Clockwork Lies: Iron Wind (Clockwork Heart #2) by Dru Pagliassotti

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This book is the continuation of Clockwork Heart which was published on 2008. Despite having a six year gap between the prequel and this sequel, I didn’t notice any timeline discrepancies between the books and Clockwork Lies is enjoyable as a stand alone Steampunk Fantasy novel. Since I didn’t exactly wait six years for this book to happen as I only found the series from a book sale recently, I do think this book was worth the wait.

Much like the last book, Taya Icarus was again involved in a political conspiracy that threatened her country and the lives of her loved ones. This time, she was happily married with Cristof Forlore, a clockmaker slash secret spy slash an exalted who was formerly outcaste but resume his role as the head of his family after the events that lead to his brother’s betrayal and exile. Despite his heroic act to his country, Cristof was still being viewed suspiciously by the Council but was allowed to assume the role as an Ambassador which suited with his wife’s added role as a diplomat which a role she had pursuit before she met him. At the beginning of this novel, a trip on an airship with the neighbouring queen of Mareaux was disrupted when Taya found a box filled with incendiary fluid which and Lieutenant Amcathra who disguised as Cristof threw off the ship. Turns out might have been one of the assassination attempt toward Cristof who was sick prior to the event. When the Marceaux trip had become more dangerous after Taya was poisoned and a bookseller was murdered which might have something to do with Cristof’s exiled brother who secretly provide Cristof with information from the outside world. Amcathra decided for them to return home but along the way, it became more apparent that someone didn’t want anyone of them to survive.

Unlike the first book, it was a fast paced novel since the characters was constantly on the move and the story didn’t set around the heavily cultured and socially-oppressive Ondinium which allowed a degree of expansion around the world inside the book. We get to know more about Mareaux, the political climates and differences in complex diversity and culture between the neighbouring countries. The story is also layered in political strife and war, deception and betrayal and love. The book added more depth to the relationship between Cristof and Taya. Previously, we found out how they met and how they fall in love but this time we see another comfortable side of their love story and how their love strengthened their bond overtime. Of course, their relationship in this book wasn’t to a degree that many would mislabel the story as a Romance Fantasy like many did in the last book. 

One can always wonder what made a book a legit steampunk but for me this series fits the bill. It was easy to lose yourself with difficult and boring tech writings but the details in this book was linear and pretty layman for general readers. It depend on your level of enjoyment really but I love the Ondinium technology especially Taya’s ability to fly as an Icarus and the airships, transportation and communication system and the weaponry. It was fantasy with some touch of tech in it. Then the story became more layered when added with the technologies from the surrounding countries and more when several political elements began to launch a war upon the isolationist Ondinium. I don’t know about you, I always adored airships/dirigibles and fight scenes with airships.

Luckily, the next book Clockwork Secrets: Heavy Fire will be published within the end of this year and I can’t wait for the epic conclusion of this wonderful steampunk series (which are obscure for some reason… then again, I love the covers)

Clockwork Heart (Clockwork Heart, #1) by Dru Pagliassotti

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I didn’t think I’d enjoy a heavy steampunk book with a lot of mystery elements and slight romance element in it. I can’t say this book was explicitly a romance title despite the blurb hinted it so but I enjoyed the worldbuilding more from the tiered city to the people and its caste and politics and also the mystery. Sort of like reading a Final Fantasy 9 story.

I’m not sure this is considerably a light reading material but the concept is really good although the plot was a tad predictable and somewhat brutal. I adore the Hermes-like job the Icarus had and the ‘deus ex machina’ element Ondinium and the Great Machine somehow made the story in the edge of fantasy and science fiction territory. I thoroughly enjoyed every moment the author describe the act of flying with the wings and it’s mechanics.

It’s a story about an Icarus who found herself at the right moment in a wireferry bomb accident and she rescued an upper class or ‘Exalted’ women and her child. Along the way, she finished her job which lead her to an encounter with another pair from the Exalted caste, Alister Forlore and Cristof Forlore who was related to the pair she rescued earlier. Along the way, she became even more intrigue by the mysteries and inexplicably got herself in between the affections of the brothers while also being suspicious over who was responsible with the sabotage.

Steampunk is a hard genre to breakthrough especially if you’re a novice steampunk reader. There weren’t much Steampunk novels being written by women and so other than Meljean Brook’s The Iron Seas series, Clockwork Heart did fit in the bill of light romance and great deal of adventure and more steampunk world building. Sadly, certain demographics always veered to expecting too much romance that it was nearer to erotica. If you want a story about alternate steampunk world and some fast paced plot with just sexual tension, then this book is for you.

Also the sequel was released just recently but not in ebook form which made the local pricing even more ridiculous than the original price.

The Steampunk Bible: An Illustrated Guide to the World of Imaginary Airships, Corsets and Goggles, Mad Scientists, and Strange Literature by Various Authors

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The Steampunk Bible is a small book but ambitious and packed with information which truly fit its name. I think I became more than a newbie reading this.

Densely illustrated with a lot of side notes and more side references to pique you along but sometimes the content wash off me. There was a prevalence Jules Verne fandoming somewhere in between but the most content out of this book has got to be the book references.

I was more familiar with Japanese steampunk so I was quite disappointed how small section dedicated for that in this book. There was countless of games (Final Fantasy series), anime (Full Metal Alchemist), tokusatsu (Kamen Rider), tv series (Garo) and films (Escaflowne)in Japan that was steeped in steampunk than just Steamboy and Hayao Miyazaki. No, I refuse to let Jay Kristoff’s abomination on Japanese culture to ever fit in the genre.

At times, I was completely unfamiliar with the references provided in the book (and there was tonnes of it) but the illustrations helps. But some of the content was a bit repetitive. There’s some section dedicated for US-based Steampunk movement which is a bit nice but done nothing for the international folks really.

Basically its 101 Steampunk, long paragraphs with book and movie recommendations, some fashion and DYI art and some steampunk sculptures. There’s some philosophy in between but the repetitive nature of it made some part of the book redundant. But is it just me, or the book made Steampunk look like unapproachable in term of class aka snobbish? Because it does read like that.