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Kim Knox

REVIEW:  Agamemnon Frost and the Crown of Towers by Kim Knox

REVIEW: Agamemnon Frost and the Crown of Towers by Kim...

Guest review from Mary Kate.

Dear Ms. Knox:

I have to say – once again you have delivered an absolutely toe-curling, delicious mystery wrapped in romance. I fell in love with Frost and Mason all over again! In this continuation of their story, we find Mason in a steampunk version of 1800s England wracking himself with guilt and self-sacrifice over Agamemnon Frost – his friend, mentor, fellow transfigured, and the man he is head over heels in love with. Unfortunately, not only is Frost engaged to the lovely, damaged Theodora, but they’re embroiled in a war against the Martians, who are trying to take over the world through superior technology and mind control.

Agamemnon Frost and the Crown of Towers Kim KNoxThe first thing that really struck me about this installment was the progression of the relationship between the two main characters. It went from zero to steamy in a hundred. Not only were there a few passages that melted my computer screen and fogged up my glasses (in a good way, I promise), but the underlying tenderness between the pair was maintained. This wasn’t simply a hit it and quit it gay erotica, it was romance in the truest sense of the word. Despite their differing stations and the complexity of their working relationship, the genuine caring and love between the two was evident in every word written. It felt like a behind-the-curtain peek into the foundation of a legendary love story. My one very minor quibble with the relationship aspect was that there wasn’t enough sex. Oh, I know, more sex might have been over-indulging in a good thing, but what there was pegged my delectable meter off the charts.

The main plot was good – the story moved at a good pace without bogging down. The mystery was juicy enough to keep me turning the pages, though I did get lost every now and then in the more technical details. It felt as though some of those were glossed when they could/should have been explained just a little bit more. Whenever Mason and Frost discussed the people who had been “hollowed out,” because I had no real comprehension of the process, I could only imagine an evil Martian with a giant straw, hollowing out humans the same way we hollow out eggs during springtime.

 

The ending seemed a little abrupt, and while it wasn’t too pat, I wanted to see a bit more in the way of dialog with Pandarus. Every great story tends to have the villain making a mustache-twirling speech at the end, while cackling madly. Unfortunately, for as big an evil as Pandarus was made out to be, he was surprisingly ineffectual. It seemed as though the conclusion focused much more on the relationship aspect of the story and much less on the mystery / overall plot. A deux ex machina was employed which, despite phenomenal storytelling, left me feeling just a little bit cheated – though not cheated enough that I put the book down. In the grand scheme of things, it was a small blip on the radar. I was reading the book for Mason and Frost, mainly, with the plot secondary. I’m sorry, I admit it. My name is Mary Kate and I’m a big fan of a well-written love story.

 

There was one other small little thing you carried through from Hollow Ships to hint about in Crown of Towers that made me oddly happy. In Hollow Ships, Mason sees a desolate landscape that, to him, represents the end of the world – what happens if Pandarus isn’t stopped. In this book, Mason and Frost stand together and look out at a very similar landscape that seems to represent the Martian homeworld – also known as what could possibly happen to Earth. To me, it was a lovely bit of symbolism. In the first, Mason is alone. In the second, Frost and Mason are standing together. It’s a stunning and powerful visual, all by itself.

 

Thank you for writing such a wonderful series, filled with pride and pitfalls, relationships that aren’t always easy, and a stunning mystery! B

 

Mary Kate

 

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REVIEW:  Agamemnon Frost and the Hollow Ships by Kim Knox

REVIEW: Agamemnon Frost and the Hollow Ships by Kim Knox

Agamemnon Frost and the Hollow Ships

Dear Ms. Knox:

I’ll admit to being a touch confused and quite a bit thrown when I first started this latest tale in Agamemnon Frost’s steampunk world as told from the viewpoint of his sidekick, Mason. The deluge of unfamiliar phrases and concepts was, at first, amazingly disconcerting. As the novella progressed, however, everything became much clearer thanks to tight storytelling and compelling plot. Agamemnon Frost is an automata – half-human, half-machine – member of British society in 1819 Liverpool, England. Along with his valet, newly made automata, Mason, Frost must forward his work with Station X, a secret British organization, to thwart an impending Martian invasion and save the Empire. Their tasks are made more difficult, however, by the fact that the automata are Martian inventions, ensuring that they must not only fight the Martians, but their forbidden desire for each other.

While a wonderful work of science fiction, the erotic romance aspect shines through with an organic, arousing simplicity. Neither genre overwhelms the other; in fact, they complement each other perfectly. Both are developed in parallel paths that intersect, allowing each to shine. The sexual tension that develops between Frost and Mason is organic, blended beautifully with a hint of darkness and a touch of slightly tongue in cheek dominance and submission. Mason is, by reason of his position as Frost’s valet and his place in the Martian hierarchy, forced to be submissive to Frost in public – yet the submission doesn’t necessarily carry through to all of their interactions. Quite a bit is left to the reader’s imagination, which makes for an absolutely delicious read.

There’s a strong resonance with Sir Arthur Conan Doyle’s iconic Sherlock Holmes throughout the work, yet you put your own touches on the world, making it distinct and unique. One of the themes that jumped out at me quite a bit was your use of man versus environment. Mason, the more newly made automata, struggles greatly with the soot, decay and diminished air quality of an industrial area, frequently finding solace in the clean air contraptions built for the automata’s comfort. His gifts of enhanced strength, hearing and instincts are tempered by the irritation of little things we take for granted in everyday life – dust, for example. I don’t know about you, but dust merely makes me sneeze. To Mason, each piece of dust felt like razors ripping at his skin and throat.

Another thing that caught my attention was the fact that this wasn’t the ordinary steampunk. Other steampunk novels I’ve read tend to focus on the use of machinery to enhance humanity, either for better or worse. This one, however, posited the use of machinery by and from an alien context. The concept of man versus his alien self is both intriguing and disturbing – though disquieting in a good way. I never expected the story to be as thought provoking as it was, and I loved every second of it. Of course, I dare say I’m going to have a few nightmares about the things described, but that’s a small price to pay for such a wickedly written story. The descriptions of evil acts were so subtle that it didn’t even hit me until paragraphs later that they were utterly horrendous and monstrous. It’s not that they were candy coated, though; it was more that their implications were so subtle that it took the cumulative to bring it all in perspective.

I thoroughly enjoyed the fact that you tease the reader with the story, drawing it out into a page-turner with a mostly satisfying ending. It’s clear this isn’t the beginning of Agamemnon’s tale and, while that was an irritant that occasionally brought me out of the story; it wasn’t enough to have me putting it aside.

Thank you for an excellent read! B+

Mary Kate

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