• Clockwork Boys

  • Clocktaur War, Book 1
  • By: T. Kingfisher
  • Narrated by: Khristine Hvam
  • Length: 7 hrs and 40 mins
  • 4.5 out of 5 stars (450 ratings)

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Publisher's Summary

A paladin, an assassin, a forger, and a scholar ride out of town. It's not the start of a joke, but rather an espionage mission with deadly serious stakes. T. Kingfisher's new novel begins the tale of a murderous band of criminals (and a scholar), thrown together in an attempt to unravel the secret of the Clockwork Boys, mechanical soldiers from a neighboring kingdom that promise ruin to the Dowager's city.

If they succeed, rewards and pardons await, but that requires a long journey through enemy territory, directly into the capital. It also requires them to refrain from killing each other along the way! At turns darkly comic and touching, Clockwork Boys puts together a broken group of people trying to make the most of the rest of their lives as they drive forward on their suicide mission.

©2017 Ursula Vernon (P)2019 Brilliance Publishing, Inc., all rights reserved.

What listeners say about Clockwork Boys

Average Customer Ratings
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  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars

Enjoyable, entertaining adventure

Slate is a forger and thief, Brenner an assassin, Sir Caliban a former knight-champion of the Dreaming God. In that capacity, he killed or exorcised, depending on circumstances, demons who had possessed people or animals. Then he got careless and a demon possessed him,and it was exorcised, but not until after he'd killed eight temple nuns.

They're all condemned criminals, but they've been offered pardons and rewards if they can successfully complete a mission to Anuket City, to find a wayto defeat the Clockwork Boys, giant centaur-like creatures apparently made out of machine parts, who are ravaging the countryside and threatening the kingdom that, however questionable their characters, our three criminals are subjects of.

Slate, possibly because she's the most stable and educated of the three (Brenner may be stable, but not all that educated, and Caliban may be far more educated, but it's not at all clear he's stable), is in charge of this little group. But they're not going to Anuket City alone. They'll have a scholar with them. Learned Edmund is outraged to learn that he's not going to command the mission. He's the one that has the most information about the Clockwork Boys, after all, and the ability read the journal of a scholar who's going missing, if they ever find it and him. Sadly, he's also a nineteen-year-old boy, a dedicat of a the ragingly misogynistic cult of the Many-Armed God, and has no idea how to conduct such an expedition. Learned Edmund is compelled, eventually, to accept this unwelcome piece of reality.

This is in many ways your basic "misfit comrades on a mission." What's different is Kingfisher's skill at drawing interesting, compelling characters. They are all, including Learned Edmund, weirdly likable characters, and for all the varying backgrounds and levels of education, there's a lot of wit, here. In many ways, the most fascinating part of this book are the characters and their interrelationships, and their responses to what they encounter along the way.

This is the first half of the story, but the second half, The Wonder Engine, is also available. I'm looking forward to that.

Highly recommended.

I bought this audiobook.

17 people found this helpful

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    4 out of 5 stars

a joy to find

First if you're expecting steampunk, you might find this book disappointing. It is a first-rate fantasy. There are villainous creatures made of something like a clockwork mechanism but the book does not revolve around making up steam powered mechanical alternatives to household items, or hot air balloons, or ether powered guns.

This part of the story is a travelogue that ends at the destination. Our heros travel by horse and mule, and fight with knife and sword. This book is the bonding part of of an unlikely troop on an unlikely mission . While the trope is familiar, the story is original The next book I expect will get into the fulfillment of their mission.

In this time of cookie cutter bloodletting fantasy, sure is nice to find a fantasy with a story; a story that's actually intriguing with interesting characters and fantastical happenings that don't blow readers out of the book, too disbelieving to enjoy the story. Not to say there isn't a fair share of bloodletting.

Looking forward to the sequel.

6 people found this helpful

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fun book

I always give a book five stars if I like enjoyed it. I dont have any deep insights. The reader did a good job and the story was enjoyable but it is just the first book. I wouldn't say this is a cliff hanger by any means but the story is unfinished and I look forward to reading the rest of it.

6 people found this helpful

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Too slow

If T. Kingfisher wrote The Lord of the Rings, Frodo wouldn't have left the Shire before the end of the 3rd book. Clockwork Boys consists of so many detail with so little importance. Like a long segment of how they couldn't get of their horses. It was so slow that started day-dreaming about other stuff while listening. And I really liked the books premise. The undertaking and the mysterious clockwork boys are great. The writing sentence by sentence is also good. But it's just so many details which should have been left out. The result is a really slow paced book. I lasted 2,5 hours before I had to stop.

15 people found this helpful

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    3 out of 5 stars
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“Oh well!”

I LOVED the idea of this book! Loved the character development. Loved the protagonist. But honest to god, get a thesaurus!! I can’t tell you how many times this author says “Oh well!”. It became unbearable. And when I found myself saying it before the narrator I returned the book. It’s just so repetitive and the author just beats you to death with how clever they are. Every single scene and scenario is laced and sometimes drenched in snarky humor. Not everything has to be funny. You don’t have to follow every thought with “Well, we’re all gonna die anyway so screw it!”. Say. Something. Else. Please!!

3 people found this helpful

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    3 out of 5 stars
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    3 out of 5 stars

It’s Fellowship of the Ring-but fun & more roguish

Pros: “I don’t snore, but I do gibber in tongues”
💥Fun gathering of ne’er-do-wells who embark on a Suicide Squad-like mission, only with a magic tattoo instead of an explosive in the head to keep their leader in check.
💥A little comedy, action, adventure, and romance (or at least, lotta sexual innuendo) … reminded me a bit like Princess Bride with scoundrel heroes and pithy comments in times of peril.
💥Each character is unique, flawed, and snarky, brought to fabulous life by narrator Hvam.
Her demon rendition? Genius!
💥There’s some great concepts in this world, from the clockwork soldiers, to the blight, to demons inhabiting people, and wonder engines.

Cons: “pricklier than a cactus with a rash”
☹️This is merely Act I, where the band gets together and becomes a team (of sorts) during their journey to accomplish an impossible quest. Seriously, the whole book is just the journey. There is no big climax. No huge action scenes. Not even a whiff of a penultimate battle.
☹️Those great concepts? They are frustratingly rough sketches, without enough detail or explanation to get past merely interesting and truly bring this world to life.
☹️ It bears repeating: This is act I, really just half a book, and as such I’d wait until you can buy both on sale and listen back to back.

1 person found this helpful

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Another Win

Excellent story my the author. Love the world building. Slow burn with character developement. Author not afraid to use very flawed people.

1 person found this helpful

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Pretty good start to a romance, but not great

I love most of T Kingfisher's books, but this one fell a little flat for me. I think it's because there's a little over-reflection for my tastes (You know, when you're constantly hearing both sides of internal monologues, without much actually happening)

Don't get me wrong, this book does go places, and the characters have some great adventures, but then a good 20 pages are spent with both main characters mentally reacting to those adventures in great detail that makes the book feel a little slow at times.

She also uses a few basic romance novel cliches that felt like they didn't quite fit here, because she definitely wrote a premise for some unique cool characters, but then they started doing things that don't make sense for their characters. Like rival men throwing away all reason in order to have a fight about their pride, and needing the woman to break it up.

As spoiler light as I can manage, but the scene where: Not 5 minutes after escaping from a couple near-death experiences, and then the paladin gets mad at the assassin for killing a bad person, but not doing it right for some reason? And they're about to fight about it while enemies are still close by? These characters have already shown way more sense than this previously, It felt like it was thrown in just so the female could get exasperated at them and make them stop, and provide some more opportunity for reflection.

But, besides that quibble, it was still a fun adventure about a party on a cool suicide mission, and the group dynamics they had to deal with on the way. I haven't read the second book yet, and Kingfisher is such a strong writer that I have no doubt the second book will have a satisfying conclusion.

The voice actor did a great job reading it, I had no complaints with that.

1 person found this helpful

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Great fantasy and different from most!

Looking forward to the rest of the series! Can't help but root for the odd group to accomplish what they set out to do.

1 person found this helpful

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Loved It

Seriously, this is a great story. Really fleshed out, interesting characters. Realized dialogue, fascinating plot. I loved this book.

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  • BarbaraM
  • 07-24-21

Disappointing

Slapstick and juvenile. You can’t trust reviews unless you know who is doing the reviewing. I am guessing younger Teens who enjoy the snarky and superficial. This is obviously the first part of a serialised tale. Everything was left mysteriously unfinished and unexplained. The narrator has an unfortunately whiny voice, perhaps trying to have the characters sound like moaning teenagers, but I found it unpleasant.
I won’t be looking for any more of this authors work.

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  • daniel
  • 07-28-19

Great first part, but short.

Was surprised at the length of book 1 but enjoyed enough that I've already bought book 2

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    5 out of 5 stars
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  • Xiao-Jia Ng
  • 07-26-19

Does not shame the author's ancestors

A great story, touching and funny. the performance adds a great touch with the demonic gibbering.