First of all James Marsters is, as always, excellent. Let me get that out of the way now before I start in on this one. I have never been disappointed by his readings, and this book is no exception.
Now then. Was this a great book? No, it was not. It was entertaining, assuredly. The world is pretty well thought out, though it felt like the steampunk theme had been shoe-horned in on a story that would have been fine without it, and didn't really gain anything by its inclusion. Does the Greyfriar wear a mask? Yes. Also, he wears goggles. Because you see, it's a steampunk book.
Don't get me wrong, Im fine with the genre, I just didn't feel like this particular story had any reason to -be- steampunk. There isn't enough history to explain why there is steampunk, but I guess that isn't really important.
The story is standard adventure fare, with a vampire twist. The 'shocking secret' is neither shocking nor a secret, but i'm not sure it was meant to be. Somehow I doubt it.
I don't know that I will read or listen to the sequel. It was entertaining, but there are a lot better books to be had. However, if you are a big fan of vampires, alternate history, steampunk, or oldschool adventure books, you will probably like The Greyfriar. If nothing else, the portrayal of vampire culture and mindset was certainly interesting.
While I believe that David Drake read the Aubrey-Maturin books by Patrick O'brian, I'm not sure he understood what about character interaction between Jack Aubrey and Stephen Maturin made the books so great.
It's clear that he has aped the style, as was his intention, and as long as you aren't expecting Aubrey-in-space, then this series is perfectly fine. It's entertaining, written well enough that I'm not cringing throughout, and I enjoyed it.
I wish he hadn't mentioned anything about O'Brian's series, because it's difficult not to contrast the two now, but the RCN books stand on their own well enough.
Unlike everyone else who has listened to this series I didn't have a problem with the narrator.
If you are looking for a better-than-average series (unlike this very average one) in a similar vein, the Honor Harrington series by David Weber is far superior, and can also be found here on Audible. Alternatively, if you haven't yet, you should certainly listen to the Aubrey-Maturin books, which can also be found on Audible.
This book is just as disturbing as you think it is. It's also a good story, and the beginning of what could be a good series.
... If you can stomach having it read to you by someone who sounds like Robert Stack of "Unsolved Mysteries." The narrator would be perfect for a hard-boiled detective book, or some kind of adventure/war story, but his choppy, monotone narration grates the whole way through this book, along with his strange EMPHASIS of CERTAIN WORDS for no apparent REASON. This book needed a quiet, expressive voice to read it, somebody who could have pulled off a more "believable" serial killer.
Still, the book was worth it for the story, if nothing else.
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