Read Clockwork Angels by Kevin J. Anderson Neil Peart Online

clockwork-angels

A remarkable collaboration that is unprecedented in its scope and realization, this exquisitely wrought novel represents an artistic project between the bestselling science fiction author Kevin J. Anderson and the multiplatinum rock band Rush. The newest album by Rush, Clockwork Angels, sets forth a story in Neil Peart’s lyrics that has been expanded by him and Anderson inA remarkable collaboration that is unprecedented in its scope and realization, this exquisitely wrought novel represents an artistic project between the bestselling science fiction author Kevin J. Anderson and the multiplatinum rock band Rush. The newest album by Rush, Clockwork Angels, sets forth a story in Neil Peart’s lyrics that has been expanded by him and Anderson into this epic novel. In a young man’s quest to follow his dreams, he is caught between the grandiose forces of order and chaos. He travels across a lavish and colorful world of steampunk and alchemy with lost cities, pirates, anarchists, exotic carnivals, and a rigid Watchmaker who imposes precision on every aspect of daily life. The mind-bending story is complemented with rich paintings by the five-time Juno Award winner for Best Album Design, Hugh Syme....

Title : Clockwork Angels
Author :
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ISBN : 9781770411210
Format Type : Hardcover
Number of Pages : 315 Pages
Status : Available For Download
Last checked : 21 Minutes ago!

Clockwork Angels Reviews

  • T. K. Elliott (Tiffany)
    2019-02-23 03:52

    Clockwork Angels is the companion book to the new Rush album of the same name. It's a steampunk fantasy describing a young man's dissatisfaction with his safe, ordered life in the Watchmaker's precisely ordered realm (even the rain arrives on time) and his embarkation on an impulsive adventure that rapidly spirals out of control. Through the book, the hero - Owen Hardy - changes from a naive boy to a young man.However, if you are expecting complex plotting and multi-layered characters, you will not find them. Clockwork Angels is an allegory; Owen's physical journey represents his (and everyone's) journey to maturity, with the inevitable disillusionments and discoveries along the way. As you travel with him, you get to think about the virtue of balance, and the fact that extremes of either order or chaos can be equally undesirable; the nature of life and death; the purpose of imagination; and freedom - the freedom to choose, and the freedom to fail; and more. Some of these concepts occur as themes throughout the book (such as freedom) and others as vignettes covered only in one scene or part of a scene.Anyone with an interest in philosophy or French literature will recognise a strong resemblance to Voltaire's Candide; in some ways, Clockwork Angels might be regarded as a retelling of Candide for a modern audience; the authors - for I include Neil Peart, Rush's drummer - say in an afterword that Candide 'was an early model for the story arc'. For Rush fans, there are also plenty of references to Rush's previous work.So in conclusion, you can read this just as a steampunk fantasy and enjoy it, but by doing so I think you would miss out on the best bits. Read it slowly, and allocate it the brain space and time for some good thinking. You'll be glad you did.

  • David Spencer
    2019-02-26 02:51

    Disappointed in this one. "It was okay" about sums it up -- it's a fairly bland coming-of-age story with some inspired elements, but it's dragged down by the attempts to shoe-horn Rush references everywhere he could.A novella that fleshed out the story of Clockwork Angels, the album, would have been fine. By making it a full-length novel we end up with the author spoon-feeding us way more than we need of the protagonist's mental state, along with clumsy Rush lyrics thrown into just about every chapter. As a huge Rush fan, these stood out every time they came up, and totally threw me out of the author's world.Rush, the band, is funny and self-deprecating at times, and I have no problem when they silly up their serious stuff (The Pirates of the Temple of Syrinx, for example), but this is an author attempting to be serious and throwing in so many winks and nudges to the fanbase that I couldn't stop rolling my eyes.Pass on this one if you're not a Rush fan -- the story just isn't something to go crazy over. And pass on it if you are a Rush fan -- the constant annoyances will drag you down.Sorry, Neil.

  • Jeff LaSala
    2019-02-23 23:47

    This is a short review of only the first few chapters of Clockwork Angels. As a longtime Rush fan, a sci-fi/fantasy novelist, and editor-in-training, I was honored to have receive a teaser copy from KJA to scope out.To be clear, there is absolutely a certain level of bias feeding my opinions. From the moment I heard Fly by Night as a kid, I'd been won over by the musicianship, lyrics, and imagination of Rush. I've thrilled at the darkly wondrous "2112" and "Cygnus X-1," the epic fantasies of "Xanadu," "The Necromancer," "The Fountain of Lamneth," and "Hemispheres." And only two years ago, the steampunk-flavored sets and music of The Time Machine tour (click here to see my view of the latter). So yeah, I'm predisposed to like this. But I'm also a writer of speculative fiction myself and have what I believe is a discerning eye for a good story. Kevin J. Anderson andNeil Peart collaborated on Clockwork Angels: The Novel and these first three chapters, which merely set the stage for the grander adventure, showcases both Anderson’s well-honed world-building talents and Peart’s luminous, fairytale narration.In the first chapter, we’re introduced to the protagonist, Owen Hardy, and the predictable, "like clockwork" world he lives in. While it’s dry and commonplace to him (a fact which is only occurring to him as he prepares to come of age), it’s still quite interesting to us: Steamliner caravans float across the sky, then descend to tracks on their way to Crown City, laden with iron, copper, or lumber from distant mountains. Weather alchemists issue almanacs across the land that state, down to the precise minute, when the next thunderstorm will occur. Everything occurs as planned, and people are seldom harmed . . . thanks to the benevolence of the Watchmaker, who brought about the Stability.As you would expect, there is a quiet, ordered oppression lurking in this seeming utopia, and Owen feels a sense of yearning to break from his well-defined role and see the larger world. I daresay it’s instantly reminiscent of the narrator’s words in "The Fountain of Lamneth," who yearns to see the world beyond "the mountains in the east." Or perhaps the "android on the run" in "The Body Electric"? Or how about the young man who challenges the ordered paradigm of the Temples of Syrinx? Oh yes, this is a Rush tale.This book is set up to be an instant pleaser for Rush fans: the writing is synchronized with the lyrics in Clockwork Angels, fleshing out the full story only alluded to in the music, and it’s even peppered with lyrics from beyond that album. What I’m most curious about: How will this book hold up to non-Rush fans? It’s hard to say, but as a guy very familiar with fantasy and science fiction, and an appreciator of the marriage between book and music, I find that it holds up splendidly. Yes, there is a certain level of familiarity in the set-up. There are a few tropes and schemes we’ve seen before (which is unavoidable in a known genre), but there are already story elements that suggest more than a fresh coat of paint on an otherwise well-trodden genre. This is a steampunk fantasy as written by veterans of music and imagination. In any case, I’m still talking about only the first three chapters. Things are only just getting started. We know from the corresponding album that Owen Hardy is going to make it to Crown City and see the Clockwork Angels with his own eyes, will witness the “evil” of the Anarchist, will fall in misguided love with a carnie, and have perilous adventures in his headlong flight. But how and why? And what will the resolution be? I can’t wait to find out.I hope fans of Rush and Anderson, and anyone who enjoys good speculative fiction, joins me in this!

  • Tim Hicks
    2019-02-25 23:44

    2.6 stars, rounded up. Peart says in the Afterword that Anderson sometimes dictated book chapters while mountain climbing. I'm not surprised. I've read other books by him that left the impression he wasn't giving it all his attention. The book is a collection of Young Adult adventure tropes, stitched together over Peart's frame. I remembered Mieville's Railsea, and a whole bunch of other "young man talks his way onto a ship" books. I've started thinking of Anderson as more of a carpenter than a craftsman. He can whip out a reasonably competent story as fast as anyone this side of Isaac Asimov. But they leave the impression of a fireside storyteller. He can get repetitive (porkpie hat, porkpie hat) and I suspect his characters come out of a catalogue of stock characters. OK, it's an allegory, so maybe cardboard characters are allowed. And maybe it's OK for our hero to go in a random direction - twice! - and JUST HAPPEN to encounter the very thing the author needs him to encounter. A character is introduced in a bookshop. Throughout the events of the next few pages, I skimmed a bit, because it was clear that this whole scene was the setup to put Owen with this character. Yup.As perhaps his role in the story demands, Owen is a cretin. He heads into a large city with empty pockets. He heads into a desert with very little water. But I will admit that he develops a bit as the story goes. Why did I know that as soon as he left his village, it wouldn't be more than a few dozen pages before he met a circus? And only a couple more before he fell in love with the pretty girl? Sigh. Will someone write one where the kid falls for the Bearded Lady? This is a not-bad light read. It's interesting to read the Afterword to understand what the project was. The artwork is excellent. You want a YA quest story? Go find a copy of Avram Davidson's Peregrine: Primus, or John Myers Myers' Silverlock.

  • Dillon Hills
    2019-02-25 05:12

    This book was one hell of a fascinating journey. I started it before leaving on a trip to Seattle and could not put it down. I planned on it lasting me til I got back home but I still have two days before I head back! From the first sentence I was hooked. It's a classic coming of age adventure filled with all the excitement and terror one would expect from the minds of Kevin J Anderson and Neil Peart. I love the latest Rush album, Clockwork Angels. So was more than pleased when I heard they were developing a novel based off the story the album told. As a rush fan, I always looked at the lyrics as master forms of story telling. The large pieces were Epics! But those were only 20 minutes at the most. This was a 60+ minute story all told through every song weaving together! At moments, I'd play the album or certain songs while reading parts of it. And if you're a Rush fan, you'll notice many nods to other songs and lyrics throughout. But it will not take away from the story. Just fun to point out when they come around. My closing comment is to listen to "The Garden", the final track of the album, while reading this books epilogue. It's a beautiful combination. The last few chapters were beyond perfect. I hope to visit this world again. Not in the form of a sequel, but to one day rediscover this book on my shelf years from now, put the album on, And get lost in the struggle between The Watchmaker and The Anarchist as I follow Owen Hardy on all his journeys of this great adventure.

  • Kathryn
    2019-02-26 06:03

    2 1/2 starsWhen I first heard Neil Peart would collaborate with author Kevin J. Anderson on a fiction project connected to the latest Rush album, I was intrigued. For about two years, since the release of the band's single "Caravan," we waited for something - anything - resembling a larger project that might necessitate a tour for support. The hardcore fan base saw that wish realized with the release of Clockwork Angels the album (which I do enjoy) and the corresponding novel of the same time, which crafts the various themes of Peart's songs into a story that blends steampunk and fantastic imagery with the humanist ideals for which the band is known.If you follow Rush religiously (sorry for the pun), you may find the former elements curious, since steampunk isn't something one would associate with them. Having browsed Anderson's bibliography, steampunk doesn't appear to be a major genre for him, and I would hesitate to place Clockwork Angels the novel solely in this category. As I read the story I didn't get a true sense of time to go with the settings - odd considering time is a primary theme. One could see this as a fantasy or dystopian adventure as well.Anderson and Peart's clockwork world is comprised of a few major continents and cities with names drawn from mythology and ancient tradition: Posiedon City, Atlantis, and Albion...an ancient name for the island of Great Britain. Here the people seem more apt to pursue manual labor, save for those who study at the Alchemy College. We are told that the country of Albion had suffered turmoil and crime before the appearance of the benevolent and enigmatic Watchmaker. For the following two hundred years through the present day, Owen's bucolic home of Barrel Arbor, the more cosmopolitan Crown City, and surrounding villages live in peace and punctuality. You can literally set your watch by everything that happens, from the distribution of national news to changes in the weather. All is for the best, as the Watchmaker is known to proclaim, and few people argue with those words.The two who do challenge this order have different motives. Owen seeks adventure and the opportunity to live out a story he can tell his grandchildren one day; the legendary Clockwork Angels who parrot the Watchmaker's maxims draw him to Crown City, and the wonder of a traveling carnival entices him to extend his journey. The story's antagonist, the Anarchist, creates havoc in hopes of waking people to the realization that the Watchmaker doesn't exactly have Albion's best interests at heart. The way he carries on, of course, makes one wonder if the Anarchist's view of the world is any better.In keeping with the story's connection to Clockwork Angels the album, an assortment of song lyrics and characters provide ample references, perhaps a bit much. A reader more familiar with Anderson's work than Rush's may be able to breeze through the book without making many connections, but I have to admit I found the Easter egg-style lines distracting at times. Anderson doesn't limit himself to the recent album, either, in this respect. A character shouts, "Presto!" and I know there's more to it than the parlor trick he's performing.What disappoints me more about this book, however, is the overall style. Between the many instances of telling instead of showing (and this is not another song reference) and repetitiveness of narrative and dialogue (more than once the author has Owen recapping his adventures and echoing lines) made it difficult for me to appreciate the story. I get the impression, too, that maybe the author hoped to attract the YA reading audience in addition to Rush's older fan base. Owen's young age and the dialogue may imply that, but I think of other books I've read in the dystopian YA genre (most notably The Hunger Games) and find them more sophisticated in style and dialogue.Clockwork Angels had the potential to deliver a thought-provoking adventure, but the writing just didn't grab me. When I think of the other Anderson/Peart collaboration, the story "Drumbeats" (reviewed on this blog), I find I enjoyed that more. For its length, "Drumbeats" is a tighter story with better dialogue - it is also in first person, which makes me wonder if Anderson had attempted Clockwork Angels in that POV would the story be improved.Will you like this book more if you're a Rush fan? You certainly don't have to be one to read it. The book hasn't changed my perception of the album, but I do know I'll revisit the songs more than the story.

  • David Matta
    2019-02-25 08:03

    Clockwork Angels: The NovelKevin J. Anderson, Neil Peart Review The only reason I ever had any profound interest in this book was because I am a loyal Rush fan, and following the release of the album, Clockwork Angels, the main thing I was drawn to was the story, and the lyrics that illustrated it. It told of the story of a young boy, his yearning for adventure, how he met his true love, and other generalities. But the story was incomplete and many questions arose, such as what was the story behind the song ‘Carnies’, or ‘The Anarchist’ or ‘Wish Them Well’? There were so many missing parts, and you could only grasp little bits, or what ever you could conjure up from the lyrics. So when I heard about this novel, I was immediately drawn to this book that told the whole story, in which I could complete the connection between the boy and myself. For the last two centuries, the country of Albion has been governed by the benevolent Watchmaker, who has created an extremely structured and routine society, like a colony of honeybees, where “Ignorance is well and truly blessed”. But the Anarchist also has his extreme views on life, values of spur-of-the-moment actions and rebellion. And their battle revolves around the main protagonist, Owen Hardy, who is coming of age in a world similar to our own. But Owen is not the usual Albion citizen, Owen is a dreamer, who longs to get away from his current situation and see the magnificence of the world around him. But the two extreme philosophical views of The Watchmaker and the Anarchist are being imposed upon him, without his knowing, the novel illustrates the story of Owen trying to find out the truth of life and where he belongs, tribulations that most people go through. Overall the story is extremely intriguing, and the underlying philosophical messages gave the story a strong backbone, to which I could connect. The theme that Peart originally intended to portray is much more interesting than the actual plot itself. Being a Rush fan, and knowledgeable about Neil Peart, it is easy to tell that the values portrayed are exactly what Peart feels life is about, though there is no bias towards either side, it is up the reader to decide. But the tone and the diction of the book were complex yet easy to read and understand, and the plot engaging, as there are many twists and turns that keep the reader hooked, as if on a line. The most intriguing part is trying to unravel the mystery behind this new steampunk world that is created, a world like I have never read about before. The partnership between Peart and Anderson is perfect; the story does not detract from the underlying themes, which makes for an easy, but certainly not shallow read. The only negative thing is that the characters tones are all the same, which becomes somewhat irritating after a while, but Owens, the Anarchists and The Watchmakers tones are different. Also the story is a bit slow in the beginning, but doesn’t last very long, as it soon picks up. The final thing that was entertaining and amusing just as it was irritating for me was the many Rush lyrical references, from songs in their entire catalog. Normally, it wouldn’t be irritating, but being a big Rush fan, they were easy to spot and somewhat amusing. Excluding these tiny details, I extremely enjoyed this intriguing, profound novel about life, love, adventure, power, trust and freewill, as would any reader of any age.

  • Jim Razinha
    2019-02-17 01:55

    Disappointing, but not wholly without value.A novelization of the band Rush's latest album (with the same title), it expands on the songs of that album, but is a flatly rendered and weak story with little depth to the characters or the world they inhabit. Disclosure #1: I've been a fan of Rush since the late 1970s.Disclosure #2: I've listened to Clockwork Angels four times now and it still hasn't grabbed me, though the latest time was at the halfway point in this book, and the context provided by the novel helped to flesh out those bizarre lyrics. Paired, both are better than they stand alone. But only just so. I like the music - some of the most complex and ambitious in their prolific history - but the vocal tracks and many of the lyrics don't work for me. As such, I am somewhat disappointed in the album. Neil Peart has written far better lyrics, and far better themed collections. I suppose I expected more of the book than it simply reading like a novelization of a rock album. At least Roger Waters's warped vision of The Wall could be visualized by listening to that album. No so with Rush's album or this book.In Neil Peart's afterward, he mentioned how Anderson wove less obvious references to Rush throughout the novel. I caught many and thought them gratuitous kitsch. I'll try not to let it color my perspective, but I think Clockwork Angels will never be a "must" listen, and this book will likely never be a re-read.Sigh.[Update: 2/5/2013]It took me seven times through the album before it grabbed me...and then I couldn't get some of the songs out of my head. Unfortunately, they were some of the lesser ones on the album.

  • Mark
    2019-02-26 06:10

    Don’t know how much of this is known, but I am a big fan of RUSH, the Canadian rock band recently celebrating over 35 years of activity. As I type, I have a signed album copy of their album Hold Your Fire over my desk. (It’s not their most exciting cover, but I like it, even more so the album, and the signatures stand out all the more because of its simplicity.)There’s been quite a bit of excitement in the fact that their latest album, their twentieth, is a full-blown concept album. Their most famous album, 2112, only had one side as a concept, admittedly about 20 minutes long. (Pause here to explain to younger readers how 'a side' on a vinyl record works.) So the latest CD, named Clockwork Angels, is currently getting generally very good reviews, and not just from me.My point of raising all this here is that this is the book the new album is based around: or the book based on the ideas of the album, if you catch my drift. Combining the ideas of RUSH drummer and lyricist Neil Peart with the writing skills of author Kevin J. Anderson, the book is intended as an accompaniment to the band’s album.Such ambitious ideas can often fail. So with a little trepidation, and the CD blasting away loudly, I started to read.Later.... In the world of Albion, Owen Hardy, assistant orchard manager in the small village of Barrel Arbor, is, at the age of sixteen, about to become an adult. In his safe, ordered world, known as the Stability, this means settling down in a secure lifestyle knowing where he is and what he will be, managing the apple orchard and being married to his sweetheart Lavinia.However, Owen always thinks big: and in his imagination he thinks about the world outside Barrel Arbour: and in particular that of Crown City where The Watchmaker lives, the guardian of Order who runs the world like clockwork – settled, peaceful and organised. With The Regulators, The Watchmaker runs the city, as the country, in a kind of benevolent dictatorship.Owen is taken by a whim when he is offered a ride by a mysterious individual on a steampunk dirigible, a steamliner, which is travelling to Crown City. There he is determined to see the sights, and see the Clockwork Angels: huge mechanised guardians who give out laws that rule Albion for the Watchmaker. We discover that The Watchmaker is watching Owen closely whilst travelling Albion disguised as The Pedlar. The reason for his secret identity is clear – as The Pedlar, the Watchmaker asks people “What do you lack?” in order to determine their true feelings about his efforts, so that he can make their lives better.However not all of the populace are content. There are agents determined to overturn the order – The Anarchist, described as a “freedom extremist”, feels that such an ordered society creates complacency and is a means of limiting creativity which is therefore something to be destroyed. His steamliner bombing campaigns and graffiti around the city remind the populace to question authority.Secondly, The Wreckers are disrupting the natural order of sea-traffic by causing boats laden with goods to crash and then be looted. Owen finds himself encountering both in his travels.When Owen arrives in the city he quickly spends what little money he has, and joins the travelling circus. There he meets the free-spirited trapeze artist Francesca and learns to juggle. Travelling around Albion with such people who are not restricted to the usual restrictions of time, Owen sees the troupe as his extended family and begins to question what he has up to now always believed.Spurned by Francesca, Owen still attends the Summer Solstice celebrations in Chronos Square where the Magnusson Carnival Extravaganza has been booked to perform. There Owen meets his benefactor, who we now realise is The Anarchist. The freedom extremist is determined to cause chaos and bring down The Watchmaker.Stopping The Anarchist’s attempt at terrorism, Owen finds himself accused of being The Anarchist. Escaping from Crown City, Owen sails the seas until he comes to Atlantis, and Poseidon City, a place run in a less ordered manner than Crown City. Saved from a backstreet beating by Commodore Pangloss, Owen boards a steamliner and goes off to find Cibola, the legendary Seven Cities of Gold. Crossing the Redrock Desert, Owen discovers them, though they are not what most people expect.Returning to society, Owen meets up again with Commodore Pangloss and then boards a cargo steamer to cross the sea and return to Albion. The boat is caught and destroyed by the Wreckers, although Owen is kept alive. It seems he is wanted by both The Watchmaker and The Anarchist as essential to their cause. Owen decides that he is unhappy with either philosophy and as an act of free will decides to follow a destiny of his own choosing. The answer in the end is simple: do what you can in life to be satisfied with your life but don’t be complacent. The way forward is to do what you think is right, wish those who don’t agree with you well but follow your dreams.END OF STORY SYNOPSIS.Reading the book does create some questions: does the book stand on its own without the music? Can the book be enjoyed without the music? Yes, on both counts.There’s some really neat genre ideas at play here. A medieval or steam-punk society, in varying states of development, is the background to what we would normally see as a typical rites of passage novel. There’s the struggle between chaos and order, free will and responsibility, imagination and reality.As a piece of genre fiction, it is as you would expect from that synopsis above – a fairly straightforward tale, well written, that looks at some great big ideas but shouldn’t scare off the casual reader. We’re not talking intense Mieville-ean debate here, more Terry Brooks entertainment. There’s a touch of Ray Bradbury in its use of the carnival as a place of security as well as fear, a smidgen of techno-magic in its coldfire energy, steampunk airships and clockwork guardians, a hint at quantum universes along the way. It would work well for a Young Adult audience, though it’s entertaining enough for adults.Having these quite well known ideas is not too important; it’s what the authors do with them that counts. Though some of the ideas are used and then dropped without being developed too far, generally it is a great page-turner.RUSH fans are going to appreciate the sneaky references to the band’s work: Coldfire engines, malignant narcissism, lyrics from other RUSH albums (‘Free Will’, ‘Time Stand Still’, ‘Roll the Bones’) and so on. You don’t have to get them, but it is a lot of fun and I like the idea that band-fans are going to be trying to find them all.RUSH have always been a band with great, intelligent lyrics and ideas throughout their songs, and there are some concepts here should you choose to find them. The importance of identity, of reaching your personal goals, of obtaining your childhood desires if you work for them, are all there, as too bigger issues such as the importance of society and the difficulties of being in a repressive one. The importance of imagination, the need for the soul to explore – to progress and to evolve as a person, to think for yourself and question – these are all important ideas here, and topics that have been used by RUSH before.Neil, as the main lyricist of the band, has clearly had more input here than some other authors I can think of who put their names on book covers written by other people. It is clearly a collaboration, and both creative talents have clearly enjoyed this experience.There’s a lot here to enjoy, and even those who don’t know the music (now is your chance, go and look!) will enjoy the story.In addition, there’s copies of the song lyrics from the CD at the back, showing how the songs follow the story and an entertaining Afterword by Neil about how the book was written. Referencing influences such as Voltaire’s Candide (1759) it’s as thoughtful and as intelligent as you could hope.I should also mention that throughout there’s also Hugh Syme’s artwork to illustrate. Though my review copy had black and white copies, I gather the ‘proper’ book will have colour plates. Fans of RUSH’s albums will recognise the artist’s style – he’s created most of their artwork for their albums since 1975. It’s lush, detailed and imaginative, and complements the prose admirably.I had my doubts that this wouldn’t work – I’m pleased to type that they are mostly wrong. If my worst fears were realised, this could have been some sort of horrible, cynical, heartless cash-in.I’m so pleased that it is not.

  • Wayland Smith
    2019-03-15 00:53

    A place for everything, and thing for every place. All is as it should be. All is for the best. They sound like such innocuous phrases, don't they? The Clockmaker has taken over Albion, and everyone has their place in his grand scheme. He's gone beyond establishing order to making a realm where even the rain falls in accordance with a printed time table. In this straight-jacketed world is Owen Hardy, an assistant orchard manager, who isn't sure he wants to live his life out in the small village of Barrel Arbor. When his girlfriend presumed fiance doesn't meet Owen for a midnight kiss under the stars, he decides he's had enough of being the cog in the machine everyone expects and sneaks away to see the world. From Crown City to a traveling carnival, from a quest for the Seven cities of Gold to danger with the Wreckers, Owen gets all the adventure he ever wanted and then some. He also learns of the Anarchist, the Watchmaker's sworn enemy, who wants to end the lockstep world of the Stability. Owen gains experience and wisdom as he learns his place in the world. But who will he side with? This is a unique book, uniting the talents of best selling author Kevin J Anderson and Neil Peart, the legendary drummer from Rush. They created this world together and made the story of Owen's coming of age. The afterword in the back by Peart cites a lot of the book's influences, some of which I picked up on, some I didn't. It's also beautifully illustrated by Hugh Syme, who I had never heard of before but might go looking for now. It's a good read in a world of steampunk adventure. Recommended to anyone who likes a decent story.

  • Steven
    2019-03-18 05:42

    I’m a Rush fan and an avid reader. That is the main reason I wanted to read this book. After listening to the latest Rush album, Clockwork Angels, it was obvious that the song lyrics told a story. Although typical to many albums of this nature, it did not tell the complete story, only what would fit lyrically along with the music in order to make a coherent musical recording. So when I heard that Kevin J. Anderson was writing a book based on the story told by the songs on the album, I naturally felt compelled to read it. I really didn’t expect the book itself to be anything beyond mediocre when standing on its own – in other words, when not being read by a Rush fan or at least a fan of the album. Surprisingly, I found the book Clockwork Angels to be thoroughly enjoyable not because it was based on an album by a band I am a fan of, but rather because it is a very well written thought provoking story.In general, Clockwork Angels is a coming of age story that revolves around the main character, Owen Hardy, who has grown up in a steampunk world parallel to our own, where life is very structured with all aspects of it planned out for you by The Watchmaker and the Clockwork Angels. It is a peaceful existence where everyone accepts their place without question. But Owen is a dreamer who longs for something more. And he gets it, in many ways he never dreamt possible. Through his adventures, the story compares the benefits and pitfalls of two extreme philosophical views of social structure. Eventually the ideology of a well-structured society that allows very little personal choice and the concept of complete freedom for the individual to do as they choose with no governing intervention are pitted against each other. This underlying theme provided much depth to the story and made it far more interesting than the simple story presented on the surface. Overall, the story is well written. The main characters and settings are well developed in the beginning of the book, which tends to make the first half move a bit slower than the latter part. But this was probably necessary in order to have the reader grasp the differences between the steampunk world in which the story takes place and our own -in some ways it is more technologically advanced than our world, in other ways, it far behind us – and to delve into what it is that motivates the main characters. Author Kevin J. Anderson does an excellent job of keeping the philosophical aspects more subliminal, making it feel more like a story of adventure than something more philosophically thought provoking. He also avoids lending any bias to either of the extreme views, leaving it up to the reader to reach their own conclusions. As a longtime fan of the band Rush, it was entertaining to find lyrical references to many of their songs scattered throughout the story. Unfortunately, I found this overall, to somewhat detract from the story, At times seeming to be forced in where they didn’t fit ad well as some other dialogue might have. This may be because as a long time Rush fan, I am overly familiar with Neal Peart’s lyrics, making them stand out to me more than they would to someone else. Still, that is the only negative I can say about what is otherwise a very entertaining, insightful and well written book - one that any avid reader will enjoy, whether they are a Rush fan or not.

  • Adam Light
    2019-02-18 06:50

    Full disclosure: I'm a big fan of Rush, especially the pro-rock albums they gave us in the 70's. I discovered them when I was in my early teens, and I still listen to them today. Their latest release, Clockwork Angels is their first "concept" album in a very long time. I thought it was very good, and got better with every listen. When I heard Neil Peart had coauthored a novel which expanded on the album's themes and fleshed out the story, I went into paroxysms of giddy delight at the very thought. What a perfect idea.The strange thing is that I bought the book quite some time ago, and I never got to it. I am happy to say I finally read it, and enjoyed it very much. I think I put it off so long because it is "steampunk", and I have never had any interest in that subgenre.I don't know if Clockwork Angels is a typical representation of steampunk, and I have not read any of coauthor Kevin J. Anderson's works that I can remember, but this book was excellent. The beautiful illustrations by Hugh Syme, who has designed all of the band's album covers, are a huge bonus.The story's protagonist, 16 year old Owen Hardy, is assistant manager of his father's apple orchard. The world in which he lives is controlled by the Watchmaker, who ended chaos and anarchy long ago, and implemented a rigidly structured way of life. Everyone seems perfectly content with the way things are, but Owen has ideas of his own. The book/album tells his tale in epic style. It is easy and fun to read. A grand tale, but I will stop here. I can't bear to spoil anything.Another part of the fun reading this is finding all of the Rush lyrics peppered throughout the narrative. For a long time fan of the band, that was awesome.A great book for anyone, whether familiar with Rush or not, but I think fans of the band will get the most out of it.Now, when will we get the novelization of 2112?

  • Karen
    2019-02-19 07:46

    I found this book to be an absolutely amazing, emotional, beautiful piece of literature! I am familiar with co-writer Kevin J. Anderson's work and I think this is a very strong effort from him. That being said, as an avid fan of Rush and an equally avid fan of Rush drummer Neil Peart's books ("Masked Rider: Cycling in West Africa," "Ghost Rider: Travels on the Healing Road," "Traveling Music: the Soundtrack to My Life and Times," "Roadshow: Landscape With Drums -- A Concert Tour By Motorcycle," and "Far and Away: A Prize Everytime") I am finding it very difficult to review this book objectively as someone who is not already immersed in all things Rush. But that may be kind of the point. Quite plainly, I simply do not believe this book can be fully appreciated by a reader who is not a fan of the band and is not familiar with the Rush lexicon, including the lyrics to their songs as well as the various personal stories and histories of the members of the band, in particular that of Neil Peart's own life. That does not mean that the story does not have merit on its own if a reader knows little to nothing of the band, but make no mistake -- this is a gift to us hardcore Rush fans. The book is peppered throughout with wonderful references not only to the songs from the accompanying "Clockwork Angels" Rush album, but also to dozens of other Rush songs from their past albums. Additionally, much of the storyline follows the personal beliefs, struggles and life-themes of co-author Neil Peart. If you are a fan of Rush, this book may very well blow your mind as it did mine. If you are not already a fan and you choose to read it, it is my fervent wish for you that it will prompt you to delve further into the wondrous, extraordinary tour de force that is Rush.

  • Iain
    2019-03-03 05:50

    I'm a lifelong fan of Rush, and a huge admirer of Neil Peart's lyrics, so when I first heard that their latest album (excellent, by the way) was to be novelised, I was excited... though I must be honest and admit that a considerable portion of that excitement vanished when I heard that it was to be done by Kevin J Anderson. I'm not that familiar with Mr Anderson's work, having read only a couple of his collaborations and a short story or two, but I was aware that he didn't have a great critical reputation.So I went into this novel with lowered expectations, expecting a competent but uninspiring expansion of Peart's basic story, perhaps. And that's more or less what this is, but with flaws that really undermine the whole exercise. The concept is basically a steampunk-infused retelling of Candide - indeed the album openly references Voltaire's story, and so does the novelisation (there's even a character named Pangloss, though confusingly he bears no resemblance to the original, and plays no comparable role). The basic points of the plot are familiar from the album. Our hero, nameless on the album but here christened 'Owen Hardy', tires of his predictable life in the land of Albion, where the powerful and ancient Watchmaker schedules everything down to the weather. He runs off one night on a whim, encounters the rebellious Anarchist, sees the wonders of Crown City, joins a carnival, gets caught up in the Anarchist's plot, flees overseas and has many adventures before returning, older and wiser, to 'tend his garden'. So far, so Voltaire. But early in the novel, Anderson adds the information that our Owen has a Destiny: and that the Watchmaker and the Anarchist are both aware of this, both seeing him as the key to their conflict, and both manipulating events deliberately from the start to win him over to their ideology. This is unnecessary and detracts from the story: frankly, it's pretty hard to avoid the conclusion that Anderson lacks the imagination or the courage to simply let the story work itself out, and is relying on a tired and unimaginative trope to drive the narrative instead. Really bad idea. It doesn't help that the characters are underdeveloped and bland. Owen himself never seems to develop a consistent, individual voice: he's intended to play the role of an everyman, of course, but his only real characteristic is being good-hearted. It's difficult to understand why Francesca ever develops a romantic interest in him, or why Pangloss befriends him, but since they're fairly one-note too, it's perhaps predictable. (The resolution to the romance sub-plot, incidentally, is another particularly ill-judged plot point.) There's some attempt to give the Watchmaker and the Anarchist believable backstory, which works moderately well in the interlude chapters where they're alone, but drops off the page when they rejoin the main narrative. The prose is rather bland and plodding, never really conveying the beauty or wonder needed to make us feel Owen's adventures. It's not helped by the decision to insert various Rush lyrics into the text, which is a nice idea and kind of amusing at first but rapidly becomes clumsy and breaks the flow. The good points: I did enjoy some bits and pieces of the worldbuilding, and the book is beautifully illustrated by longtime Rush artist Hugh Syme. But in the end, I can only recommend this for Rush fans, and with some qualification even then: in its own right, it's just not a book you need to read.

  • Jackie B. - Death by Tsundoku
    2019-02-21 06:47

    Clockwork Angels tells the story of everyman Owen Hardy, a disillusioned 16-year-old who wants more from life than what he has. Breaking all expectations and traditions, Owen sets out into the world and get caught in a battle between the Watchmaker's strive for The Stability and the Anarchist's "freedom extremism"-- or, in simpler terms, Order versus Chaos. Told in beautiful allegory, Owen's journey to maturity reflects back on the reader quite clearly. To anyone familiar with Candide the parallels are obvious. In fact, Peart and Anderson address that Candide inspired Owen's story arc: An optimistic young man who seeks his adventure, only to find pain, suffering, and heartbreak in the wide world. Yet, unlike Candide, not everything is doom and gloom. Peart's spiritual side is obvious as the text explores more philosophical ideas throughout Owen's adventure. The virtue of balance, ideas that extremes in any direction can be equally undesireable, the nature of life and death, ideas of disillusionment in life and with humanity, the purpose of imagination and freedom appear consistantly throughout the text. Yet, nothing is preachy. Anderson and Peart give the reader their own opportunity to make decisions about the story, its intent, and the characters. There is a level of ambiguity around all the elements unlike Candide leaving the reader to decide what is right, what is wrong, and how the world should be. Anderson and Peart provided die-hard Rush fans with plenty of easter eggs. Lyrics from their entire body of work were thrown in the text. To someone who isn't a Rush fan, I'm certain they wouldn't notice. Anderson's writing absorbed these phrases easily. But, to an avid Rush fan, it got distracting. I was constantly picking out lyrics and hearing songs in my head which might or might not have been relevant to the current story. I know many people loved this element but it didn't quite work well for me. To me, the most magical part of Clockwork Angels is the full and combined work. Yes, this book can stand on its own. And so can the album. Yet this is really just one project presented in two separate mediums. Listening to the album in conjunction with the story from the novel combines these elements to form a more complex concept. Together you can experience the truth breath, depth, and context of this tale. If you are even remotely interested in Rush or in this idea, I strongly encourage you to experience these two together. Read and then listen, listen and then read, or do both at the same time-- it doesn't matter. Either way, the experience in the end will be just as magical.

  • Tobin Elliott
    2019-02-27 03:02

    I should like this book. I love Rush, and I love the album that serves as the inspiration to this novel. So really, I should like this book. But I truly don't. It's horrible.I've read (more than) enough Kevin J. Anderson to know he's a prolific, and terrifically lazy writer. He gets the job done, like a Big Mac will quench hunger, but it's all empty calories.In this story, the protagonist, Owen Hardy, essentially gets led by the nose through all of the areas that were conveniently laid out at the beginning of the book. Crown City, the circus, on a supply ship, on an airship, and even strolls around the Seven Cities that no one up to that point have been able to even find. Through it all, he comes to learn he needs to be content, that home is where the heart is, or some other boring soundbite.Don't get me wrong, there were a few moments of brilliance. The disappearing bookstore, the implication of other worlds, the Asimov/Foundation-like ability to predict behaviours, even the Seven Cities, had they not been mishandled so badly.The problem was, instead of exploring any of these fascinating concepts, they were tiny jewels lobbed out into the vast wasteland of sand. Instead of capturing our attention, we were treated to a travelogue where nothing really exciting happened. Want an example? Owen was hungry, he offered to sweep a baker's floor. When he was done, the baker refused to pay him. So--dun dun DUNNNN! -Owen stole a pie! Gripping stuff, that.As well, it felt as though Anderson threw in specific scenes simply to get a reference to a Rush lyric or reference to fit. Instead of stating that a tightrope walker performed with grace, he had to state she performed with grace under pressure. Instead of indicating that Owen decided to go his own way, he stated that his choice was to not make a choice, that he chose free will.Come on. Write me a novel, not a game of find the Rush reference.Reading Neil Peart's notes at the end, I saw that this book had a lot of its origins in some rather lofty, classic literature.Then again, I consider the original Frank Herbert Dune series to be lofty, classic literature and Anderson, along with Herbert's son, took that and crapped all over it, so really, why would Anderson change his method now.Beautiful book to look at. Great companion album to listen to. Terrible story.

  • Ian Thomas
    2019-03-04 01:08

    This book is a far cry from the quality of the album.First of all, I am a tremendous Rush fan, and I believe the album Clockwork Angels represents their finest effort. If it were to be their last, they would leave on the highest note possible.Unfortunately, they set the bar so high, that a writer as poor as Kevin Anderson couldn't possibly hope to even approach it, much less reach it. His writing style grates, with his immature voice and formulaic structures. Every character, for example, is introduced in exactly the same way: a description of the character's outfit. No character has his or her own voice; everyone speaks exactly the same way, and the same tone is used in the narration as well. Anderson throws in literary tools with little regard for their effect upon his quality, tossing in similes and alliteration at every whim. He may have thought his shoehorning of various Rush lyrics into the narrative was a clever Easter egg, but I found it to be jarring when something truly beautiful and lyrical, written not by Anderson but by Neil Peart, interrupted the inanity. One last major complaint is the amount of telling versus showing which goes on in Clockwork Angels. Fully half of this book consists of the main character's inner monologue, which would be fine if his inner monologue consisted of more than reiterating the same thoughts over and over again. Everything is recapped within an inch of its life every few pages, to the point where I would just skip ahead.I realize this book was written because of the author's relationship with the band, but I really wish instead it had been taken on by a writer of much higher caliber. As it is, I was very disappointed. Based upon my own rules of reviews, I had to give this two stars because I finished it. Really, though, it's only 1.5.

  • Peter
    2019-02-17 00:57

    Well, it was a pretty quick and entertaining enough read, anyway. I liked the world building. I've never read Anderson before, but it's really impossible for me to see this book except through the lens of being a Rush fan. I love Clockwork Angels (The Album). Best Rush album in, well, a long time. A concept album, to which this book is the written companion. As a Rush fan it was distracting to see so many Rush lyrics woven into the text, and I'm not talking merely or particularly of the lyrics from Clockwork Angels, but rather about the lyrics from much older albums. It almost suggests a thread throughout all of Rush's lyrics that leads to this apex. And to some extent I get that, since Neil Peart has a particular worldview that is prevalent in Rush's lyrics. And Peart is a fabulous lyricist, but what works as a turn of phrase in a song, delightfully ambiguous though it may be, fails me as prose, and all too often I was jarred by Anderson's explicit use of imagery from past Rush albums to make a statement in the book. And some of it was too precious--Deke, Leke, and Peke--but at least that stuff didn't take up too much space. Frankly, the book read like an extension of Peart's prose, which I've read mostly in his travelogues and find to be a little heavy handed (subtlety is not his style, it's interesting to see that play out in Anderson's novel as well). Still, extra points for an engaging world.

  • Jamie Barringer (Ravenmount)
    2019-02-19 03:56

    I loved this book. It presents a really cool world, one I wish had more books about it. The concept of intersecting worlds introduced in this story is lovely, and I really love the aesthetics of the clockwork angels. It's also satisfying that while we see in this novel how the seeming utopia of Albion is not perfect, we also see how it does provide a happy, safe, fulfilling lifestyle for most of its people. This is a much more nuanced concept than just criticizing the clockwork society for its restrictiveness, and offered a lot to think about.

  • Jen Healey
    2019-03-10 02:48

    I truly loved this book! In fact I would go so far as to say it made my heart sing! No pun intended. Although, each time I came across a Rush lyric, seamlessly woven in, it did make me smile. A superb story, philosophical musings, nurturing gardens and Rush - what more could a girl ask for?! And because I can't resist - I will choose Freewill! ;)

  • Louise
    2019-03-07 01:05

    I've never skimmed so hard in my life.

  • Ian Bott
    2019-02-25 05:00

    If you like placing things in pigeonholes, this story is going to cause you some problems. The story world is a surreal blend of sci-fi and fantasy, but rather than being an awkward compromise the story is unashamedly its own master, teasing you with hints of both underlying rational mechanism and magical roots and making no apologies for the ambiguity.Without delving into the plot details, I found it a roller coaster adventure exposing he perils of too much order on one hand, and too much chaos on the other. A poignant series of shattered dreams and expectations, and a young man's search for his own place in the world.

  • Kevin
    2019-03-18 01:50

    "The Watchmaker says we can't make time stand still. Don't look back, but take the time to look around you now." (31)"Sprawling on the fringes of the city" (45)"'Justice against the Hanged Man,' she said, then ... 'Knight of Wands against the Hour' ... 'Hermit against the Lovers'" (61)" ... mystic rhythms of ... " (69)"Wheels within wheels in a spiral array ... " (76)" ... decided that he had to stick it out. The universe had a plan ... " (82)"'Roll the bones' ... " (85)"' ... why are you here ... ?' 'Because I'm here ... ' " (87)" ... so delicate and so grand, were indeed divinely inspired ... " (100)"No one else wanted to make the terrible choice on the price of being free." (104)" ... above all that, he would choose free will." (105)"I have no faith in faith." (138)" ... lenses, red ones ... " (141)"Animate!" (143)" ... all the busy little creatures chasing out their destinines ... " (144)" ... each intersection marking a choice that led to other choices in a widening cascade ... " (147)" ... had shown him what a fool he was." (152)" ... headlong flight ... " (164)" ... Where would he rather be? He made up his mind - anywhere but here ... " (166)" ... one little victory ... " (169)" ... set the wheels in motion ... " (170)" ... they laughed at the very idea. They called him insane ... " (172)" ... spindrift ... " (183)" ... liquid-crystal compass ... " (210)" ... ... "the way the wind blew ... " (210)" ... flew by night ... " (211)" ... he imagined what he might have said differently, alternative choices he could have made, and how Francesca might have responded. If there were many other possible worlds, much like this one but different, perhaps in one of them another version of him had done everything right ... " (211)"When they had made all the necessary preparations and were just finding excuses not to part ways, they stood by ... in awkward conversation." (222)" ... there is a lake between sun and moon ... " (220)"Carry this dreamline compass" (222)" ... On my way at last ... " (222)" ... majestic arches like windows to a new world. Lumpy obelisks and hoodooes reminded him of distorted mushrooms or playful shapes like hunched trolls." (225)" ... Time stood still for him ... "" ... You're a stranger, a dangerous stranger - not some long-awaited friend ... " (257)" ... tough times demand tough hearts ... " (261)" ... malignant narcissism ... " (262)" ... understand me, analyze me ... " (262)" ... driven by simple greed, not ideology ... " (262)"The true revolution has to come from simple, everyday people like you." (262)"I'm nobody's hero" (263)" ... out in a vapor trail ... " (263)"Let me cut to the chase." (267)" ... chose not to decide. That was the choice he had made. That was his free will." (268)" ... a measure of love and laughter ... " (270)" ... had sent him in motion like a windup toy ... " (274)"You can't fix everyone. Turn your back and walk away. If you hold a grudge too long, it'll eat you up like a poison inside ... you don't have to forget everything, but you're not responsible for it all either." (281)" ... inner pools of poison ... " (285)" ... she performs with such grace under pressure ... " (286)"They enjoy living in the limelight." (288)"The treasure of a life is a measure of love and respect." (289)

  • Perry Watson
    2019-03-04 04:49

    This book takes a bit of time to get into, but I'm glad I did. I finished two days after I bought it, so it must be good.The slow start comes from a pretty bland opening, with a naive, good-hearted dreamer named Owen Hardy as our protagonist. Having grown up in the sleepy rural village of Barrel Arbor, under the absurdly rigid rule of the Watchmaker, he longs for a bit of adventure and excitement before he gets married and his life becomes entirely predictable from there on out.Aside from the inciting incident (a mysterious man helps Owen hitch a ride on a cargo train to see the magnificent capitol Crown City), nothing much interesting happens for the first half of the book. He sees plenty of interesting sights, and meets some interesting characters, but until about halfway through it never feels like there's anything at stake for him, and he's never in any danger. Things get much more exciting then, but this book is about a young man's coming of age, with adventure serving more of a means to an end, rather than the whole focus of the story.What that leaves us with is sort of a cross between Jeffrey Ford's The Well Built City trilogy and Voltaire's Candide. The latter was actually a heavy influence, and there are numerous references to it throughout the text. There is symbolism in abundance (not as deep as Ford's, though), and the recurring theme is the balance between extreme stability (represented by the benevolent, though misguided Watchmaker) and extreme freedom (represented by the villainous Anarchist). It requires the right mindset to enjoy, I think. Unlike most stories I've read, where something goes terribly wrong right at the beginning and the drama comes from the characters overcoming it, the events in Clockwork Angels just sort of happen, some good, some bad, and we get to see how Owen reacts to them and learns from them.The setting of this story is excellent, though it also takes some time to become interesting, since it begins in a sleepy rural village, after all. It's steampunk, after a fashion, due to the abundance of clockworks and steam power, but it differs significantly from the usual steampunk by the inclusion of alchemy. All their steam boilers are powered by alchemical reactions, namely a chemical called "coldfire." Throughout the book, their civilization's mastery of alchemy lends the setting a unique feel, where lists of exotic reagents (molybdenum, natrium, potassium, precision gems, moonstone, dreamstone, redfire opals, etc.) can create dazzling, magical effects. What's more, since this is an young man's coming of age adventure, we see numerous locales, each very distinct and very well realized.The characters are quite good, as well. Though I started off not really liking Owen for his ignorance and naivete, towards the end of the book he becomes a much more well-rounded and self-assured character. Then you have the Watchmaker and his misguided benevolence, the Anarchist, with his pent up anger and dangerous "freedom at all costs" philosophy, a troupe of carnies he travels with for a time, and more. It is a world populated by all sorts.Though it may have been slow to start, and not exactly the sort of fantasy book I'm accustomed to reading, I found it to be a very enjoyable and refreshing experience. I strongly recommend it.

  • Cathy
    2019-03-02 07:52

    3.5 stars. This book is a fascinating collaboration between author Kevin J. Anderson, Rush lyricist Neil Peart, and featuring art by Huge Syme. It's physically quite beautiful, kudos to the publisher who decided that heavy, slick pages with slight sepia color were a good idea, as well as having the first page of each chapter printed on what looks like the yellowish pulp paper that the daily news is printed on in the town that Owen grew up in. But the real draw is the collaboration between the novel and the music. It's a really cool project that I just had to check out.I'm one of the people who went into this as a KJA fan, not as a Rush fan. I really liked the album, but I can't imagine listening to it without reading the book, it would be like listening to the soundtrack of a musical without having seen the show. I've tried to do that with Rent and In the Heights and it really doesn't work. The songs just don't have any meaning or resonate without a context. I don't know much about the band but I wonder how much these particular songs will connect with fans without the book, they seem so irrelevant to popular culture. Even having read the book and enjoyed the music quite a lot, the song lyrics don't really mean much to me, there weren't any I really wanted to keep. It did make me want to check out more of their work though.As for the book, it was very charming in many ways. It flowed easily and I was definitely fascinated to see how the story would reflect back and forth with the music. I just couldn't quite give it four stars. I wanted to because it was such a neat project. I loved the crossover between the music and the story, and the art added so much to the book as well. But the story was still just a bit too simplistic for me. I get it, it's a fable, and it's sweet, philosophical, directly referencing Candide and the coming of age journey. It's certainly a departure for Anderson, I'm used to reading very complex and multi-layered stories from him. I just don't think the relationship between the songs and the story had to be quite so simple, step by step. It felt like Anderson restrained himself to keep his pace slower and more straightforward because the lyrics are short or because he didn't want to overshadow the lyrics maybe, since Peart was the instigator of this project. But I think the lyrics could have supported a more complex and layered story that would have been a bit more interesting. I'm torn. There was some really wonderful world-building here. But then Owen's Candide-like tale was a straight-shot on top of this wild and dirty and crazy and complex setting, it was too predictable, too familiar. I just can't quite give it the four stars that I wish I could. But it's a really cool collaboration and I do think you should check it out, definitely both the book and album together. And I really hope that other artists take up the model, I would really love to see more projects along this vein.

  • Lisa Petrocelly
    2019-03-10 03:56

    A few things led me to read this book: first, I continue to read more things outside my comfort zone (crime fiction) and this is science fiction/steampunk. Next, I'm married to a big Kevin J. Anderson fan as he cowrote many of the Dune novels with the son of Frank Herbert. Ken is much pickier than i am with fiction so I wanted to give Anderson a try. Finally, I've been a huge Rush fan since high school - Neal Peart is considered among the very best songwriters in rock. Pair him with Kevin J. Anderson and I had to read this.Our protagonist, Owen, lives in a quaint town ruled from far away by the Watchmaker, a leader who keeps everything uber-structured - everyone knows their places and things run smoothly because no one questions the lifestyle. Except for Owen - he longs to see the world and have adventures, so he runs away to do just that. The story follows his journey into various cities and settings and we want him to have great experiences. Some do, in fact, turn out to be great; others are enormous disappointments. He eventually encounters the story's villain, the Anarchist, who commits various crimes in order to disrupt the extreme structure enforced by the Watchmaker. Owen finds himself caught in the middle of these 2 extremists and must strive to find his own way in the world, whether anyone agrees with his choices or not. In that sense, it is a "coming of age" story (Owen is meant to be betrothed to a dull girl from his town for whom he feels fondness but not love) and in his travels, he does find love, adventure, independence, and a chance for free-thinking, something he was raised to believe was basically wrong. The book has a theme that revolves around moderation and making one's own choices. This moral if you want to call it that, is presented subtly, not slammed in your face like an Afterschool Special. It also manages to remain fairly light instead of heavily philosophical and is appropriate for all ages (any sexual content is only implied, and violence is a factor, but kept to a minimum).I recommend this for any fans of scifi, fantasy, or Rush, or anyone who wants to mix up their usual "to read" list. As for my fellow Rush fans, a well-known line is very relevant in this book, and that is, "If you choose not to decide, You still have made a choice."Happy reading.

  • T.L. Shreffler
    2019-02-25 01:56

    The good: I liked the setup of this imaginative dystopia, especially the idea of the Clockwork Angels. I found The Watchmaker and the Anarchist to be interesting characters, but the main character, Owen Hardy, is your cliche, typical sheltered hero who goes out adventuring, yet by the end of the book, still seems pretty sheltered. I personally enjoyed the Watchmaker's chapters the most, and I felt like the writing became sharper during these chapters as well. I wish there was more of him in the book.The bad: I felt like the Watchmaker's story, and the Anarchist's story, were abandoned. The ending lacked a sense of conclusion. Early in the book, it talks about The Watchmaker creating "spiritual machinery" to keep his Clockwork Angels alive, which were created from real human volunteers. At one point, the author hints that the Clockwork Angels might actually hate the Watchmaker, and might be more sinister than first thought. Yet after introducing such an enticing subplot, it's never revisited. Anderson abandons the Watchmaker's story arc, and the Anarchist's, without ever reaching a solid conclusion for either character. It feels like Anderson got tired of writing the book, so he came up with a quick cop-out ending, then added an Epilogue to tie up all the loose ends (and there are MANY loose ends once you reach the last chapter.) This was very disappointing, as the Watchmaker was a fascinating character!Overall: It was an easy read, if boring at times, and the author's message gets repetitive. Lots of repetition in this book, with an ending that lacks conclusion. The descriptions are great and the dystopian world fresh and interesting, filled with alchemical machines and imaginative locales. 3/5 stars, not bad, but I wouldn't read it again.

  • Jessica
    2019-03-15 02:50

    Overall, the book really didn't do much for me. It wasn't awful, but it just wasn't my thing - I've never understood the whole steampunk thing, and this book didn't help me with that all. lol I found it really slow at points, and I really just slogged through it out of Rush Fan Honour :-P I actually found the constant Rush references to be REALLY cheesy; the references to the CA album were to be expected, but there are parts, mostly near the start of the book, where every. other. paragraph. has a Rush reference in it. It came off as trying too hard, honestly. Once the references got more spaced out, they had more of what I assume was the desired effect - to make Rush fans smile. And in moderation, it worked, but for the first few chapters... ugh.My favourite parts were easily the parts with the Carnies, and if there was a follow-up book JUST about them/their relationship with Owen, I would be interested in reading it, despite my lackluster impressions of this book. I actually thought that was what the upcoming sequel was supposed to be about, but I just looked it up, and it's not, so... if I buy that book it'll be out of my Rush collecting needs and that's it. I'll probably end up getting the graphic novel of this book just because I have two of the comics already and I haven't been able to find the others. If I didn't have some of the comics I wouldn't bother getting the collection, but again - collecting needs. lolOverall, yeah - I found this book to be quite disappointing, especially since so many other Rush fans seem to adore it, and some even seem borderline obsessed. It just really did not do it for me, at all.

  • Mike Angelillo
    2019-03-18 03:42

    In the Afterword which follows the novel and song lyrics, Peart tells about the inspiration for the story and the process of writing the novel with Kevin Anderson. Among others, he cites Voltaire, Joseph Conrad and Robertson Davies as having an impact on the plot and characters in the story. While I don't ever recall reading a Kevin Anderson novel, he seems to have been very successfull.So all I could think was....what happened?Clockwork Angels reads more like a poor youth fiction than a great coming of age story with an inventive sci-fi background. The dialog has that unfortunate attribute of sounding the same regardless of who is speaking. The character development is very thin, but it could still have worked if the dialog between the characters wasn't so trite. The story of the love affair gone bad which sends Owen from the carnival and eventually to the seven cities is probably the worst offender.Peart's tale of reading the final draft left me even more confused. Did we read the same book? He says "the entire end section, from the wreckers out, felt like an emotional climax, not just a dramatic one."Reading the book, I got the impression that this section was completely rushed (excuse the pun). As if the deadline for the book was fast approaching as the album was about to be released. Let's get things wrapped up and fast!The album is excellent and I echo many of the others in saying I think it is some of the best Rush you'll ever hear. If this was their last studio effort, it would be a great capstone to their career. I am really looking forward to the show in October.The book, however, could have been much better.

  • Caroline
    2019-03-15 00:58

    In a world where order is precisely controlled by the Watchmaker, Owen Hardy, an apple farmer, yearns for adventure and to visit Crown City and to cast his eyes upon the famed Clockwork Angels. But nobody leaves their village. It's not allowed. He takes a chance in sneaking out of his house just before midnight to meet his girlfriend, who doesn't show up and unwittingly embarks on an adventurous journey beyond his wildest dreams when he impetuously leaps aboard a Steamliner. Life, as he knew it, crumbles as he engages with pirates, encounters and falls in love with a carnival artist named Francesca, knows not what to make of makeshift island, is awed by Chronos City and meets with a host of complex characters. The ever changing landscape, exciting machines and people are described in such colorful detail as seen through Owen's eyes that we share in his awe, his excitement, his fear, his sorrow and his joy. As the Watchmaker exerts control over most of the population, providing them with a safe and orderly world, so does the Anarchist introduce chaos in an attempt to disrupt order, and Owen experiences the struggle of one against the other, and the importance of balance.This steampunk book is beautifully illustrated and I chanced upon it, not realizing that it was based on the lyrics of songs by the band Rush. I think the story does well standing on its own for those unfamiliar with the band and their songs. I understand that the experience is enhanced if one listens to the band before, during or after reading the book. I may have to download some of their songs and re-read this.