Cover art: Jon Foster
Cover design: Jamie Stafford-Hill
A CLOCKWORK CENTURY NOVEL/
A CLOCKWORK CENTURY NOVEL/
CLOCKWORK CENTURY BOOK 1
Published: September 2009
On the cover:
In the early days of the Civil War, rumors of gold in the frozen Klondike brought hordes of newcomers to the Pacific Northwest. Anxious to compete, Russian prospectors commissioned inventor Leviticus Blue to create a great machine that could mine through Alaska’s ice. Thus was Dr. Blue’s Incredible Bone-Shaking Drill Engine born.But on its first test run the Boneshaker went terribly awry, destroying several blocks of downtown Seattle and unearthing a subterranean vein of blight gas that turned anyone who breathed it into the living dead.
Now it is sixteen years later, and a wall has been built to enclose the devastated and toxic city. Just beyond it lives Blue’s widow, Briar Wilkes. Life is hard with a ruined reputation and a teenage boy to support, but she and Ezekiel are managing. Until Ezekiel undertakes a secret crusade to rewrite history.
His quest will take him under the wall and into a city teeming with ravenous undead, air pirates, criminal overlords, and heavily armed refugees. And only Briar can bring him out alive.
Wow! Are you actually allowed to write Steampunk that isn't set in Victorian London? Kidding aside, it is actually refreshing to see some Steampunk that isn't set in London for a change. The location here is Seattle, Washington (State), USA. A city that Priest manages to make come alive very well in her novel.
I really like the way the book opens with an "excerpt from a history book" prologue. It means there isn't the need for so much infodumping at the beginning of the book, and it also helps place the story in its historical context.
The story itself opens relatively slow, but gives us a great introduction to Briar Wilkes and her son Zeke. Both of them are interesting characters in their own right, and Priest early on makes it clear what kind of relationship they have, something that serves to make both of them both more sympathetic and relatable.
Priest is good at building up to the action with a look at the world in which the story is set. When things "really" start to happen, you are already well aware of the local environment. And there is enough information to get a good idea of what the status is within the larger world of this Alternate History world.
There's quite a bit of action in this book. Priest writes very good action scenes, and she doesn't let the action overpower the storyline. They come more as an added bonus to what is already a suspenseful story.
Much of the suspense in the novel comes from the setting and the atmosphere it provides. There is a constant sense of the characters being isolated, moth literally and figuratively. And this works very well, you understand the sense of dread that the characters feel and Priest's prose draws you into it.
Along with writing a suspense-, and action-filled novel, Priest has also managed to find room for a couple of rather big mysteries. And she manages to delay the revelations of them for a long time without it becoming annoying , and when she eventually gives us the answers they are worth the wait.
What made me most happy about finishing this book is knowing that there are more novels in this series that I can move on to, and I really look forward to doing that.
This is a very good novel, it works great both for Steampunk and Alternate History fans, and I don't think Survival Horror fans will go away disappointed if they try it out either.
A book I don't hesitate to recommend to anyone that likes a good adventure set in a vivid and realistic world. And a great introduction to Steampunk for those that haven't tried that out yet.
Links: Cherie Priest Tor/Forge Tor/Forge Blog