The Clockwork Crown (Clockwork Dagger)
by Beth Cato
Review by Bill Lawhorn
Harper Voyager Trade Paperback ISBN/ITEM#: 9780062313980
Date: 09 June 2015 List Price $14.99 Amazon US / Amazon UK
On the run with few resources, Medician Octavia Leander and ex Clockwork Dagger Alonzo Garret flee South. Alonzo has family there and the libraries may have information that they need to continue their quest to find the Tree of Life. Along the way new allies and old enemies will help and hinder the couple.
Arrival in Tamaran is chaotic. Alonzo's family isn't as expected. They also get drawn into the a scheme to use a living construct to win a challenge. Octavia has a special connection to the living being, just as she did with Leaf, the small gremlin she sheltered on her trip to Mercia. Alonzo is needed for his piloting skills to guide the creature as nobody else has been able.
A kidnapping and a flight to Mercia, puts Octavia on her path to finding the tree, and speaking with her goddess. She hopes to find out why her talents are so powerful. The answer may ruin all of her hopes and plans.
This is the sequel to The Clockwork Dagger. Reading the first book in the series will help readers understand all of the action, but author Cato does a nice job reminding readers of the highlights of the previous action in the opening scene. This title refers to a specific Caskentian artifact just as the first novel's title referred to crown assassins. A reader new to the series could start here, but The Clockwork Dagger is worth the read, so just start there.
One of the things that drew me into the first novel was the scene early on where Octavia saves a puppy that is fated for the dinner table. A waste of her medicine, but a snapshot of Octavia's character. She is willing to help people and creatures even when there is no potential for her own gain. Cato and I discussed the scene at the 2014 World Fantasy Convention including the reaction of pet deaths by fans. General rule, don't kill the cat, ever. A bit of a spoiler, Leaf is safe.
Octavia is an interesting character in that she has been both sheltered and deeply scarred by life. She has been prepared for a role that was never explained to her. She wants to help others, but is finally learning what it is to live for herself as well. But all of the plans of men mean nothing when there is a higher power that demands attention.
The Clockwork novels seamlessly combine magic and technology. It is hard to determine at points where the magic stops and the technology takes over. Science is magic in some senses, but there are also supernatural powers at play. Like any good novel, it combines the elements of several basic plot devices. There is a mystery, action, adventure, and a touch of romance. The big mystery in this novel is too big of a spoiler to discuss, but it is clear that magic has a role, even if it is looked down upon by some people in the world.
There is the potential for more novels set in the Clockwork world. In fact, there will be a pair of novellas set in the world to come out over the next year or so. The world is growing, hop on the passing dirigible.