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The Empire of Fear [Paperback]

Brian Stableford
3.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (2 customer reviews)

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Book Description

June 14 1991
A fantasy about the rise of the vampires throughout history, beginning in 17th century London, and ending in America in the 1980s. A combination of science fiction, horror, adventure and fantasy. By the same author as "The Walking Dead", and the six-volume "Halycon Drift" series.

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From Publishers Weekly

The year is 1623. Attila the Hun is a vampire and so are Richard the Lionhearted and the Pope. Such is the alarming premise of this richly detailed "alternative history" in which the era ia dominated by a minority race of vampires. Edmund Cordery, scientist and courtier to the king, has long sought the means by which vampires are made (a bite on the neck is not the answer) and by which they can be destroyed. When he murders Richard's vampire mistress with his own plague-tainted blood, he is put to death for treason, and his son, Noell, must flee England for his life. Continuing his father's detective work, Noell journeys to the African kingdom of Adamawara where the first vampires are believed to have evolved thousands of years before. There, along with loyal monk Quintus, the pirate Langoisse and his mistress Leilah, Noell must endure hardship, warfare and pestilence in his continuing quest for the secrets of immortality. This latest effort by British scientist, novelist and nonfiction writer Stableford ( The Walking Shadow ; Future Man ) falls somewhere between horror novel and historical saga; while it does not quite deliver the frissons of a conventional horror tale, its informed speculation, the result of Stableford's wide-ranging research, is sure to fascinate history buffs--alternative and otherwise.
Copyright 1991 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

From Library Journal

In this alternative history, most 17th-century nations are ruled by vampires. Mortals can become vampires, but the few selected are rendered sterile. Though not immortal, they live for many centuries. Such historic figures as Richard Lion-Heart and Attila owe their power to this conversion. Impervious to pain and disease, they rule the human majority harshly. Scholars like Harry Percy and Francis Bacon desperately seek, by science or magic, to shake off their yoke. Legends of vampirism's African origin send protagonist Noell Cordery there on a ghastly fact-finding safari. With a crew of native sorcerers and pirate adventurers, Cordery gets more--and less--than he anticipated. Though bogged down occasionally by excess verbiage, this is a satisfying adventure spanning three continents and 300 years, and a thoughtful look at the costs and rewards of being human.
- Lenore Hart, Machipongo, Va.
Copyright 1991 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

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Most helpful customer reviews
Format:Paperback
"Empire of Fear" defies the expectations created by the sub-title ("An epic vampire novel") and its ominous cover art . . . the book seems to promise a titanic, action-packed battle between humans and vampires, but takes a decidedly different, yet interesting tack.
Brian Stableford's novel opens conventionally, even if operating under a wonderfully unique premise. The world is ruled by vampires -- Attila the Hun and Charlamagne are both vampires who have conquered Western Europe, and their henchmen, including Richard Lionheart, Vlad the Impaler (no great shock, there), and even Pope Alexander are also vampires. Africa is also conquered by vampires, although the Muslims have been resisting the vampiric hordes. The novel's first chapter, set in London, shows the world in uneasy balance, with the vampire aristocracy ruling over a generally pacified yet often unruly human population.
That is, until scientist, mechanician, and handsomest man in England, Edmund Cordery, strikes a blow for humans in a devious, vicious manner. His son, Noell, takes up the standard, but instead of leading a mighty army, Noell gets involved in a journey of scientific discovery into the causes of vampirism. Using what may be the world's first microscope, Noell spends much of the book peering through its lenses and speculating on scientific theory.
Surprisingly, for a book that has vampires, pirates, seiges, and bizarre religious rites, the book is rather flat. Stableford is clearly more interested in the ideas presented by vampirism than with writing a hair-raising Gothic horror novel or a gripping page-turner, and his writing cannot be said to "crackle" or "leap from the page" -- even his dueling scenes are written in an expository, rote prose.
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Format:Paperback
Brian Stableford's "Empire of Fear" offers up one of the most intriguing premises for alternate history -- much of the world is run by aristocratic vampires. Charlamagne, Attila the Hun, Richard Lionheart, Vlad the Impaler (okay, that one isn't exactly a stretch), and Pope Alexander are all vampires, and they seek to maintain their power through a combination of fear, superstition, and benign condescension toward their mortal subjects.
For many authors, this premise would lead to a titanic battle for the future of the world -- man versus vampire, with a noble commoner taking down the vampiric empire. Indeed, Stableford starts out with this premise, as Edmund Cordery, scientist, lover to vampire women, and generally considered the handsomest man in England, strikes a vicous blow at the vampires. His son, Noell, takes up the cause from his fallen father, and the first few chapters are fairly action-packed as young Cordery meets pirates, dodges arrest attempts, and flees from the wrath of the vampires.
Soon, however, the book begins to drag as Noell pursues the scientific causes of vampirism using an ingenious invention, the microscope. Noell and his new comrades journey to Africa, home of the world's first vampires. Noell continues his research, and eventually he and his comrades journey to the fabled vampire Eden, the mystical land of Adamawara. Through a journey of great torment that seems to go on forever, Noell and (most of) his comrades arrive at Adamawara, and their quest for the secrets of the vampires continues.
Stableford writes in a clear style that befits the scientific pursuits of Noell and his father . . . but it makes for a tedious work of fiction, particularly when Noell is stricken with a mysterious disease in Adamawara.
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)
Amazon.com: 3.4 out of 5 stars  8 reviews
13 of 13 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Not suave geeks in cloaks Oct. 18 2000
By pinlighter - Published on Amazon.com
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The Empire Of Fear is an alternate-history vampire novel. But it is science fiction rather than fantasy; these vampires are indeed immortal, near-invunerable, and drink blood, but they are real, not supernatural, and, rather than hiding in the shadows, they rule.
In this world, like and yet unlike our own, Stableford traces the ancient struggle between doctrinal absolutism and free enquiry, superstition and science, and defeats the ancient empire of fear in the only way it can ever be defeated - through knowledge.
**Health warning**.
This book will disappoint fans of Anne Rice. Readers looking for suave geeks in cloaks should go elsewhere.
It is a book of ideas, not a mess of gothic cliche. Buy it and read it only if you want to learn something true, real, and precious about the nature of knowledge and ignorance, of power and fear. .
5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Intriguing Premise -- Middle Section Drags; no "Salem's Lot" June 24 2004
By Scott Schiefelbein - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback
"Empire of Fear" defies the expectations created by the sub-title ("An epic vampire novel") and its ominous cover art . . . the book seems to promise a titanic, action-packed battle between humans and vampires, but takes a decidedly different, yet interesting tack.
Brian Stableford's novel opens conventionally, even if operating under a wonderfully unique premise. The world is ruled by vampires -- Attila the Hun and Charlamagne are both vampires who have conquered Western Europe, and their henchmen, including Richard Lionheart, Vlad the Impaler (no great shock, there), and even Pope Alexander are also vampires. Africa is also conquered by vampires, although the Muslims have been resisting the vampiric hordes. The novel's first chapter, set in London, shows the world in uneasy balance, with the vampire aristocracy ruling over a generally pacified yet often unruly human population.
That is, until scientist, mechanician, and handsomest man in England, Edmund Cordery, strikes a blow for humans in a devious, vicious manner. His son, Noell, takes up the standard, but instead of leading a mighty army, Noell gets involved in a journey of scientific discovery into the causes of vampirism. Using what may be the world's first microscope, Noell spends much of the book peering through its lenses and speculating on scientific theory.
Surprisingly, for a book that has vampires, pirates, seiges, and bizarre religious rites, the book is rather flat. Stableford is clearly more interested in the ideas presented by vampirism than with writing a hair-raising Gothic horror novel or a gripping page-turner, and his writing cannot be said to "crackle" or "leap from the page" -- even his dueling scenes are written in an expository, rote prose. Indeed, the largest section of the book is focused on Noell's time in Africa, where he and his comrades have journeyed to find the legendary birthplace of vampirism. This section is rather tedious, if only because the characters are so exhausted, diseased, and despairing about their circumstances.
Ultimately, the final section of the book is set in the modern age, and we meet one of the characters from earlier in the book. Stableford concludes his novel with a very touching, very thoughtful scene involving a vampire and a crippled boy with an unusual link to one of Stableford's heroes.
If you're looking for an eerie vampire thriller, pick up King's "'Salem's Lot," or some other novel. "Empire of Fear" is not your standard beach fare or for staying up late at night to get a good dose of the heeby-jeebies . . . it is a careful, well-researched work regarding the quest for knowledge and a rumination on mortality.
5 of 6 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars This book was a captivating read. Dec 6 1999
By The Goddess of Death - Published on Amazon.com
I found that The Empire of Fear had a new, unique perspective on vampires. It was original, and very believable. I find the writing much more mature and interesting than that of Anne Rice. It's dark, weird, and all together fascinating.
5.0 out of 5 stars Rereading this book after a couple of decades and enjoying it more than ever. Jan. 3 2014
By Qadriya - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback
I really enjoyed this book the first time around, then went off to college and haven't read much fiction since, decided to revisit this old friend and am loving it!
3.0 out of 5 stars Who are the Vampires? May 22 2013
By M. Asher - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Hardcover
The defining characteristic of vampires is that they suck other people's blood, not that they are immortal - since they can be killed, this is dubious anyway. Sucking other people's blood is wrong, therefore vampires must be the 'bad guys'. Blood-sucking is obviously a metaphor for the way of life in industrial civilization - a way of life based on the exploitation of others - ie blood-sucking. In fact vampires first appear in English in the early 1700s - around the beginning of the industrial era: even then it was realized in some quarters that the vampire figure was a metaphor for the corruption in industrial society. If vampires are like humans, in that there are good ones and bad ones, or if they don't suck blood, then they aren't really vampires, just people who live a long time. And if they aren't really vampires, why do we need them in the story at all? I couldn't get on with this book, because it was never clear to me who the vampires were meant to represent, and if they weren't meant to represent anybody - if they were meant to be 'just vampires', what was the point? Maybe I've got this wrong and if so someone will correct me, but I'm not keen on books that 'explain away' vampirism as a scientific problem - you might call this the 'behaviourist' theory of vampires - that blood-sucking is a kind of illness that can be treated with the right medicine. Vampirism is an ethical problem, not a biological one (is the greed of corporate man a physical characteristic?) I don't think that Stableford's book is thoughtful enough - but maybe that's just me. I didn't find that the middle section dragged, but I was disappointed with the final section.
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