[2 and 1/2 stars] A steampunk-infused graphic novel that tackles social issues on a great flying City. While there are some interesting ideas here, and...more[2 and 1/2 stars] A steampunk-infused graphic novel that tackles social issues on a great flying City. While there are some interesting ideas here, and the protagonist is a spirited yet slightly bitter woman with a social conscience and a sharp tongue (which I think most people can agree is a Good Thing), the artwork is terribly sketchy and hard to decipher at times, the story rushes over most of the interesting stuff, and the characterisation is pretty thin in most places. It does make me interested in the podcasts that apparently precede it, though.
The novelisation of volumes 4-6 in the Girl Genius webcomic series, in which Agatha, having been revealed as the long-lost heir to the (in)famous Hete...moreThe novelisation of volumes 4-6 in the Girl Genius webcomic series, in which Agatha, having been revealed as the long-lost heir to the (in)famous Heterodyne family, is on the run from Baron Wulfenbach and takes refuge with a travelling circus. Slower-moving than the first novel, Agatha H and the Airship City, and without quite the same tight focus, this is nevertheless a very enjoyable book, with all the delightful wit and magic you expect from the Foglios. The authors use the much greater length of this book to further expand their steampunky universe (as a Pratchett fan, I thoroughly approve of the use of footnotes here! They're sometimes wry, sometimes genuinely informative, and always interesting), giving us tantalising snippets of backstory, introducing a heap of new characters and taking the extra time to provide some new depths to them not possible in the webcomic (e.g. the exploration of Zeetha's state of mind at the beginning of the story, and how having independent confirmation of her origins gives her a renewed sense of purpose). Dramatic revelations abound, and the climax of the story is a real humdinger. Most importantly, this is a crucial transitional stage for Agatha, who gets breathing room to experience new things (such as a burgeoning friendship with Zeetha and a blossoming romance with hunky circus performer Lars). Indeed, a much larger portion of the story is devoted to the latter than in the webcomic (initially somewhat to my surprise, as I wouldn't have called it more than a crush there), but I think it's part of the overarching theme of letting her experience as much "normality" as possible (as normal as one can get in a universe ruled by Mad Science) and allowing her to consider new possibilities, while at the same time firming up her sense of self and preparing her for her destiny as a Heterodyne. It's not perfect, of course - at times it's probably too leisurely, and I'd say that too much time is spent on the travelling with the Circus crew portions of the story (much as I enjoy them) somewhat to the detriment of the more crucial Sturmhalten parts of the narrative - indeed, I'd go so far to say that they probably should have picked "Circus of Dreams" for the title rather than "Clockwork Princess", as there's a lot more Circus than there is Anevka! There are also far too many repetitive instances of characters rolling their eyes which should have edited down, and while you expect a few little typos in any first edition, there are some really noticeable misspellings of character names (General Khirzan? Sturmvarous?!) that leap out. But these are minor faults, when all is said and done. I really do love how woman-centric this series is - unlike almost every other SFF story out there, its default setting for characters is much more likely to be female than male, and thus we're treated to women who are mad scientists, pirate-queens-cum-airship-captains/homicidal-maniacs (Bangladesh Dupree truly threatens to steal the show at times), mechanics, warriors, animal trainers, vampyre hunters, androids and villains. I want more stories like this! (And now I'm dying to read the next book in the series - the Mechanicsburg section is my favourite part of Girl Genius so far…) Finally, if you get a chance to listen to the audiobook version, by all means do so - narrator Angela Dawe does an amazing job with all the different voices.(less)