Angelmaker
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Angelmaker

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4.0 of 5 stars 4.00  ·  rating details  ·  3,852 ratings  ·  838 reviews
A Wall Street Journal and Booklist Best Mystery of 2012

From the acclaimed author of The Gone-Away World, blistering gangster noir meets howling absurdist comedy as the forces of good square off against the forces of evil, and only an unassuming clockwork repairman and an octogenarian former superspy can save the world from total destruction.

Joe Spork spends his days fixin...more
Hardcover, 482 pages
Published March 20th 2012 by Alfred A. Knopf (first published January 1st 2012)
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Community Reviews

(showing 1-30 of 3,000)
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Megan Baxter
This book is crazy. It is all over the place. And yet it hangs together, better than I thought Harkaway's previous book The Gone Away World did. I enjoyed The Gone Away World even though I didn't think the story, in the end, quite jelled. This one did, and I loved it.

Note: The rest of this review has been withdrawn due to the changes in Goodreads policy and enforcement. You can read why I came to this decision here.

In the meantime, you can read the entire review at Smorgasbook
Paul 'Pezski' Perry
I usually only mark as to-read books I own, but on seeing that Nick Harkaway has a second novel due out there is absolutely no doubt I'm going to read it. No pressure, but The Gone-Away World was not only one of the best debuts I've ever read, but one of my all time favorite books.
Carol. [All cynic, all the time]
I opened Angelmaker with high expectations. I enjoyed The Gone-Away World a great deal, and admired the blend of characterization, humor, and social commentary with a solid underlying concept. While those elements are in place for Angelmaker, it was a struggle to read until it gained momentum halfway through.

It has been a challenge to figure out why, but I think at heart, the beginning reads a little like a collection of short stories or vignettes, which makes the thriller plotting drag. There i...more
Clouds

Following the resounding success of my Locus Quest, I faced a dilemma: which reading list to follow it up with? Variety is the spice of life, so I’ve decided to diversify and pursue six different lists simultaneously. This book falls into my GIFTS AND GUILTY list.

Regardless of how many books are already queued patiently on my reading list, unexpected gifts and guilt-trips will always see unplanned additions muscling their way in at the front.


I have a friend called Justin (true story); a crazy,...more
paula
I wish I could write the review this book deserves, as Nick Harkaway (not his real name) wrote the review that Neal Stephenson's Reamd deserved - the one I was in the process of writing in my head. Stephenson's book was an action novel taken to absurd lengths, a nonstop global car/boat/bike chase firefight populated by real characters, most of whom you had to fall in love with. Ergo, I think it's no coincidence that Harkaway (still not his real name) felt he had some solid ground upon which to s...more
Ben Babcock
It would be tempting to say that Joe Spork lived a quiet, unremarkable life until he was pulled into an attempt to stop a mad South Asian dictator from unleashing a 1950s clockwork doomsday device by a retired octogenarian super-spy named Edie Banister. Tempting, but not quite accurate, since Joe is the son of the infamous Matthew “Tommy Gun” Spork, who kept fashionable crime and the honourable lifestyle of the gangster alive long after it should have faded into obscurity. Joe has turned his bac...more
David
Jan 02, 2014 David rated it 4 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition Recommends it for: lesbian James Bonds, sons of clockmakers who have to stop apocalyptic bees
Having enjoyed Nick Harkaway's debut novel, The Gone-Away World, very much, I looked forward enormously to Angelmaker, hoping to find a similar spirit of gung-ho up-against-it little people against a big evil world, with extra ninjas and doomsday weapons.

And he delivered. And the only reason I am giving this 4 stars instead of 5 is that he delivered pretty much the same package.

Nick Harkaway has a definite style, a very recognizable style, dialog full of clever banter and witty asides with even...more
Jason
5 Stars

While I am giving this book full marks I cannot help but feel like I was let down or that Angelmakers was missing that extra something. The Gone Away World, Nick Harkaway’s debut novel, was my favorite read of the year, on my all time favorite list, and one that I continually think about rereading. This book, his sophomore novel, has some very high points, is written extremely well, but to me it is missing the magic that I found throughout his first book. That being said, my expectations...more
Michael
Joe Spork is the son of an infamous gangster “Tommy Gun” Spork, trying to live a quiet life fixing antique clocks. His plans were uprooted when he finds an unusual clockwork mechanism. Turns out that device is a doomsday machine and Joe has triggered it. Now Joe Spork has to face the wrath of both the British government and the diabolical villain Shem Shem Tsien. Angelmaker is an adventure unlike anything I’ve read before, featuring a mystery involving Joe Spork and his quest to stop the evil vi...more
Joshua
I'm torn on this one. For every dazzling section that Nick Harkaway writes that is cool, unpredictable, lively and just awesome, he then writes a section that is meandering, show-offy and self-indulgent. It's too bad that he can't harness the greatness more often as this would be an epic entertainment involving a wide assortment of characters and action. But, he can't do that, as he goes on way too many off-shoots that slow the pacing and are just not needed. There is a re-occurring theme I have...more
Chris
Anglemaker is Neal Stephenson by way of P.G. Wodehouse. Or perhaps the other way around.

Rarely have I read a book so thoroughly enjoyable. Is it a "Great Work"? Perhaps not. But it is "art". I suppose some would say it's merely an adventure story. It is, but it's told with such wit and verve that I almost couldn't put it down. Mr. Harkaway so clearly loves his characters (even the bad ones) that they leap off the pages and demand that you acknowledge them.

The plot of the story is straightforwar...more
RandomAnthony
Sorry, Mr. Harkaway, I'm not finishing Angelmaker. I'm going two stars with a couple hundred pages left, full disclosure. While well-written in spurts, and with an interesting end of the world premise, Angelmaker reads like a book that's trying too hard and knows a little too much about how to insert cliches. Mysterious fat guy/skinny guy pairing? Check. Kind of hot but not taking any shit from the main character girl? Check. Goofy criminal friend getting the main character in trouble? Check. So...more
Rick F.
"From the acclaimed author of The Gone-Away World, blistering gangster noir meets howling absurdist comedy as the forces of good square off against the forces of evil, and only an unassuming clockwork repairman and an octogenarian former superspy can save the world from total destruction.

Joe Spork spends his days fixing antique clocks. The son of infamous London criminal Mathew “Tommy Gun” Spork, he has turned his back on his family’s mobster history and aims to live a quiet life. That orderly...more
TheBookSmugglers
I was supposed to have written a review of Nick Harkaway’s Angelmaker for Kirkus last week but I just couldn’t finish the book.

In principle, I should have loved this – heck, I had hoped Angelmaker would be so good it would even feature on my top 10 this year. It’s an outlandish Literary Fantasy novel featuring automata, London-based gangsters, World War II shenanigans and espionage with a plot to destroy the world using clockwork bees.

But an extremely bloated plot with obnoxiously verbose descri...more
Colin Taylor
Sep 09, 2013 Colin Taylor rated it 2 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Colin by: colin.john.taylor@gmail.com
I'm really not sure where to begin with Angelmaker, a tale of clockwork bees, antique WMDs, monastic orders and London criminals. Without doubt, Nick Harkaway has an incredibly active and vivid imagination, one that he uses to build a fantastic world of antiquity predominantly set in the present day. Also without doubt is Nick Harkaways love of language, which is evident from his often ever-so-slightly self-indulgent floral prose, and his propensity to write dialogue involving characters who hav...more
William Thomas
I'm a sucker for a great cover. The old adage about not judging only applies in its metaphoric sense. Anything with a phenomenal graphic design like 'Angelmaker' will make me wet myself with all of the aesthetic pleasure to be had. Reading the book is a very secondary pleasure. I collect books sometimes just for the cover and let them sit around the house as decration. The premiise of 'Angelmaker' was so intriguing that I didn't do the usual 'let-the-new-book-sit-around-for-3-years-before-I-read...more
Rob
Nick Harkaway is a puzzle. Does he write above his material, or below it? By his "his material" do I mean his ludicrous, pulpy, indulgent stories, or do I mean the joyous sense of humanity, camaraderie and good humor with which he tells them? Which of these is more fundamental?

In his very perceptive review of Harkaway's debut, The Gone-Away World, Jonathan McCalmont pinpoints what is offputting about Harkaway's characters:

When Master Wu dies, for example, we are expected to feel sadness and, to...more
Kim
This is a quite a strange book. It starts out as a mystery involving a mild-mannered clockmaker and it evolves and transforms through a World War II spy story, a bizarre psychoanalytical section and finally 50's/60's-style England gangster.

While it wasn't very engaging at first it slowly picked up steam especially once I got to Edie's back story. From there the story propelled on through twists and turns to the good, but inevitable, ending. Joe was a great character as he went through a transfor...more
Amanda
If Dickens wrote a romp-a-liscous techno-mystery (and used less semi-colons), it would be this book. London's seedy but charming criminal underbelly! Bogart style gangster romance! World War II spy chases! VERY BAD BAD GUYS! This is the most fun you'll have reading all year.
Sara
If you enjoy the way words can roll around and reassemble in marvelous and unexpected ways, read Angelmaker. Harkaway makes me happy to read. So few people write sentences that make me stop in wonder at their beauty. Just watching the phrases, feeling pleasure at the way the words are coming off the page and floating in my head.

The story is good, if occasionally lost in the meandering of words well used. When you enjoy the use of words, it's probably best not to use a non-linear time line. The...more
J.P.
This could have been called A Chip Off the Old Block since the author is the son of John Le Carré. And a tip of the hat to Nick Harkaway for not using that to gain publicity.
The acorn does not fall far from the tree as they say so you might think this is all about spies, but this is one of those novels that’s impossible to attach a brief label to. An intriguing blend of steam punk, spies and gangsters, this is a complex, gritty book that developed quickly into an engaging read.
Joe Spork is liv...more
Bandit
Nick Harkaway took his time coming up with a sophomore novel and reading Angelmaker one can really see why. By its sheer magnitude and range and the time it took to read (entire day with pauses for food and such, this is not the book to skim, there is too much going on) this was an epic. Good book is the one that has the basic elements and structural arcs and archetypes and utilizes them well. Great book is the one that has it all and then some and makes them sing, literally all the things you...more
Joyce
What a great book to listen to--not certain how far I would have got reading it, but Daniel Weyman just swept me up and never stopped. Part of the listener's pleasure is in recognizing his pleasure in immersing us in this wonderful romp. The book is a steampunk SF spy thriller adventure and that's just for classification. It's Joe Spork clockmaker's journey of self-discovery, elderly super spy and vamp Edie Banister's magical tale, and a wonderfully imaginative, swashbuckling adventure with the...more
Anmiryam
An inventive intricate bit of literary stew. Harkaway's novel reads like a comic spy thriller, a tour through Peter Ackroyd's and Charles Dickens's London replete with honorable thieves and evil government operatives, a steampunk comic without the pictures, and a P.G. Woodehouse romp all nicely marinated and cooked to tender perfection. Can our hapless hero, Joshua Joseph Spork, a meek and law abiding clockmaker, manage to avert the end of the world? Or will he, and everyone else, meet an untime...more
Michael
A madcap mongrel hybrid of Gaiman Neil (Neverwhere, again), China Miéville, and - especially - GW Dahlquist. Trains, gangsters, strange machinery, spies, a secret plan to transform and/or destroy the world, etc and very etc. All very rococo and rollicking.

Ideally it would all snap together elegantly like one of the clockwork contraptions Harkaway so clearly loves. Unfortunately it rather spirals out of control instead. There are bits of plot mechanic flying all over the place by the end, and no...more
Everyday eBook
Nick Harkaway’s Angelmaker: Steampunk, Spies, and a Doomsday Device

Slate recently compared Joe Spork, the protagonist of Nick Harkaway’s ripping spy novel Angelmaker, to The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy’s Arthur Dent and Neverwhere’s Richard Mayhew. Accurate comparisons, both. Like its spiritual predecessors, Angelmaker is a breezy read in spite of its intricate plot, which concerns a mild-mannered clockmaker (the son of one of London’s most infamous gentleman gangsters) who unwittingly trig...more
Victoria
This book was one that sounded so interesting from its description. I wasn't sure what to expect, but "noir" is not an accurate description that the publisher applied. It is more of an urban pseudo-fantasy, set in a sort of steampunk-version of London, and this is a genre that simply does not hold much appeal to me. There are moments when the story and its characters utterly sucked me in - especially Bastion the pug, but the style of the novel as a whole just couldn't captivate me. The meanderin...more
Lea
Oh my goodness. I should have LOVED this book -- and there was a lot about it that I really did like. But the length of it, my god, the length. The story goes back and forth between World War II and the present day -- while the backstory provided by the historical segments was necessary, it was all just too damn long, and it pushed me past my breaking point. So much so that I was literally struggling to finish the book by the final few pages -- pages that, under normal circumstances, would leave...more
Irena
First, this book is marvellously written. It follows two sets of events - the present belonging to our hero, Joshua Joseph Spork, and the past belonging to Edie Banister, now a ninety year old former spy. Their individual chapters switch until they come to a point where they become one extraordinary story. Some of them end in cliffhanger which would have annoyed me to no end if Joe or Edie hadn't been equally interesting.

Joe Spork promised his father, a criminal genius, not to be like him and he...more
Michelle Burkhart
I'm a total evangelist for The Gone-Away World, so I can't wait to see what Nick Harkaway does next.
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1100593
Nick Harkaway was born in Cornwall, UK in 1972. He is possessed of two explosively exciting eyebrows, which exert an almost hypnotic attraction over small children, dogs, and - thankfully - one ludicrously attractive human rights lawyer, to whom he is married.

He likes: oceans, mountains, lakes, valleys, and those little pigs made of marzipan they have in Switzerland at new year.

He does not like: b...more
More about Nick Harkaway...
The Gone-Away World Edie Investigates The Blind Giant Doctor Who: Keeping Up with the Joneses (Time Trips) Tigerman

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“And don't tell me the end justifies the means because it doesn't. We never reach the end. All we ever get is means. That's what we live with.” 14 likes
“I love you forever. I am sorry I cannot love you now.” 13 likes
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