Riddle of the Sands by Geoffrey Knight

Riddle of the Sands by Geoffrey Knight

Blurb:

The clock is ticking! Blackmailed by Jake’s nemesis ~ the vengeful Pierre Perron ~ Professor Fathom’s team of five horny gay adventurers is sent on a seemingly impossible mission to uncover the legendary Riddle of the Sands in order to save one of their own from a rare and deadly poison. But what is the Riddle of the Sands? Where are the long-lost clues and hidden maps that can lead to its whereabouts? Is it a myth, a mirage, or the greatest engineering feat in the history of ancient Egypt? From the icy plains of Siberia to the shadowy bathhouses of Cairo, from the scorching valley of the Nile to the heart of the Amazon jungle, readers join these hunks ~ treasure-hunter Jake, Brazilian biologist Eden, Texas cowboy Shane, art expert Luca, and quarterback Will ~ in a search that blends nonstop action and high-octane sex!

Review:

Unfortunately, this is a very misleading summary. Riddle of the Sands is actually a sequel, which is essential to knowing and understanding the characters and dynamics of this book, but nowhere is that actually stated. You MUST read the previous book to gain an understanding of the large cast and their purpose. I haven’t read the previous book unfortunately due to the misleading and erroneous book which doesn’t state anywhere this is actually a sequel and thus my enjoyment is proportionally less than perhaps others who might have read the first book. However, even so, for those looking for an empty but action filled story this might suit.

The book opens with a “professor” and Shane going to a Russian prison to talk to a prisoner about some mysterious key. While they are there, a dramatic and explosive prison break occurs and the heroes are running for their lives. From there, that thread is completely dropped because some guy named Jake has a friend who’s just been hit with a poison dart and to get the antidote, a bunch of men must come together and find a hidden pyramid that no one believes actually exists. Along the way are improbable and highly entertaining antics and some hot sex.

Sound ridiculous? It pretty much is but at the same time it still manages to be easy to read, fast, and engaging. The action starts from the beginning and simply doesn’t stop as more characters are introduced, shuffled around, and given more action. Globe trotting, this large cast is on the ultimate search for a hidden pyramid of an ignored gay son of an ancient priest but along the way there are the evil type henchmen, museum raiding, pits of snakes, mummified bodies, and rampant naked sex. The back of the book proclaims “HOT GAY TOMB RAIDERS” and certainly does its best to deliver on that premise. The plot takes the non-stop action of classic adventure movies and adds in a bunch of gorgeous gay men who have seemingly indiscriminate sex while chasing their answers.

While this is enjoyable, it is almost empty and forgettable. Part of the problem is that there is zero characterization. The book starts with action and that is the whole purpose. There is no characterization, no introduction to the various men, no explanation of who these men are, how they relate to each other and several plot points are simply dropped and ignored. Everyone is running around trying to save Sam, but the book never explains who exactly Sam is. Is he Jake’s lover? Adopted son? He seems to be a runaway Jake took in but there is no further explanation. Additionally, there is a rather large number of people in the book with no differentiation on who is more important than others and with no information about how they’re all working together, where they get the money to go globe trotting, if they have lives outside of this, if they have lovers, if they are lovers amongst themselves, and what each does. I’m guessing the story presumes the reader has all this information from the first book. So anyone just picking up this edition won’t get the benefit of knowing the characters and how they fit into a larger scheme.

For those that have read the first book or simply don’t especially care about characterization, the book provides non-stop action and entertainment, mixed with several naked scenes. The men are all gorgeous, gay, and hung like horses so they get naked quite a bit. They also run up against evil henchmen often as well as numerous obstacles from random people. This makes for an entertaining, lightning fast read that feels very movie like with the over the top antics and action. If you can suspend disbelief and just enjoy the ride, it’s a pretty fun and sexy book. There is a sense of repetitive prose and word choice that runs long in some places but the narrative jumps from person to person in a big cast so this keeps the pace moving quickly.

Without the background of knowing who these men are, the book definitely suffers and is ultimately forgettable. However, the entertainment factor is enough that I’ll likely read the first book so I can continue with the series. If the first book doesn’t offer any characterization, this is not a series I’d continue. It’s too chaotic and frantic without additional information. For those that have read the first book and are looking for a purely action filled thrill, definitely pick this up. Everyone else should start with the first book.

Get it HERE!

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10 thoughts on “Riddle of the Sands by Geoffrey Knight

  1. Good review, Kassa, of what sounds like a complicated book. I think I tried the first one a while back and couldn’t really get into it because of the shallowness of the characterization. I didn’t get past the first few pages, so all this that you’ve explained is news to me. It sounds like it might work better as a graphic novel than an all-text novel. Sometimes graphic novels or graphic novels in a series can support a very complicated and all-action plot like this really well.

    • Hey Val! I actually never heard of this series before picking up this one and having to do a google search to find the first book. I don’t particularly think that’s an intelligent thing to do on the author’s part, but ok.
      For a fun, empty romp – I enjoyed this. It’s not high literature but it’s engaging and delightful. I did get annoyed with the shallow characters because to me, they didn’t stand out. I didn’t care what each one did because the men themselves meant nothing to me. I didn’t know who they were, what they were doing, or why I should care. Thus having read the first book where this presumably occurs, the action could be more fun where you already know that.
      Sort of depends what you’re in the mood for. Once I could just ignore the problems, I laughed along with the ridiculous action and enjoyed myself. It’s not high art but it doesn’t have to be.

  2. I’ve got this one on my TBR shelf and I did enjoy the first one – but as you say, as no more than a sexy and sometimes silly romp. It’s fluff essentially. Fun fluff and there were some great action scenes and set pieces in the first one, but definitely forgettable.

    • This is a great book to enjoy an afternoon with some sexy guys and some wild action. I enjoyed reading it and likely will continue with the series, I just personally wanted to know who the hell the men were : D.

  3. kassa
    This is the second book in the series. I believe 6 or 7 books are planned and Knight introduced the characters in the first book – Fathoms Five: The Cross of Sins by devoting a separate chapter to each one. Realizing how difficult the characters and stories would be to follow I think that was a great strategy on his part. I really love this adventure series and can’t wait for the next book, The Curse of the Dragon.
    I was aware that this was the second book of the series when I checked out the titles on amazon so I had the advantage of reading them sequentially. I believe when I reviewed Riddle of the Sands I stated that it was essential to read the them in order. I’m sorry you didn’t enjoy Riddle of the Sands as much as you might have if you had read FF first, but I don’t think Knight made any pretensions that it was anything other than a sexy adventure romp with a bunch of hot guys. This is definitely not a romance and for someone like me who likes adventure stories pure and simple it was a wonderful change.

    • Yea I discovered when reading it what the first book was and my problem with the book is not that its an empty, action filled romp. I actually said several times that it’s fun and sexy.
      My main problem is that the book itself says NOWHERE that it’s a sequel. It doesn’t say “book two” anywhere on the cover, blurb, or on the website. So thus the story starts with an assumed amount of knowledge, which is inaccurate if they’re not going to state very clearly and easily that it’s a sequel.
      I think Knight made an error in not saying exactly how the books should be read because while it’s a fun romp, without the information on the characters, often times it makes no sense.

      • I’ll pass on your comment to Knight that he or his publisher should indicate clearly, if there’s a reprint of this book (and for all the others) that it’s a series and this is book 2 . The problem is that the new publisher, Cleis, didn’t publish the first book and I guess they didn’t want to profile a book released by another publisher.

        • Yea that’s probably it. I’ve had this problem with other authors who jump ship mid-series and then never mention previous books. That’s ok if your series is a bunch of stand alone books but when one book builds on the next – or maybe in this case, all the books build off the first- you can’t ignore that. At least in my lowly opinion.
          Thanks Wave!

  4. Riddle of the Sands – Volume Two
    Hi Kassa – thanks for the review, I’m Geoff. Jessewave let me know I should leave a comment and yes, everyone’s views are completely correct. I jumped ship from one publisher to another because the first book received basically zero publicity and marketing from my first publisher. I did everything myself to get the book noticed, and was lucky enough to have some people like Wave stumble upon it. But I soon realized that if I wanted the series to have any kind of future, then I needed a publisher with a lot more marketing clout and in the current climate someone with business savvy and strength. I think Cleis is the best gay publisher in the world today. Unfortunately Wav’s right again on the fact that one publisher doesn’t like to promote another publisher’s work. And it got very tricky at certain points. There were dozens of marketing meetings held as to how best to handle my book. It was a brave move for Cleis to take me on, but one that I think has paid off. For contractual reasons I won’t go into too much more detail, but please be assured that the decisions made were not made lightly. I hope my readers will understand.
    I hope you read the first book and find it as fun as the second. I know a lot of things will make a lot more sense to you. I hope the characters begin to feel a little more fleshed out as well. Yes it’s a light romp, but each individual story is a part of a much greater whole. With each book I peel more and more layers away from the characters to reveal their pasts, secrets, and motivations. These threads continue through the whole series like a big soap opera adventure. I have the first 8 books mapped out to the finest detail as well as a spin-off novel. What I set up in one book may be paid off two, three or four books down the track. I’ve designed the whole series as though the books are mysteries within mysteries. I want readers to stumble upon clues that ring a bell several books back so they have fun digging through their collection to find where they read the set up and what it was. (To say I’m inspired by the Harry Potter series is an understatement!) And yes, although they’re light and fun, each book has a serious underlying theme. The first book is about homosexuality and religion (can they co-exist?), the second is about father-gay son relationships, the third book which I’ve just finished is about being gay and proud of who you are in the workplace. My over-arching theme for the whole series is “it’s okay to be gay”. I hope a lot of young gay men and women out there discover that theme and find it liberating.
    Anyway, goodness, sorry about the long response. Hope that helps and I hope you like the first book. The third book – The Curse of the Dragon – it’s on its way!!!!
    Cheers,
    Geoff

    • Re: Riddle of the Sands – Volume Two
      Hi Geoff,
      Thank you for taking the time to comment and thank you for such a fun, entertaining book! I realize that publisher’s don’t want you to advertise another’s work, I just wished this had something small like “Fathom’s Five – Book Two” somewhere so without even linking to a previous book, readers can know that these aren’t stand alone treats.
      It’s really a tribute to the entertainment factor that I could let go of the confusion of who -were- all these random men and just indulge in the action as it unfolded. Most books I would have given up on. I will be going back to read the first one because I am excited to read the third, I just want to know who everyone is.
      Thank you again for the clarification and the preview of what to look forward to. Congratulations on publishing with Cleis and I wish you much success. Thankfully I have vol. one to read while awaiting the next edition. 😀

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