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.
Clockwork Boys and The Wonder Engine are really two halves of a single whole, neither stands alone. So, I’m going to review them as one.
I was supposed to read something else this week, but I have fallen into a T. Kingfisher hole and I can’t seem to get out. I’ve read four of their books in as many days. I am almost literally inhaling them because I’m having so much fun her Kingfisher’s writing style. I admit that I didn’t love this duology quite as much as Paladin’s Grace or Swordheart, but not quite as much is still quite a lot.
There is just a underlying kindness to Kingfisher’s characters, even the ostensibly criminally heartless ones like we have here. I laugh a lot and appreciate that the characters are diverse and allowed to be any number of unexpected things—older, unattractive, have allergies, non dominant demographics in a variety of ways, etc.
I did think the Clocktaur War series was a little slow at times, it takes quite a long time to get going in the beginning, for example. And I thought they defeated their un-defeatable foe a little too easily and then just breezed on to other problems. But all in all, I want more and more and more.