Clockwork Dynasty by Daniel H. Wilson
June inherits a ancient artifact being hunted by avtomat. Peter, an avtomat on his own mission to fulfill his soul’s purpose, protects and guides June as she reanimates the leader of the avtomats.
My Rating: 4 stars
This novel has one major flaw for me. Pacing. Three times, I put this book down. Once to read a book series about werewolves (to be reviewed later), a second time to read another book I picked up at random, and a third time to read a two book series. This novel did not have the high action, glued to the page feel that I typically look for.
I was also not thrilled by the world. I admit I picked this book up based on the cover. I was looking for a steam-punk, cogs and wheels, grimy feel. The book has some of that, but it lacks the punk: the grimy, steam driven, pushing the folds of acceptable feel. The core of the technology is alien-based magic that powers the mechanics of the robots. The 1700’s timeline is less about the industrial movement and focuses on the science and soldiering (more Mary Shelly salons than Newcome’s engine or Fulton’s Folly). It wasn’t the world I wanted when I picked up the story.
The slow pace is out-weighed by interesting characters. This book follows two timelines (present and 1700-1950’s) towards the resolution of a plot that has been in play since long before either of the two plot lines. (3000 B.C.) Peter, who is reborn in 1709 struggles to find his identity within the dictates of his soul’s purpose, truth/justice. His understanding of truth and justice evolves in the timeline of 1700-1950’s. His friends and fellow avtomats evolve his understanding in an environment of war and massive losses of human life. At the same time, June is discovering the world of avtomat’s in present times. The actions of the avtomats in the present are both controlled by their actions in Peter’s timeline but also motivated by actions that occurred in 3000 BC. By the time the two story lines connect, the simple motivations introduced at the beginning (i.e. Peter’s justice was following the lead of his Tzar) have grown beyond the simple (i.e. Peter combining the need to protect with the need to elongate his people’s existence with happiness and a sense of purpose as elements of justice). The character developments are what pulled me back to this story.
This is a book a would recommend to someone who enjoys a slower pace and is looking for character-driven development.