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Some lives can be summed up in a sentence or two. Other lives are epics.
In Clockwork Angels, #1 bestselling author Kevin J. Anderson and legendary Rush drummer and lyricist Neil Peart created a fabulous, adventurous steampunk world in a novel to accompany the smash Rush concept album of the same name. It was a world of airships and alchemy, clockwork carnivals, pirates, lost cities, a rigid Watchmaker who controlled every aspect of life, and his nemesis, the ruthless and violent Anarchist who wanted to destroy it all.
Anderson and Peart have returned to their colourful creation to explore the places and the characters that still have a hold on their imagination. Marinda Peake is a woman with a quiet, perfect life in a small village; she long ago gave up on her dreams and ambitions to take care of her ailing father, an alchemist and an inventor. When he dies, he gives Marinda a mysterious inheritance: a blank book that she must fill with other people’s stories — and ultimately her own.
Clockwork Lives is a steampunk Canterbury Tales, and much more, as Marinda strives to change her life from a mere “sentence or two” to a true epic.
While Clockwork Lives is technically a follow-up book to Clockwork Angels, there isn’t any real need to read the other book first. Both are self-contained, but if you read Clockwork Angels first, you will see the same characters making an appearance here.
I picked up this book on the recommendation of a friend. I was playing with the idea of how you take short stories and link them together with an overall narrative. That’s what you get here and it is amazing.
Marinda Peake gave up everything in order to take care of her aging father. During those long years, she sets up a strict schedule and adheres to it with tenacity. She prefers logic to flights of fancy. She has everything she needs in the small home she shares with her father and has absolutely no desire to go anywhere else. When her father passes away, her entire world is turned upside down.
Her only inheritance is a large book. It contains alchemically treated pages that can distill a person’s life story with only a single drop of blood. In order to receive the rest of her inheritance, her father stipulated she needed to head out into the world and collect enough stories to fill her book. The first story she is given is her father’s. This is the first short story contained within the whole and provides the blueprint for the rest of the book.
As Marinda travels in the search of stories, she quickly comes to realize that most people’s lives can be distilled to a few sentences. As time goes by, she decides she wants the book filled with epic tales.
The stories themselves are amazing. Each one mingles with another in some small way. Whether it’s a mention of a person from another story or a spin-off from something Marinda has experienced herself, they’re all wonderfully written. Every epic tale is also accompanied by a drawing that gives the reader insight into the story to come. I will admit I didn’t pay close attention to them. I have an overly active imagination and couldn’t wait to read the story and watch it come to life in my mind by the excellent writing skills of Kevin J. Anderson and Neil Peart.
By the end of the book, you can’t help but wonder. If Marinda were to take a drop of blood from you, would your story be only a few sentences, or would it spin out an epic tale?