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The Waking Engine Hardcover – February 11, 2014

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 400 pages
  • Publisher: Tor Books (February 11, 2014)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0765334860
  • ISBN-13: 978-0765334862
  • Product Dimensions: 6.4 x 1.3 x 9.6 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.3 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 3.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (45 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #456,409 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From Booklist

Imagine Cooper’s confusion when he wakes up in what appears to be a foreign city. Imagine his surprise when he’s told he died, and this is the next step on his journey, the same journey every person takes, dying and living for thousands of years on thousands of worlds. Imagine his mind-boggling shock when he’s told that the place where he’s awakened, the City Unspoken, is usually a person’s final stop; Cooper seems to have skipped right to the end of his own journey. There are more surprises in store, too, in this imaginative SF novel, in which everyman Cooper is positioned as the (possible) savior of the rapidly disintegrating City Unspoken. The author unavoidably covers some of the same ground as Philip Jose Farmer’s classic Riverworld series (in which people are repeatedly reincarnated along the banks of a seemingly endless river), but it would be a serious mistake to think of this as a retread. Edison breaks some new ground here, and even when he’s in familiar territory, he finds his own way of exploring it. An impressive debut. --David Pitt


"This debut fantasy is a fever dream of vivid imagery and dark luscious prose, reminiscent of China Miéville in its byzantine, steampunk-influenced cityscape." —Library Journal, starred review, on The Waking Engine

"Edison breaks some new ground here, and even when he’s in familiar territory, he finds his own way of exploring it. An impressive debut." —Booklist on The Waking Engine

"Intensely descriptive and detailed, The Waking Engine will spur readers' imaginations." —RT Bookreviews

"Highly original, beautifully weird, deeply immersive, The Waking Engine is a storming debut and a fantasy guaranteed to trip you out." —Adam Christopher, author of Empire State and The Burning Dark on The Waking Engine

"A novel of gigantic—nay, cosmic—ideas, brought down to earth by witty characters and a delightfully clueless everyman protagonist. Universal apocalypses don’t come any bigger, or more entertaining."—Alex Bledsoe, author of The Hum and the Shiver on The Waking Engine

"David Edison makes his debut with a novel of great creativity and richness. There’s nothing small about this story, from its remarkable premise to its cast of splendidly mad characters and its complex, beautifully realized world. I can’t wait for the next volume."—Delia Sherman, author of The Freedom Maze on The Waking Engine

Customer Reviews

Even the ending made no sense to me, both in relation to the larger story and the main character.
In between, there are times where we slow down too much for explanations/details or go too fast and gloss over too much.
B. Capossere
Edison builds great characters and creates a very vivid world ol that mixes the imaginary with our own world.
Marisa Arpels

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By Bacterialover on April 5, 2014
Format: Kindle Edition
I received an advanced reading copy of this book from the publishers through Goodreads First Reads giveaway program.

Any fan of the fantasy/sci fi genre should take note of this highly inventive debut novel, and any fiction reader should pay attention to Edison's future output. While there are some basic problems with the novel, its numerous strengths outweigh them, most particularly the obvious talent Edison has for the writing craft. With greater experience and perhaps a bit less ambition than displayed in this novel, Edison could be a powerhouse.

"The Waking Engine" probably falls closest within the category of 'urban fantasy', but it is truly a mix of multiple genres. This blending of disparate elements becomes the defining aspect of the work, from its influences, its structure, its writing, its plot, etc. Remarkably, most of these pieces end up working when put together.

The strongest accomplishment (as appears universally acknowledged by both those that liked the book or not) is the world building. I am not convinced that the universe of "The Waking Engine" is wholly original in its ingredients - they are mined from a host of archetypic stories - but Edison certainly molds these into something his own. Decent fantasy world building is not particularly unique, but what Edison does excel at is the revelation of this world to the reader. The reveal is gradual, full of mystery, and thereby very captivating. It almost invites the reader to shout out questions as they try and gain footing in the uncertainty, bizarreness, and confusion. Tying the protagonists discoveries to the revelation for the reader helps make him relatable and helps drive the plot forward.
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5 of 6 people found the following review helpful By Anya @ On Starships and Dragonwings on February 11, 2014
Format: Hardcover
The Waking Engine by David Edison is one of the most original sci-fi/fantasy stories I’ve read in a long time. From the intriguing premise of a city where immortals come to die, to the beautifully descriptive writing, to the full cast of very diverse characters, The Waking Engine is a book you need time and concentration to fully enjoy but you probably won’t regret it! I do need to note immediately that there is adult content in this one in terms of language (f-bombs and other offensive terms), some sexually explicit scenes, and a fair amount of gore (though not more than I could handle).
Note: I received an eARC of The Waking Engine through Netgalley for an honest review. Some things may be different in the final version.
This book has adult content.

The Waking Engine by David Edison
Published by Tor Books on Feb. 11th, 2014
Genres: Adult, Dark Fantasy, Sci-fi
Length: 400 pages
How I got my copy: NetGalley

Welcome to the City Unspoken, where Gods and Mortals come to die.

Contrary to popular wisdom, death is not the end, nor is it a passage to some transcendent afterlife. Those who die merely awake as themselves on one of a million worlds, where they are fated to live until they die again, and wake up somewhere new. All are born only once, but die many times . . . until they come at last to the City Unspoken, where the gateway to True Death can be found.

Wayfarers and pilgrims are drawn to the City, which is home to murderous aristocrats, disguised gods and goddesses, a sadistic faerie princess, immortal prostitutes and queens, a captive angel, gangs of feral Death Boys and Charnel Girls . . . and one very confused New Yorker.

Late of Manhattan, Cooper finds himself in a City that is not what it once was.
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4 of 5 people found the following review helpful By Brendan Davis on March 4, 2014
Format: Hardcover
It tries so hard to be interesting. And it comes close in so many ways, but succeeds in virtually none. It's admirable, really, but the author reaches so hard to be clever that you imagine you're at a literary drum circle. The twists are noticeable from six lives away, the pace is plodding, the characters are flat yet universally pretentious, and 75% of the reincarnated people from Earth (Sorry, Terra) that the main character interacts with were major movers and shakers in our history.

To be completely honest, I couldn't finish the last 10% of the book. It kept getting worse and worse, but when Cooper met







Richard Nixon, I thought it was clever. Until Nixon began a main character, and I realized the author thought he understood Richard Nixon far better than he really did. An enternal unboy? And an unnecessary racist? What the what?

When he met Cleoptra, I actually kind of bought it. She was around just long enough, and presented in the right context that I could believe it. Which is funny, since she's a cliche for people who claim they're reincarnated from Cleopatra.

But when "Walter" turned out to be Walt Whitman, I just couldn't do it anymore. There's a line, and that's well past it.
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Format: Kindle Edition
The Waking Engine, by David Edison, continues my unfortunately long-running streak of books that fell short of their potential. As with many of them this past month or so, The Waking Engine has a great premise—people (defined very broadly) do not die just once; instead they do so multiple times, each time waking in a new body to a new life on another world, but with all their memories intact. Eventually, however, you’ll end up in one of a few places where True Death occurs. And one such place, the City Unspoken, is the setting for Edison’s novel, which opens (after a short prologue) with the main character, Cooper, awakening in the City after only his first death, a highly unusual occurrence.

Cooper arrives in the midst of a multi-pronged crisis. The dead have stopped Dying, the Prince and his the ruling aristocracy have sealed themselves inside the massive palace-dome, and the subsequent power vacuum has left the door open for ambitious sorts to try and take advantage and/or seize control. Among those who seek more power are a cabal of necromancers and their Death Boys/Charnel Girls, Cleopatra, an absent fey cyborg, and (separately) her sadistic fey daughter. Also thrown into the mix are Richard Nixon (in young boy form on this world), a foppish but possibly deeper-than-he-looks aristocrat, Kurt Cobain, a few gods, an angel or two, a young noblewoman named Purity Kloo who wants to escape the dome because she is sick of being sealed in (and because a serial killer is on the loose), a plumber, Walt Whitman, and the pair who originally find Cooper: Asher and Sesstri, who seemingly seek to right the ship of the City, though their agendas are a bit murky from the start.

Whew. If that seems like a lot, well, it’s only because it is. Actually, a bit too much I’d say.
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More About the Author

David Edison was born in Saint Louis, Missouri. In other lives, he has worked in many flavors of journalism and is editor of the LGBTQ video game news site He currently divides his time between New York City and San Francisco. The Waking Engine is his first novel. Read more at

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