Reviewed by Charles Remington for Readers' Favorite
A Subtle Agency, the first book in the Metaframe War series by Graeme Rodaughan, opens on a stormy night in ancient Egypt. A distraught Ahknaton determines to invoke the Divine Engine of Thoth in order to bring back to life his precious wife, Mekra. She has been killed by a scorpion bite, but in reviving her he also creates the first vampire. The novel’s fast-moving narrative then moves to the near future where, ruled by Cornelius Crane, the secret but powerful vampire nation aims to control the planet through their human subsidiary, Shadowstone. They are opposed by two covert organisations, both sworn to rid the world of vampires; the Order of Thoth and the Red Empire. However, none of this is known to the central character of the work, Anton Smith, who, while getting ready to meet his friends for a graduation night out, opens the door to Chloe Armitage and her muscular assistant, kicking off what will probably be the worst day of his life. Suddenly discovering that everything he thought he knew about his family was a lie, he is thrown into a world where highly trained humans fight almost invincible vampires for supremacy, into a wild, heart-stopping adventure which leads him to Gang Wu and his daughter Li who will train him to join the fight - a turbulent adventure that will culminate in a battle for his very existence.
A Subtle Agency is a fast-paced, polished thriller that introduces a complex web of organisations which vie for control of the planet, where vampires, powerful and almost invincible, along with their human employees, scheme to control politics, the press and public opinion while secretive opposing forces wage continuous war against them. But General Chloe Armitage, a favoured warrior of Cornelius Crane, King of the Vampires, has her own agenda and, in this first book of the Metaframe War, the scene is set for an ongoing dark and bloody conspiracy. Well-written and peopled with solid, believable characters, the narrative moves along at a brisk pace. There is plenty of blood and action as one would expect in this type of thriller, though maybe a bit too much information about the weapons and armaments used in the various fights and battles. Graeme Rodaughan has produced a worthy addition to the genre and I am sure the series will be a popular one. Fans of vampire yarns will not be disappointed.