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Clockworld: The Iron City

By: Ben Myatt
Narrated by: Luke Hannafin
Length: 12 hrs and 31 mins
4 out of 5 stars (11 ratings)

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Publisher's Summary

The Iron City has stood for thousands of years, but now, dark forces move within her metal walls to bring down her royal family and subjugate her people. Princess Aldreia, heir to the throne, must join with the peasant tunnel-runner mouse to battle against the threats against her city and protect her birthright!

From the darkest cellars of the city Underworks to the skies around its tiers, the battle for the Iron City has begun!

©2018 Ben Myatt (P)2019 Ben Myatt

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    5 out of 5 stars
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Loved It

From the depths of the dark impoverished underground, a special gem named Mouse is found. While most people of the underground rely on illegal ways of life, Mouse is known for his exceptional skills as a tunnel runner and a fixer; and he prides himself on not being a criminal. When he’s thrust into the upper levels of the citadel in search of answers, everyone just assumes he’s lost or up to no good like the rest of the underground, but Mouse is special.

Imagine a steam punk setting with a hint of magic tossed in. Strange men that look more machine than man are commonplace. Exotic old machines are everywhere. A poor kid from the streets goes from trying to survive the daily grind of the underground to trying to stay alive and solve the mystery of his strange new discoveries he’s apart of, almost connected to, alongside a mix of people that would not ordinarily give him the time of day.

It’s a great story, Very original, and right up my alley. I had a great time imagining the scenes the author sets forth for you, very descriptive. The narrator does an excellent job with inflection, characters, and reading clearly overall. Great job narrating and great job imagining and transferring this story to paper by the author.

I would read again for sure.

This book was given to me for free at my request and I provided this voluntary review.

2 of 2 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars
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    4 out of 5 stars

Fantasy and Steampunk

This sort of book is up my street and the author did not disappoint. The characters were interesting and so was the plot. It reminded me a little of Abigail the movie.
This is for those that love steampunk mixed in with fantasy.

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    4 out of 5 stars
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Fun story

The characters and story were good, and that's why we read books. I agree that the narration wasn't... ideal, but I think the fact that I listened to it on 2x helped me get used to it quickly. I think the problem isn't that the narrator is bad in his own right, more so that we have so many examples that are AMAZING that this is just... ok.

The book is fun, though. Definitely check it out.

I was given this book for free in exchange for an honest review.

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    4 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars

A very good story with an OK narration...

It's 3.5 for the narration, really, but as there are no half-stars available, I have to stick with 3...

It's my first meeting with Ben Myatt and it's a good one:) "The Iron City"is a fast-paced fantasy with a very well built world, quite unique when it comes to the mechanics of it; I like the idea of the whole city being really a giant clock and the descriptions are detailed enough for me to imagine every nook and cranny vividly... The main characters feel real; they have strong personalities, they show real emotions and react naturally to whatever comes their way. And although it's the first part of a longer series, it has a satisfactory ending and can be read as a complete novel, with an opening for a continuation:)

Narration by Luke Hannafin is generally OK; I liked the speed of his reading and some voices were really well-done, others, however, were a bit irritating. The one that I didn't like at all was Mouse's voice - it jarred with this particular character's personality so much... Mouse is a courageous, no-nonsense, sensible character, but he sounded like a squeaking, weak, cowardly brat... And also, I got confused more than once while listening; there are no indications in the narration when the action moves from one place to another - sometimes miles away. We just "jump" from a talk between one set of characters in the palace to a description of what is happening in the tunnels in one smooth sentence, with the narrator not even taking a break for a comma or a full stop. Each time that happened I needed a second or two to realize who was talking to whom and where they were... I think a short pause in the narration would have helped a lot to "unconfuse" me :)
But as I said, generally it's an OK interpretation of the book and I wouldn't mind listening to another book read by Mr Hannafin.

DISCLAIMER: I was given this free review copy audiobook at my request and have voluntarily left this review

  • Overall
    2 out of 5 stars
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    3 out of 5 stars

Decent concept but...

I didn't particularly enjoy this book and I think the vast majority of my dislike was down to the audio and narrator. I am a big fan of fantasy and steampunk is a great sub-genre when done well, and the concept of this book is good, but honestly, I was not pulled into this world as much as I would have liked, which is a shame as I was looking forward to this.

The storyline/plot is decent but feels like it needs a good edit. I enjoyed the aspect of the city being centred round a giant clock and the mystery of its origins, and there was a fair amount of action.

The main things that really irked me however comes down to the dialogue and tha narration. Firstly, the narration. Hannafin is appalling at doing different voices and accents. Reading the prose generally he is fine but the attempts at dialogue are incredibly off-putting. Mouse sounds like the narrator actually pictured Mickey Mouse and puts on a squeaky type voice. One of the characters sounds like a caricuture of a 40s-era style gangster. Not in a cool James Cagney way either.
Also, one character has a lisp - that was a mistake as far too difficult to listen to. It's been done successfully in other (audio)books before, but in this one it was not done well at all. Also seems like the author has purposely chosen as many ess sounding or ess heavy words on purpose which makes the narration of this character all the more infuriating and really grates. No one wants incessant hissing in their ear.

Secondly, the dialogue. There are far too many adverbs used to describe how people speak that it starts to grate. More so as the adverb used is not how it has been acted/voiced out by the narrator. For example, ..."he said sourly"; ..."she said acidly"; ..."[he] said mildly"; ..."he said flatly", etc.
I started to write down each one I came across as the book wore on: "bluntly", "critically", "courteously", "wryly", "darkly", "sweetly", "sourly", "hotly", "calmly", cagely", "tiredly", "softly", "grimly", "angrily". There were others, and these were all repeated extensively to the point that they lost any meaning to me., particularly "acidly".

Decent concept, but I did not enjoy the narration of this book. I think if I were to read it in physical format however I would have enjoyed it more, even with all the 'acid' like speech.

I was given this free review copy audiobook at my request via Audioboom and have voluntarily left this review.

  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars
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Steam and spirits

** I received a free review copy of this book in exchange for an unbiased review, My review has not been coerced or influence

There really isn't enough quality steampunk, Fortunately this really is quite good. The setting is quite a bit different from most steampunk which is normally some variation of alternate history Victorian Era Earth where some scientist usually Babbage and/or Tesla made some extreme breakthrough and science runs amok.

That is not this, This is a unique original setting, where people live in an ancient giant city entirely constructed of steam and gears. People go about their daily lives almost oblivious to the oddity that is all around them. They never asked themselves why the machine city is there or what it was built to do, They probably should have.

It's important to note that the advanced machinery is also slightly psychic, they are controlled by crystals that house mental patterns and allow for complex coordination.

So our main characters, a street boy called Mouse, who is kind of a hard bitten sly rogue, and a Ria the crown princess who is a bit of rebel and it turns out badass with a spear, are both descended from a group of people called the Makers, they are referred to mostly in vague terms throughout the book, and are somehow said to have created the most advanced tech. Well it turns out that they do this in part by being able to communicate on subconscious and sometimes conscious level with the sentiences stored in crystals. This lets them understand machines better than anyone else.

There are a handful of other interesting characters such as Marius is a political hostage and scholar that lives at the palace and is probably the most interesting of the secondary cast, And of course there are some cookie cutter background character that show up to remind you of the tropes like the occasional sniveling noble who say something catty or want some political favor

Meanwhile there is a religious group with a splinter cell that reveres the machines and attempts to emulate their god, by mechanizing themselves. Naturally when they discover a boy with supernatural mechanic skills they they plot and murder to get there hands on him,

Without going into details about the plot, The storytelling is pretty sharp it has a frantic pulpy feel, like the characters are always running against deadlines and sometimes things are happening in different places simultaneously making the action sometimes feel faster or give a break between tense moments, Mostly the characters motivations are pretty simple and other Mouse, and Marius most characters aren't overly complex but I don't really think the story need it all that much.

The narrator, isn't terrible, but I think he's probably inexperienced. First there is the audio quality itself, there is a minor constant sort of echoing like he's reading in an empty room with hardwood floors, it's minor enough that while listening after a few minutes you don't notice it but if you stop and start a couple times each time you do it becomes obvious again for a few minutes.
Next, all of his pacing is just a bit slower than I would like. He seems very deliberate and careful while reading in a way that doesn't seem to quite match up with the tone of the story.
And lastly, this might not be the narrators but there is a character Marius who is described as having a somewhat sibilant lisp, perhaps the dialogue text has it spelled out in such a way the narrators reading might be accurate, but the amount of hissing used for his dialogue seems gratuitous

Overall I can fairly strongly recommend this book, qualms with the audio included it was engaging and fun as well as something just different enough to really make it stand out.

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    3 out of 5 stars
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Not a bad steampunky, book.

~3.5 stars. I initially wasn't very into this books setting, characters, etc. As the book progressed, I became more invested into the storyline and I think that I ended up enjoying the book quite a bit. There are a few things that I would recommend the author to improve upon. The book did well at keeping me interested and not feeling sluggish at points where there was less conflict occurring. I think that several elements were adopted from other famous works without properly making them fit that took away from the story. Examples like characters saying "By the old Gods and the new" and "What in the seven hells" are phrases that I recognize from ASOIAF, but don't make since in this story (what old Gods and what new Gods are they talking about?).

This could be more of a preference, but I would have liked more world building and understanding what the world looked like, how everyone (not just in the cities mentioned) live, other religious beliefs, etc. I was also interested in learning more about how the technology functions, which I hope will be covered in later novels. I definitely see potential in this series being quite good.

On another note, and this could also just be personal preference, I think the narrator almost ruined this book. One of the main reasons I was having trouble getting into this book was the narrator. I didn't find his normal reading voice that appealing. I felt he also had trouble conveying the emotion of the situation and characters in the entire novel. Some of his voices were somewhat ridiculous (such as a certain Queen's Paw that sounded like Batman), and sometimes he would slip out of a character's voice while speaking, or forgetting to speak with that character's voice that confused me at parts.

Overall, I would likely read the next book in the series, hoping that the author continues to improve in writing quality.

Also, I received this book for free, and that in no way influenced my review.

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Profile Image for Andy
  • Andy
  • 09-10-19

Intriguing scifi

Disclaimer: I received a free copy of the audiobook from the narrator, in exchange for an honest, unbiased review.
Further disclaimer: Since it was an audiobook, this review probably mis-spells several character names.
“Clockworld: The Iron City” by Ben Myatt introduces us to Mouse, a “tunnel runner” who lives in the crime-ridden underworks beneath a metal city build around a giant clock tower, earning a living of sorts doing odd repair jobs. The origin and purpose of the clock is lost in the mists of time, and a cult has sprung up around the “Church of the Cog” and their sinister Clockmen. Mouse has attracted the interest of the Clockmen, and this is not a good thing.
Meanwhile, several tiers above, Princess Reya is more interested in studying the Clock and its origins than learning about her Royal duties. But the Clockmen are interested in Reya too, and inevitably, Mouse and Reya are destined to be thrown together to try to escape from the machinations of the Church and save the city and their families and friends.
I was immediately drawn to the setting of the story – the different tiers of the city, the machinery, the airships and of course the clock itself are brought vividly to life and I was keen to learn more about how and why they came to be there, and how they worked. The story delivers in this regard and also takes us out into the world beyond the city via the airships and barges.
The characters are well-drawn, and the dialogue is interspersed through with sharp humour. Whilst Reya and Mouse are the main characters, there is a varied supporting cast from the Queen and her spies, Marius a foreign nobleman, through to a crime boss and his offspring, and Helise the spirit of a tree, who is in charge of the airship. By the end of the book you have a feeling that a “Scooby Gang” has been assembled for ongoing adventures.
Luke Hannafin’s narration was good, except I found Marius’ sibilant “sss” sounds offputting (but the author wrote it that way so who am I to argue!) also since the author is British, and many of the characters (particularly in the underworks) use British slang phrases, hearing these voiced by an American narrator sounded odd.
The book could do with a bit of an edit for a number of occasions where a word is mis-used, for example “detrius” instead of “detritus” or “weapontry” instead of “weaponry”. I don’t know if this is due to the writing or the narration. It doesn’t really detract from the story though.
The story builds via a thrilling action sequence to a satisfying conclusion but clearly marks the way forward for the next book. It was an engrossing listen and although I did learn a lot about the city and the Clock, there is more to discover, and I look forward to the next one.

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Profile Image for Kierun
  • Kierun
  • 05-22-19

A good steampunk novel.

Disclaimer: I was gifted a copy of the audio book by Ben Myatt. No strings were attached to this gift and this review is what I genuinely feel about the book. This review appeared on Reddit first.

This is not a book I would have picked by myself. The blurb contain way too many tropes that I loath in fantasy: a young princess trying to save her kingdom, a young downtrodden class with special abilities to save the world, and thousands of years old societies…

Would I have missed on a good book? Yes, I would have. I like the book.

The book is very much post apocalypse steampunk, starting fairly light and slowly moving into darker waters. Some of the scenes, while not going into much details of what is happening, are quiet harrowing.

All the characters are engaging, well fleshed out, and develop in interesting and unexpected ways. While some romantic parts felt a little wooden, some were really well executed and nicely pervert tropes. Characters' idiosyncrasies are such that they are all easily imagined and vivid. I was a little disappointed that the main character did not use their old skill to solve a problem, instead relying on a newly acquired one but the story does not suffer for it.

A refreshing and well executed aspect of the plot is that research, and reasoning feature prominently: the characters research, reason, and extrapolate based on what information they can gather, not on exposition after finding a McGuffin. There is even nice foreshadowing in there… Since this is spoiler free, I cannot say more. It is refreshing to see scholars actually do their job and not be a vehicle for plot dumping.

The setting is slowly revealed through the characters' journey, and there are no giant info dump. The Iron City feels alive, a character in its own right, slowly revealing its secrets and purpose. It is easy to imagine the different aspects of it and how people live there.

Oh, and the book has air ships… What can go wrong with airships? Nothing, that's what! ☺

There are weaknesses in the book: The bad guys are so bad, whatever happens to them is justifiable and fair. And the good guys never over step. The antagonists' motivations are not really well explored past being fanatically power hungry. The time frame of the plot is very short for everything that happens there and some of the characters do adjust to utterly new situations way faster than I think they should. The criminal underworld feels a little too "noble thieves". This could be biased from reading this after Don Winslow's The Border -- all about Mexican Drug Cartels and the War On Drugs.

A lot of things are left unsaid, some to be answered in future books I hope, some to be left unsaid I hope! Clearly, the book is a first part of something greater and is a "how the party gets together". This is no bad thing. I will certainly be getting the next one.

Since this was an audio book, I should mention that Luke Hannafin, the narrator, does a great job of it. I was a little taken back by the echo in the narration but it could have been my player's equalizers fault. In any case, it gave the reading a sense of being done within a great Iron City which really works. Luke Hannafin's voice is easy to listen to, his different renditions of characters differentiate them easily, and his pacing is spot on.

Finally, I would like to thank Ben Myatt (/u/Bendanarama) for giving me the opportunity of reading his fine book.