Audiobook Review: The Rift Walker by Clay and Susan Griffith

25 03 2013

The Rift Walker by Clay and Susan Griffith (Vampire Empire, Book 2)

Read by James Marsters

Buzzy Multimedia

Length: 13 Hrs 35 Min

Genre: Fantasy Adventure

Quick Thoughts: The Rift Walker is a grand adventure so fun and fast you almost forget about the depths and detail that the authors built into the world. It not just a worthy follow-up to the first novel, but an exponential expansion of what made that novel work. The Rift Walker should please fans of work as diverse as Game of Thrones and The Scarlet Pimpernel or just anyone who loves a strong Princess and the masked hero at her side.

Grade: A

Today, I want to talk about a specific literary type that has been increasingly driving me crazy and that is the douchebag. It seems every book nowadays has to have a douchebag in it. Now, for those of you who aren’t as accomplished in the vagaries of literary terminology, a douchebag is a character that is on the same side as our hero, tends to be skilled and useful and has a great potential to become a true leader, yet ruins it all by acting like a complete assnozzle. This person often has earned the respect of a key group, yet manages put all that respect in jeopardy by acting like a pretentious shitbird. This person is typically, but not always, a male character of an adult level who instead of taking valuable information provided by someone who was placed in a specific situation to gain such information chooses not to utilize or believe it because it comes from someone who they just can’t find it in their heart to believe because they are a women, or a teenager, or someone from a lower class or differing ethnicity, but in reality it’s simply because it conflicts with their own beliefs and may prevent them from taking an action, no matter how potentially disastrous, that they have already decided to take. Basically, they are a condescending bigoted asshat wasting their potential because their minds are just too small to consider anyone else’s opinion valuable particularly by those who they have simply decided are unworthy for arbitrary reasons. I hate douchebags. I seethe with a righteous anger every time they make their totally despicable bombastic and ultimately stupid pronouncements. What’s worse is, often times, the douchebag has the potential to redeem themselves, but then continue in their own douchebaggy ways, and when this way leads to disaster for them, they are shocked. They are amazed that this person they discounted doesn’t wilt before them, giving into their bullying ways. What makes it worse is, this person could have everything, if they just treated people with a bit of respect, and when they don’t they blame it on the person they bullies, badgered mistreated and overlooked. This is why, often when the truly evil character gives it to the douchebag, you sort of end up cheering for the bad guy, because everyone likes to see the douchebag get got.

The Rift Walker is the follow up to the Audie nominated The Greyfriar, the first book of the Vampire Empire trilogy. As The Rift Walker begins, Princess Adele, still longing for The Greyfriar, is set to marry Senator Clark to cement the alliance between Equatoria and America for the upcoming war with the Vampires of the British clans. Clarke, who is, well, a bit of an arrogant jerk, is frustrated with her delays, and pushes for a quick wedding. When The Greyfriar learns Vampires are planning to attack the wedding, he must act thus setting off more potential for adventure, and daring do. The Rift Walker is another rip roaring action packed novel that blends modern day fantasy with the classics, creating one of the grandest adventure tales today. Honestly, The Rift Walker is just pure fun. Sure, there’s drama and intrigue and a little bit of that kissy kissy romance stuff and I often found myself frustrated by character’s actions or enraged at another shocking betrayal, but the underlining feel of the entire novel is fun. As I followed The Greyfriar and Adele on their adventures, I couldn’t help but reminisce on those days watching movies staring actors like Errol Flynn where our heroes threw themselves into every adventure, but with just a bit of style that you don’t seem to find anymore. Add to that political maneuverings like a Game of Thrones-Lite, yet still full of brutality and twisted evil. The Rift Walker moved us away from the savagery of the Vampire Courts and showed us that the remnants of humanity can have just as much animalistic brutality. The action took us from the cities of Equatoria to the mountains of Africa, with individual daring, large scaled epic battles and unleashed magic galore.  We met new clans of both humans and Vampires expanding the already fascinating world the Griffiths had created. If you can’t tell, I absolutely loved listening to this audiobook. There were moments I simply wanted to cheer as if I was in a packed movie house, forgetting I was simply an audience of one. One of the things I love is how it turns the whole masked hero and damsel in distress trope on its head, even poking fun at it at times. Adele does just as much rescuing as her supposed champion, and is full of a power even greater than any man within these pages. She is the true hero of this tale, and any man who dismisses her, does it at his own peril. The Rift Walker is a grand adventure so fun and fast you almost forget about the depths and detail that the authors built into the world. It not just a worthy follow-up to the first novel, but an exponential expansion of what made that novel work. The Rift Walker should please fans of work as diverse as Game of Thrones and The Scarlet Pimpernel or just anyone who loves a strong Princess and the masked hero at her side.

There is only one thing that is keeping me from grabbing the print version of the third book of this series, The Kingermakers, which is currently available in print and that’s the excellent narration of James Marsters. Really people, I want to know what happens next, but I must wait until the tale is in the more than capable hands of Marsters. Marsters makes the action of this novel simply leap off the page, and right into my brain. He has a way of bringing the story alive, making me feel as if I was flying through the air with the vampires, or slogging my way through the dangerous mountain overpasses with the human armies. One of the things I find interesting about this world is how all the traditional ethnic understanding is thrown for a loop. Due to the migration after the Great Killing, where the great kingdoms of humanity moved into the tropical regions to escape the vampires, Equatoria becomes a hodgepodge of ethnic groups, of European, African, Middle Eastern and South Asian descents. This gives Marsters a bit of freedom and creativity in the blending of accents and he makes great use of it. Each locale is given its own bit of flavor, with Indian, Middle Eastern and African tilts as well as the traditional European standards. Marsters creates so much out of the canvas the author’s provide, creating a beautiful and unique twist to this fantasy world. His true gift is in his pacing, creating a cinematic feel for this story. The Rift Walker is a wonderful production, a great blending of content and performance and definitely one of my top listens of this year.

Note: Thanks to Buzzy Multimedia for providing me with a copy of this title for review.

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5 responses

25 03 2013
Felicia S. (@thegeekyblogger)

I am on the fence about trying this series. I think I would like it but like you I am kind of tired of the douchebag. I get they exist but do they have to exist in every book I read? 🙂

25 03 2013
Dave Thompson

Man, I am so confused about the douchebag in question. I am pretty sure I know who it is. Are you saying he gets his just desserts, or that he goes against type?

Honestly, though – that was one of the issues I had with the first book. The characters were so flat – the bad guys (and the douchebags) had no redeeming qualities about them, and the good guys didn’t interest me that much. I enjoyed the world and Marsters reading, but the rest of it just frustrated me.

25 03 2013
theguildedearlobe

Here’s the thing about the douchebag, often it’s really gratifying when they get their comeuppance, but lately there has been some trend where they either gain some level of understanding or redemption (not really applicable yet to this series.) It’s like, why give me all this frustration, without that moment when they are totally schooled?

Dave, I try to be a bit vague when discussing specific douchebags, such a character exist in my opinion in this series, but there are a few peripheral characters that may also earn the label, so I leave it up to the individual to choose the douchebag of their loathing. I can sort of see your problem with the characters. Some do come off as a bit caricature-ish, yet it’s something I see on reflection, while I am amidst the drama it never really bothers me.

25 03 2013
Christina (A Reader of Fictions)

Love your commentary on douchebags in fiction. This has been at the forefront of my brain today, because I had someone arguing with me on Goodreads about my interpretation of a character. I deemed him a sexist asshat with as much respect for women as James Bond has, and this other person felt that I was wrong. Well, okay. Fine. Others can think that, but I will continue to think he’s an ass, and I will seethe, just like you do.

I suspect he’ll get his comeuppance eventually or learn how not to be a douchebag, but it’s not worth it to me to find out.

Anyway, I know I’m off topic of the actual book here, but I’ve not read the first, and based on the A, it’s probably worth checking out, so I don’t want to spoiler myself for anything. 🙂

26 03 2013
theguildedearlobe

I just seem to have a disdain for the “oh, but she’s just a fragile girl, whose emotions are clouding her judgement” character whether in real life or in books.

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