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Gears of the City (Thunderer #2)

3.77  ·  Rating Details ·  292 Ratings  ·  33 Reviews
In this stunning follow-up to his acclaimed debut, Thunderer, Felix Gilman’s brave hero returns from one thrilling and dangerous quest only to confront another. In a magical landscape where time is meaningless, reality precarious, and countless selves work toward countless possible futures, one man must seek a city’s truth—and rediscover his own.

Imprisoned with a propheti
Hardcover, 464 pages
Published December 30th 2008 by Spectra (first published 2008)
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Reborn by Susan SontagRorschach's Ribs by Marcus EderGears of the City by Felix GilmanRock Chick by Kristen AshleyThe Tales of Beedle the Bard by J.K. Rowling
Best books of December, 2008
3rd out of 11 books — 11 voters
The Fellowship of the Ring by J.R.R. TolkienThe Two Towers by J.R.R. TolkienThe Return of the King by J.R.R. TolkienThe Name of the Wind by Patrick RothfussThe Hobbit by Chuck Dixon
Best Fantasy that is Really Fantasy
141st out of 308 books — 286 voters

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Community Reviews

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Gears of City was a novel I had very high expectations about and not only delivered but surpassed them.

Without too many spoilers, the book moves into clear New Weird territory as well as reminding me a bit of Gene Wolfe's Long Sun setting, with a decaying and alternating between bleak and wondrous landscape.

Arjun is still looking for his music God, but now he is unstuck from normal time in Ararat, being able to navigate the Metacontext that threads the history of Ararat at least of some places
Jan 16, 2009 Trip rated it liked it
This continues the weird second half of Thunderer (the part that's like a strange mix of the old RPG Nexus: The Infinite City, Rats and Gargoyles, and Zelazny's Amber books), not the more normal fantasy of the first half. It ends at a reasonable point to end the series, so I'm interested to see what Gilman will do next.
Apr 28, 2009 Wade rated it really liked it
If part of what I liked about Gilman's first book was its ability to be such a different kind of fantasy novel, part of what I liked about this one was its ability to do horror well. It'd still be classified as Fantasy, as it's set in the same City as the last book -albeit different parts- but it's a much darker book. Like Lovecraft, I think the best horror deals with facing things too large and beyond our comprehension to fully understand; unlike some horror writers, I thought Gilman did a rela ...more
Jun 17, 2009 Kevin rated it it was ok
In the taxonomy of city fiction writer Gilman is a progression from Gaiman to Mieville to Van Der Meer to himself. Unfortunately he seems to have each author's weakness and none of their strengths. The premise of the book is interesting enough, but the actualization of it is flawed and a little boring.
Mar 17, 2009 Terry rated it liked it
This is the second book that Felix Gilman has publish and it is a continuation of the first "thunderer". I liked this book as much as the first one. This setting is absolutely amazing. As you read more of the book, more of the city and the "meta context of the city", is shown to you. Story keeps a fairly fast pace with the scenery and the people constantly changing. Two books in and I am already a hug fan of Felix Gilman. You have to read his work. His settings are amazing and his story telling ...more
May 06, 2009 Sara rated it really liked it
Shelves: fantasy, victoriana
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Feb 20, 2016 Marie added it
Shelves: retow
I gave up after 55 pages. It has an evocative title and and the author knows how to turn a phrase, but the main character is a blank slate who is difficult to care about: no memory, no family, no friends, and no motivation. He simply runs from various dangers, meets random people, and wallows in his problems.

Granted, I didn't read the first book in this series. Perhaps those who did will enjoy this more. Personally, as a SF fan, I get tired of never being able to pick up a book that interests m
May 31, 2009 Steven rated it did not like it
Shelves: could-not-finish
I read thunderer and while it started off terribly slow it managed to catch my attention near the middle. this book started out the same way SLOW SLOWER SLOWERER....perhaps it's just me but i wasn't able to finish it, I got as far as page 250 and I just couldn't start book 2.
So... luck to you if you start to read this one.

oh no i am a ghost and can't remember what, who or why I am oh nooooo.... lol
Jun 15, 2009 Amy rated it really liked it
I found this harder to get into than Thunderer but about halfway through the book, it all clicked into place. I did miss all of the strange wonderful glances at the city in the first book.
Nov 06, 2009 Andrew rated it it was amazing
Shelves: fantasy, 2009
I really loved this. I thought it was a much stronger story than the first book, Thunderer, and I enjoyed that one quite a bit. Unlike Thunderer, though, this one took no time at all to grab me. It was engaging, exciting, and incredibly well thought out. The massive, ever-changing city of Ararat and it's workings made more sense in this book, which I suppose is the point of writing a sequel. The pacing was nice, the twists were well-planned (if not the tiniest bit predictible at times), and from ...more
May 21, 2014 T. rated it did not like it
Disappointing after the breathtaking innovations of the first book, Thunderer, where you had the thrill of discovering the ins and outs of a god-infested world. The sequel takes the darkest, twistiest, least rational parts of the original and tries to spin them into a tale. Where the first book was ambitious, the second is merely undisciplined. Badly in need of an edit--and a sense of the parameters ruling Gilman's universe..
Jan 02, 2011 Craighayden rated it really liked it
"Gears of the City" is a wonderful book, and a great follow-up to the previous "Thunderer." While evidently this book can be read as a stand-alone, it makes much more sense after being exposed to the complex character that is the city itself as introduced in Thunderer. I've heard Gilman compared to Mieville. While I recognize the skill and vision behind Mieville's "Perdido Street station" and "The Scar," there is something effortlessly beautiful and lyrical about Gilman's writing that adds real ...more
Jul 11, 2011 Joy rated it it was amazing
#2 of the Steampunk, dystopian city of Ararat.

This will not suit a good number of fantasy readers. It is more of a Zen Koan than a novel with a beginning, middle and end. There is a final conclusion but the writing is so very poetic and philosophic that I, even as a fast reader, could only get through a few chapters at a time. In other words I loved it!

The Villain is described: "His business, his scheming, his deals and revenges, his flights from creditors and police and inquisitors - It took hi
Brian Woodkoiwa
Apr 27, 2011 Brian Woodkoiwa rated it really liked it
Bizarre cities are places I want to escape to, and Ararat is one of those metropolises. Time and place are redefined, crunched, and crumpled up into something that really cannot be defined. If you like all that, then you will like Felix Gilman's "Thunderer" and its sequel "Gears of the City". I like the first book a little bit more because the actual city seemed to be more of a main character. The city was still very much part of "Gears of the City", but I guess since it was mostly in a dying st ...more
Apr 23, 2011 Craig rated it liked it
This sprawling novel is a mess--full of dark magic, horror and bits of beauty. It has a plot that is rather vague and hazy. The structure shifts and changes, like the city it describes. At its best, Gears Of The City mixes the high gothic style of Mervyn Peake with the fever dream surrealism of Lautremont's Maldoror. There are times when Gilman's invention overpowers his storytelling skill, and some of the characterization is weak. But the overheated, imagistic prose keeps the dark marvels comin ...more
Edward Butler
May 31, 2011 Edward Butler rated it liked it
Uneven followup to the wonderful Thunderer. In a way, Gears of the City offers a story very similar to Thunderer, only on a vaster scale and, paradoxically, of less interest. The settings are almost uniformly drab and bleak, the characters either brutes or victims almost without exception; there is one amusing character introduced here, Brace-Bel, who seems sadly underused, however. Have I mentioned that there are zombies here as well, which seems to have become some sort of arbitrary requiremen ...more
Gilman follows up his impressive debut with a book that layers on excesses and shows such brazen ambition that it should be a loud messy failure. Like Moorcock’s Cornelius Quartet, and Hal Duncan’s Vellum a twisting series of timelines, genre, and realities is presented that should reduce the narrative to collage but as in the last half of the Thunderer the author retains a consistent narrative energy that holds the story together in ways that those two mentioned(and wonderful) books don’t. Like ...more
Nov 01, 2012 Kace rated it it was amazing
Shelves: new-weird
Wow. Felix Gilman is one hell of an author. If he keeps it up, he will be among the best of the genre.
I did like the book very much, despite it's flaws.

It had a completely different feel from the first book, Thunderer. Where the first book sometimes felt like epic fantasy, which got (new) weirder while progressing, Gears of the City is weird from the beginning, but also more claustrophobic. In the first book Arjun arrives in Ararat searching for his God. At the end of the book he found a way to reach the City Beyond, the Meta Context. Gears of the City starts with Arjun finding himself without h
Jan 01, 2013 Geoffrey rated it liked it
Not as good as Thunderer; more gray-green muck than I necessarily care for. Awesome climax, though.
Nate Tollefsen
Feb 15, 2013 Nate Tollefsen rated it it was amazing
I was a little put off at first by the significantly different tone than it's predecessor - a much darker, philosophical tone - but I had gotten over that within the first couple of chapters. This book easily matches and, in many ways, surpasses Thunderer.

Gilman is so wildly imaginative and descriptive (much of the time without specifically describing anything) that he is rapidly becoming one of my favorite authors.

The nerdy part of me wants to draw parallels between Gear's Inspector Maury and H
Mary Catelli
Jul 31, 2013 Mary Catelli rated it really liked it
Shelves: fantasy-other
This is a sequel to his Thunderer. I do recommend reading that first. Since this one starts out with the main character amnesiac, it's not obvious up front, but it becomes obvious.

Now, Thunderer took place in an enormous city haunted by gods -- strange, inhuman, numinous beings, whose apparitions were endless and quite capable of driving men mad. Although individual gods appeared generally for a period of time and then less and less until they ceased, new gods always appeared. Gave an interesti
Fantasy Literature
Jan 20, 2014 Fantasy Literature rated it liked it
Despite a somewhat slow and haphazard beginning, I thought Felix Gilman’s Thunderer was one of the best debuts I read in 2007 and couldn’t wait to get my hands on the sequel. Alas, Gears of the City was a bit disappointing.

I think the biggest issue I had with the book were the characters. Simply put, I just didn’t care about any of them, which was a little surprising considering that returning protagonist, Arjun, was fairly compelling in Thunderer. In Gears of the City, Arjun’s goals are still t
Mar 11, 2015 Matt rated it it was ok
Follow up to Gilman's first book The Thunderers. Continues story of Arjun searching for his lost music god. Also conintues the story of Shay, who never seems to die

Characters: Arjun-boring Ruth Low-boring The Beast-Intially interesting then becomes dull. Shay: Interesting, but not enough about him.

Plot: Slow to develop. Seems to be a lot of sidetracks.

Language: Very well written.
Apr 09, 2014 Fai rated it it was ok
This seemed to be written in a slightly different yet equally mind-numbing boring way as its predecessor, "Thunderer."

Luckily, it tied up a lot of unanswered questions that the first book posed.

This is the last time that I buy a book AND its sequel at the same time, thinking that they both will be good reads!

Jan 15, 2015 Peter rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Utterly original

This was one of the most enjoyable books I've read in ages. The way Gilman gradually changes the focus of protagonists seems sloppy at first but makes total sense in the end. Brilliantly subverts the "chosen one" trope that's been so overdone.
Feb 23, 2015 Amy rated it really liked it
Much better than Thunderer. We get to see more of the City and how it works, and get to witness fantastic interactions between and across Ages. Also, though some characters continue being irritating, some of them are redeemingly interesting (read: Brace-Bel!). Feels like it could have been a bit shorter, but does a good job tying several different arcs together in a compelling way.
Jeremy Preacher
May 12, 2015 Jeremy Preacher rated it liked it
Shelves: fantasy
I am not totally thrilled with this book. The dark, industrial, grimy setting is evocative, but the city itself is less interesting and varied than it was in Thunderer, and the city was my favorite part of that. The Mountain never really grabs me as a mystery - it's too distant, too archetypal, too inhuman to be of much concern.

The characters are moderately engaging, particularly the Low sisters, but Arjun, who is nominally the protagonist, is still bland and passive, which works much less well
Aug 16, 2015 Mohsin rated it did not like it
Just...painful. Awkwardly written, little to no characterisation, entirely too experimental to be worth the time. I read this after having delightedly torn through Gilman's "Half-Made World" books, and wish there were some way for me to go back in time and un-read this one.
John Adams
Feb 24, 2016 John Adams rated it liked it
The magic of the city (and the language used to describe it) seemed to wear off some through repetition, and the plot was much more conventional than in Thunderer, but I still enjoyed it.
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“Among the hidden and irregular communities of madmen, paranoids, sorcerers, those who had Broken Through to the city behind and above the city of their births, there was a certain community or anticommunity, there was a guarded and untrustworthy exchange of information. They were the wanderers of the City Beyond, the Via Obscura, the Thousand-Fold Path, the Metacontext, die Träumenstadt, the Gears, the Slew, Time Itself, whatever you wanted to call it. (From time to time he’d suggested the Song, or the Chorus—neither caught on.) They bartered maps and keys and rumors of the Mountain.” 0 likes
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