I gave this 4 stars because it's not quite in the same league as the best contemporary SciFi like "The Windup Girl" or fantastical re-imaginings of the West like Dan Simmons "Black Hills". In the class with other Steampunk books it is a five star. But, if you like all of your stories to be very clear and wrapped neatly you might not like it as much. It's not as straightforward as the typical genre novel. This is the kind of book with an emphasis on allegory and theme with a literary lilt to the language.
I am also tempted to subtract a point for the ending. My impression is that the author is planning a sequel but was to busy literrary pretense to make the convention clear so it seems to be a bit abrupt. But it kept me engrossed enough and was written well enough to let that sloppiness pass.
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