Book Cover
Title Clockwork Dynasty
Series ---
Author Daniel H. Wilson
Cover Art ---
Publisher Doubleday - 2017
First Printing Doubleday - 2017
Category Science Fiction
Warnings None

Main Characters

Peter, Elena, June

Main Elements Steampunk, robots

An ingenious new thriller that weaves a path through history, following a race of human-like machines that have been hiding among us for untold centuries, written by the New York Times bestselling author of Robopocalypse.

Present day: When a young anthropologist specializing in ancient technology uncovers a terrible secret concealed in the workings of a three-hundred-year-old mechanical doll, she is thrown into a hidden world that lurks just under the surface of our own. With her career and her life at stake, June Stefanov will ally with a remarkable traveler who exposes her to a reality she never imagined, as they embark on an around-the-world adventure and discover breathtaking secrets of the past...

Russia, 1725: In the depths of the Kremlin, the tsar's loyal mechanician brings to life two astonishingly humanlike mechanical beings. Peter and Elena are a brother and sister fallen out of time, possessed with uncanny power, and destined to serve great empires. Struggling to blend into pre-Victorian society, they are pulled into a legendary war that has raged for centuries.

The Clockwork Dynasty seamlessly interweaves past and present, exploring a race of beings designed to live by ironclad principles, yet constantly searching for meaning. As June plunges deeper into their world, her choices will ultimately determine their survival or extermination. Richly-imagined and heart-pounding, Daniel H. Wilson's novel expertly draws on his robotics and science background, combining exquisitely drawn characters with visionary technology--and riveting action.

I was very eager to read this book because, well, steampunk. Now, it's not really steampunk (which is a world in which the entire technology is based on steam, while this book takes place in our own world), but my favorite aspect of steampunk is clockwork beings, and we definitely have that here.

Peter and Elena are two clockwork beings called avtomats whose lives span centuries and are bound by their Word which is in many ways their purpose or their soul. Awakened in Peter the Great's Russia, we jump back and forth between the past and the present as the two threads weave together to bring us to the climatic conclusion. June, a modern day historian researching automatons gets tangled up in their world as the avtomats battle each other across continents and millennia to survive.

Unfortunately, I found the flipping between the past and present is very frequent, I don't know if there were any chapters more than a handful of pages long. Such that when I put it down at night I found I had to struggle a little to pick up both threads the next day. It ended up a little choppy.

I also didn't find myself connecting much to the characters. I more or less like Peter and wanted him to succeed in his goals. Didn't have much feeling for June either way. And I didn't really like Elena all that much, but then I'm not a fan of immortal children, they start to complain all the time after a while.

Talking of immortal children, when will supreme beings figure out that creating immortal children is a very, very bad idea? Basically I couldn't shake the image of Louis and Claudia when reading about Peter and Elena, to the point I started picturing her blond instead of dark haired. If you haven't read Anne Rice's Vampire Chronicles then it is a very interesting topic to explore, how does an ancient being in the form of a 1o-year old function on her own? I mean she can't do anything on her own without child services picking her up and trying to find out where her wayward parents are, even though she's older than the entire child services department combined.

There's also this blond nordic villain. Nothing wrong with that at all, in fact he made a very good villain. However Despicable Me 3 just came out and every time Talus appeared I pictured Dru. Not the author's fault, just my own brain making ridiculous connections!

Overall, I enjoyed the clockwork aspect, and there is quite a bit of history, background and culture for the avtomats. The book didn't drag, it had a lot of action and mystery that worked well. It was just missing some small spark somewhere that would have made it go from a fun read to a great one.

Posted: July 2017


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