In a combination of alternate-history, secret society with a little steampunk thrown in, The Clockwork Dynasty tells the dual story of June Stefanov (an anthropologist who specializes in ancient technology) and the mechanical being Peter. After having found a unique automaton doll, June is unwittingly dragged into a centuries-long conflict between two warring factions of a world she never knew existed: a group of automatons who have been living among us for what might be over a thousand years. Rescued by Peter after she finds out that the automatons exist, June learns they are dying, and she and Peter must rediscover their primary power source in order to preserve their future. But the real question is: who made them and why?
It’s an interesting story that alternates between June’s present and Peter’s past. Peter is presented as an automaton or an Avtomat who has lost most of his memory, but still remembers his fundamental programming which he refers to as the “Word.” I found his character to be the most engaging and had more depth. From his relationship to his “sister” Elena and to the antagonists, his life has been rich in experience and love. June’s character, on the other hand, falls under the category of a little too convenient. She’s been obsessed with ancient technology all her life. As luck would have it, she was given a piece of their technology by her grandfather which also happens to be the one piece of the puzzle that the automatons have been searching for. We really don’t learn much more about her or her life. In fact, it doesn’t seem like she really starts living until she meets Peter. But maybe that’s the point.
Often, we mere humans don’t get our butts in gear until something traumatic happens, and then it’s too late. Perhaps this a wake-up call to go live your life and not wait until an ancient robot comes barreling into your life. All in all, I did enjoy the action, and the book is definitely a page turner.
If you want a different spin on steampunk other than traditional Victorian fare, then this is the book for you.
Creative Team: Daniel H. Wilson (writer)
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