Retro Friday is a weekly meme hosted by Angie over at Angieville and focuses on reviewing books from the past. This can be an old favorite, an under-the-radar book you think deserves more attention, something woefully out of print, etc.
I already posted about how I was able to get a copy of Clockwork Heart but in case you didn’t see it, Janice of Janicu’s Book Blog generously sent me a copy when she found out that I was interested in reading this book.
Here’s the summary from Dru Pagliassotti’s website:
Taya soars over Ondinium on metal wings. She is an icarus — a courier privileged to travel freely across the city’s sectors and mingle indiscriminately among its castes. But even she can’t outfly the web of terrorism, loyalty, murder, and intrigue that snares her after a daring mid-air rescue. Taya finds herself entangled with the Forlore brothers, scions of an upperclass family: handsome, brilliant Alister, who sits on the governing council and writes programs for the Great Engine; and awkward, sharp-tongued Cristof, who has exiled himself from his caste and repairs clocks in Ondinium’s lowest sector. Both hide dangerous secrets, in this city that beats to the ticking of a clockwork heart…
I was confused for the first few pages of Clockwork Heart because it took me a while to be fully immersed in the worldbuilding and to understand the terms that go with it. This steampunk novel is set in a fictional country where there’s a strict caste system. Only the icarii, couriers who can fly using metal wings, can move freely across all castes. It’s funny because I’m afraid of heights but I would love to try flying using those icarus wings. Taya is an icarus who suddenly gets involved in Ondinium’s politics when she rescues the wife and son of one of the country’s most powerful leaders. Taya was an easy character to like, she’s a no-nonsense type of person who strives to be the best that she can be in her job. She loves to travel, which is fitting since she’s an icarus, and longs to be assigned as an envoy in other countries. Another character that I liked right from the start is grouchy, sarcastic Cristof who’s the exact opposite of his handsome and charming brother Alister. Cristof is a member of the highest caste in the country but he chose to turn his back on his prestigious lifestyle. He works as a clockwright instead because he’s fascinated with the inner workings of clocks and other mechanical devices. I think he’s the steampunk equivalent of a nerd and I found him endearing. Cristof’s geeky charm trumps Alister’s suave moves. Another intriguing aspect of the novel is the relationship between these two brothers and how they do what they can for the other person even though they have such different views in life.
There were some parts of the novel that went way over my head like the mechanics of the icarii’s metal wings and the discussions about programming and subroutines. Programs what? But those things didn’t pull me out of the story so I didn’t really mind them. There’s a lot of action, some mystery and political intrigue in Clockwork Heart, which made it such a fun book to read. I guess it shouldn’t be a surprise that I enjoyed reading this because I’m a fan of political intrigue in fiction. You really don’t have to be into steampunk to like this novel and I have a feeling most fantasy fans would take pleasure in reading Clockwork Heart. I was able to predict one of the plot points and had an “I knew it!” moment but all of the other events were a surprise. It’s only the middle of the year but I have a feeling that this book will make it to my best of 2011 list. I really don’t understand why it’s out of print. I heard that there’s a second book in the works and I’d love to read that as soon as it becomes available. Read this if you get the chance, it deserves to get more attention!