Series: Burton & Swinburne #2
Published by Pyr on March 22, 2011
Genres: Adult SFF
My Reviews in this series: The Strange Affair of Spring Heeled Jack
*This book was provided by the Publisher for review. No compensation was provided and all opinions are strictly my own.
It is 1862, though not the 1862 it should be. . . .
Time has been altered, and Sir Richard Francis Burton, the king’s agent, is one of the few people who know that the world is now careening along a very different course from that which Destiny intended.
When a clockwork-powered man of brass is found abandoned in Trafalgar Square, Burton and his assistant, the wayward poet Algernon Swinburne, find themselves on the trail of the stolen Garnier Collection—black diamonds rumored to be fragments of the Lemurian Eye of Naga, a meteorite that fell to Earth in prehistoric times.
His investigation leads to involvement with the media sensation of the age: the Tichborne Claimant, a man who insists that he’s the long lost heir to the cursed Tichborne estate. Monstrous, bloated, and monosyllabic, he’s not the aristocratic Sir Roger Tichborne known to everyone, yet the working classes come out in force to support him. They are soon rioting through the streets of London, as mysterious steam wraiths incite all-out class warfare.
From a haunted mansion to the Bedlam madhouse, from South America to Australia, from séances to a secret labyrinth, Burton struggles with shadowy opponents and his own inner demons, meeting along the way the philosopher Herbert Spencer, Isambard Kingdom Brunel, Florence Nightingale, and Charles Doyle (father of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle).
Can the king’s agent expose a plot that threatens to rip the British Empire apart, leading to an international conflict the like of which the world has never seen? And what part does the clockwork man have to play?
Burton and Swinburne’s second adventure—The Curious Case of the Clockwork Man—is filled with eccentric steam-driven technology, grotesque characters, and a deepening mystery that pushes forward the three-volume story arc begun in The Strange Affair of Spring Heeled Jack.
The Curious Case of the Clockwork Man (hereafter Clockwork Man), book number two in the Burton & Swinburne series, delivers on all levels. Love, action, conversation, world-building and AWESOME COVER ART! So then pick up this series! The read the first book, The Strange-Affair of Spring-heeled Jack, which I reviewed and gave the coveted 5-star award. I immediately moved onto book number 2, Clockwork Man and I duly got into my steampunk duds and hopped in! Like Spring-heeled Jack, Clockwork Man delivers in spades.
The characters in this series are so alluring and interesting. I wish I was a tenth as interesting as many of the characters you run across in these stories. The gadgets are explained in a way to make it interesting and not overly technical. I can get a grip on how something works, without having to read the blueprint, if you catch my drift.
The alternate world Victorian England is an fabulous idea as well, and a great twist to give some liberties with the actual historical characters who dot the stories. Oscar Wilde the paper boy! Florence Nightingale, in love with Brunel. =) What a world! Eugenicists (geneticists), technologists and rakes compete for the greater good of the English Empire. My favorite part of this possible timeline is that there doesn’t look to be a waning in the power of the British Empire. Ever wonder what might have happened had England supported the South in the American civil war? In Clockwork Man, the possibility is raised and that theme may be visited in book 3, Expedition to the Mountains of the Moon!
The parts I loved about Spring-Heeled Jack are all present in this book. These books should be read in order, as this book felt to be a continuation of a story with its own arc and nemesis but the major theme is constant and needs to be read from the beginning in order for the full impact of the story to be understood. This story had no romance in it at all, which I found to be disappointing. Sir Richard Burton is a dashing figure, and I hope that he finds many many romances to satisfy
my… his needs. =) Thank you Mark Hodder! This series is so cool. I am loving it. If you haven’t picked up this series yet, you are missing out!