The Clockwork Dynasty alternates between two time lines. In the present day, June Stefanov is a highly specialized anthropologist studying clockwork marvels of the past. What others dismiss as mere toys, June seeks out and researches these amazing automatons that once were showcased in art galleries and the wonder rooms of the rich and powerful. Her life and her research are about to collide in a spectacularly violent way. While studying an automaton hidden away in a church, June learns of a secret group that has been stealing such artifacts. Back at her hotel she is assaulted by a most unnatural man, who causes such carnage as to be truly terrifying. On the run, an unexpected savior comes to her aid. It is in this moment that June’s world is forever changed.
It is 1709 in the workshop of Favorini, court mechanician to Tsar Peter the Great, practitioner of the ancient art of avtomata and keeper of the anima. The year is 1709 and Favorini has brought to life Pyotr and Elena, ancient avtomat. Sentient, clockwork marvels powered by their anima, each avtomat is founded on a Word that defines the core of their very being. Peter’s word is pravda, the unity of truth and justice, and honor. From his awakening Peter’s pravda is inextricably linked to serving the will of the Tsar. Elena’s word is logika and the pursuit of knowledge. Peter and Elena are pampered and prized possessions of the Tsar but despised by his wife Catherine, who sees them as soulless abominations. At the Tsar’s death, Peter and Elena escape St. Petersburg.
The Clockwork Dynasty is the most recent novel by Daniel H. Wilson, author of the “Robopocalypse” series and others. While the main plot is tied up neatly by the end, there is enough openness to continue or even go backwards in time. I would be curious to see this world expanded. This is the first book of Wilson’s that I’ve read, I was thoroughly entertained and will be keeping an eye out for him in the future.