This really is one single project presented in two different mediums. That being said the individual works stand on their own. Just as each song on the album stands on its own but combines to form a more complex concept, the novel stands on its own but when combined with the music the sum is greater than its parts. A person not knowing anything about the album what so ever could easily pick up this novel and enjoy the story without missing any critical elements or details. Just the same a person could easily enjoy the album of music without having ever read the novel. However, in my opinion the real magic happens when combining these elements together to grasp the entire depth, breadth and context of the story.
Clockwork Angels: The Novel is set in a "Steampunk" inspired dystopian world devised in the joint imaginations of Anderson and Peart. Steam power energized by cold-fire animates gear driven machinery in a future world as seen through the eyes of a past Victorian styled world filled with quirky Carnies, iridescent Clockwork Angels, rigid Watchmakers, devilish Anarchists and free-spirited Pirates. Our hero, Owen Hardy lives a pleasant yet structured life in a small town tending the family apple orchard. He has bigger dreams and an optimistic but obedient outlook. He fantasizes about what adventures might lay outside his serene but lackluster village. He yearns to visit Crown City where The Watchmaker holds reign over the world of Albion with a down to the second control of all aspects of daily life. Owen impetuously hops aboard a passing "Steamliner" chugging towards the city. This is where the adventures begin.
There are a number of different angles to this story. First and foremost I enjoyed the plain fun and excitement of following the main character through the various adventures. The wide variety of interesting and colorful characters is enough to satisfy any curious imagination. Anderson has a keen way of character description that is encompassing yet concise. The story flows through a wide variety of scenes that keep the plot fresh and quickly evolving. Apple orchards, Carnivals, Chronos Square, The Watchmaker's Orrery, Poseidon City, Redrocks Desert, The Commodore's Steamliner and the makeshift island of The Wreckers, among others, are vividly portrayed with colorful clarity and mysterious intrigue. Clockwork Angels: The Novel is an exciting, fast paced and a cleverly devised story that throws the reader into the middle of a far off imaginary world that combines old world charm with a modern science fiction wonder.
The second layer of the story that captured my attention centers on the love story between the main character, Owen Hardy and the high wire acrobat, Francesca. Owen fell head over heels in love with Francesca at the first sight of her delicate yet confident acrobatic performance at the carnival. At the end of her show she floated down on her wings and singled Owen out by giving her rose to him. Owen placed Francesca on such a high pedestal that it was plain to see the crash that was lying ahead. Owen formed an unrealistic picture of an unobtainable future with Francesca that she did not share nor want to take part in. This foolish illusion led to a falling out that he suffered throughout the forced absence that was imposed upon them both. The conclusion to this relationship is a bit surprising yet both interesting and satisfying....
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