters from personalities to their wide range of emotions. His inflections enhanced the telling and brought the story to life.
Fans of fantasy tales like The Witcher, Name of the Wind and Interview with a Vampire will enjoy slipping into this brilliant story. Brave Mr. Kristoff, may I have another?
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