I picked up Clockwork Angels by Kevin J. Anderson as part of the last StoryBundle (if you haven’t check that out yet – do!). Kevin J. Anderson isn’t an author that I’ve read or come across before but whilst browsing the StoryBundle Darren had pointed out to me that it was on his to read list. Since we have super similar tastes after purchasing this bundle I decided I would dive right into this one.
This book was written in quite a unique way, infact to quote the synopsis:
A remarkable collaboration that is unprecedented in its scope and realization, this exquisitely wrought novel represents an artistic project between the bestselling science fiction author Kevin J. Anderson and the multiplatinum rock band Rush. The newest album by Rush, Clockwork Angels, sets forth a story in Neil Peart’s lyrics that has been expanded by him and Anderson into this epic novel.
That’s right it’s inspired by and follows the lyrics of a rock album. This particular part I was all kinds of skeptical and excited about at the time time. So far, I haven’t listened to the album but lyrics are at the beginning of each chapter and they fit really well. It doesn’t feel like it’s forced together. It’s a song that tells a story and this novel simple elaborated upon that story. It actually works well to my relief and I was pleasantly surprised.
So lets get onto the actual book, the story, the meat of it all.
The world we are plunged into is a world of steampunk and alchemy, with pirates, carnivals and lost cities to boot. Exciting times one might imagine, except nothing has really changed in 200 years. Everything runs like clockwork. No crime, nothing unexpected, no blimp on the map of life, no disease and no nastiness whatsoever actually. All thanks to the Watchmaker who has watched over and ruled the empire, making sure everyone has a place in the world, a plan and they have everything they need. They all have a true love, a given career, a house and food. They’re secure and safe from crime and illness. What more could anyone ask for? “The Stability” one calls it.
Enter our protagonist Owen Hardy an apple farmer who is oh so close to his 17th birthday and therefore becoming an adult. He knows on his birthday he will receive a letter from the Watchmaker himself wishing him happiness, he will take over managing the orchid from his father and in a few more months when his true love also turns 17, they will get engaged with the Watchmakers approval.
The problem is that Owen Hardy longs to visit Crown City, the capital and see the famed Clockwork Angels for himself but leaving your village is forbidden and anyway, that’s not the Watchmakers plan for him.
As a result of his girlfriend not showing up meet him at midnight (also forbidden), Owen ends up making a snap decision to stow away on a Steamliner headed for Crown City.
Having left all he knows behind and subsequently tearing himself away from the life the Watchmaker has planned for him, he finds himself among pirates and carnies – the barely tolerated outcasts of society – who follow their own paths. Unfortunately for Owen this mean seeing and facing fears, dangers and hurt he never knew could exist and life around him crumbles.
And yet he is torn between feeling real emotions – even if they’re negative and the safety of The Stability.
At it’s heart Clockwork Angels is a coming of age story with a little revolutionary spirit thrown in. You go through all the emotions, confusion and anger with Owen. As well as seeing a little perspective from the outside influences upon him.
The Watchmaker is the other main character in this journey who is a sort of lovable rogue with a power complex. It’s clear that his heart is in the right place but at times it’s blindingly obvious that he’s lost a screw or two along the way. He’s eccentric in an almost creepy way and his OCD is way out of control. And yet… one can sympathise with him.
It’s a story less about good vs evil and more about order vs chaos, and how good and evil are a matter of perspective.
There is adventure here, some fights and alchemy but this is more of about a journey, one that makes you think and perhaps even grow with Mr. Hardy.
Fantasy is my favourite genre to read but this isn’t too heavy on the fantasy or the steampunk aspect for that matter so really this book has a very wide appeal. Anyone can enjoy it without knowing too much about those genres.
Definitely worth a read.
Author Website: http://kjablog.com
Publisher: WordFire Press
Publication Date: 2 Oct 2013
Genre(s): Fantasy, Steampunk, Adventure
Purchased From: StoryBundle (from Truly Epic Fantasy Bundle)