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Clockwork Angels #2

Clockwork Lives

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Some lives can be summed up in a sentence or two. Other lives are epics.

In Clockwork Angels , #1 bestselling author Kevin J. Anderson and legendary Rush drummer and lyricist Neil Peart created a fabulous, adventurous steampunk world in a novel to accompany the smash Rush concept album of the same name. It was a world of airships and alchemy, clockwork carnivals, pirates, lost cities, a rigid Watchmaker who controlled every aspect of life, and his nemesis, the ruthless and violent Anarchist who wanted to destroy it all.

Anderson and Peart have returned to their colourful creation to explore the places and the characters that still have a hold on their imagination. Marinda Peake is a woman with a quiet, perfect life in a small village; she long ago gave up on her dreams and ambitions to take care of her ailing father, an alchemist and an inventor. When he dies, he gives Marinda a mysterious inheritance: a blank book that she must fill with other people’s stories — and ultimately her own.

Clockwork Lives is a steampunk Canterbury Tales, and much more, as Marinda strives to change her life from a mere “sentence or two” to a true epic.

400 pages, Hardcover

First published September 1, 2015

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About the author

Kevin J. Anderson

699 books2,738 followers
Yes, I have a lot of books, and if this is your first visit to my amazon author page, it can be a little overwhelming. If you are new to my work, let me recommend a few titles as good places to start. I love my Dan Shamble, Zombie P.I. series, humorous horror/mysteries, which begin with DEATH WARMED OVER. My steampunk fantasy adventures, CLOCKWORK ANGELS and CLOCKWORK LIVES, written with Neil Peart, legendary drummer from Rush, are two of my very favorite novels ever. And my magnum opus, the science fiction epic The Saga of Seven Suns, begins with HIDDEN EMPIRE. After you've tried those, I hope you'll check out some of my other series.

I have written spin-off novels for Star Wars, StarCraft, Titan A.E., and The X-Files, and I'm the co-author of the Dune prequels. My original works include the Saga of Seven Suns series and the Nebula Award-nominated Assemblers of Infinity. I have also written several comic books including the Dark Horse Star Wars collection Tales of the Jedi written in collaboration with Tom Veitch, Predator titles (also for Dark Horse), and X-Files titles for Topps.

I serve as a judge in the Writers of the Future contest.

My wife is author Rebecca Moesta. We currently reside near Monument, Colorado.

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5 stars
373 (42%)
4 stars
314 (36%)
3 stars
134 (15%)
2 stars
40 (4%)
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10 (1%)
Displaying 1 - 30 of 118 reviews
Profile Image for Christie Perez.
1 review2 followers
September 17, 2015
As a HUGE lifelong Rush fan and now a Kevin J. Anderson fan, I could not wait for this book to be released. I loved Clockwork Angels and love Clockwork Lives just as much much, if not more!!! This book enhances the first book as you go back to the steampunk-esque world that Kevin and Neil have created. It fills in gaps and answers many questions that left Clockwork Angels readers wanting to know more. Add the ever so subtle Rush lyric drops (plus the not so subtle Rush references) and you also get new meanings and images to the discography of music I love so much. Thank you KJA and NEP for another wonderful ride from Albion to Heartshore and every place in between. All is definitely for the best!!!!

Christie, CARFU Admin and Proud Rushanista
Profile Image for Cathy .
1,944 reviews52 followers
October 20, 2015
It's a beautiful book, with the embossed cover that's supposed to look like the cover of Marinda's book (which is really the star of the book). The paper is thick and parchment-looking throughout, which is really nice. I could be wrong, but I think I complained about only the first pages of chapters looking like parchment the last time. Either way, it's a lovely look and an easy way to set the tone. The drawings at the beginnings of each "epic" tale were charming. These books are just a lot more bang for your buck than just about any other plain book, at least from the production standpoint. And I did see a notice that buyers get the ebook free with purchase of the hardback, which is a great deal. (Proof of purchase required, of course, so I can't report of how easy it was to navigate getting your download since I was using a library copy.)

The story was simple but basically charming. I enjoyed it, but I don't know that I'd recommend someone go out and drop $20+ on it. The woman in the book goes on a journey of discovery, but she's really just a witness, not a participant. Her alchemical book records the stories of people she meets, their true stories as recovered from a drop of their blood. The book ends up feeling a bit like a collection of fables or myths, the stories have that somewhat magical and archetypical style. It was a nice, light read. I still enjoy this darkly beautiful world that the authors have created. I guess I still feel like they're just scratching the surface of it though. They do uncover some of the shadows behind the gold and glitter. The story about the fortune teller was sure to be a favorite of most readers, it exposed a great deal of the history of this world that was fascinating, frustrating and sad. Fans of the first book will want to read this one just for that story. Maybe it's because I tend to be character oriented and this structure allows for very little character development. Marinda is the only character who is featured throughout the book and her personality is only shallowly depicted and the changes she goes through are significant but not expressed or portrayed in an engaging way. She just sort of announces how much she's changed now, after reading the story of someone she's recorded in her book or after one profound experience. The rest of the characters are just stories on a page, literally for me and for Marinda much of the time, she often barely even spends time with them and knows them only through their histories. Though we did learn a great deal about the Watchmaker too, I'm not sure I'd call that character development. It was a charming book, a good change of pace, just different from what I normally read. And I'd love to see them do something totally different in this world than the Candide-esqe journey of discovery, meet lots of weird and wonderful people kind of thing. I don't think it's going to happen, but I'd enjoy getting deeper into some characters and locations instead of floating across the surface.
Profile Image for Megan Baxter.
985 reviews658 followers
September 11, 2016
Based on a Rush concept album, huh? Second book in the series? There's actually quite a lot to like here, and the central conceit is interesting enough, but it suffers by never quite bringing the disparate threads together to become a cohesive whole. Also from having a main character who is initially so single-mindedly conformist as to be cartoony.

Note: The rest of this review has been withheld 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
Profile Image for Fred Hughes.
723 reviews47 followers
April 3, 2019
This book is not really about the steampunk world and all the wonders within it. It is rather a human interest story about a woman who lives a very methodical and orderly life until her father dies and forces her to embrace the unknown of the world and register the stories of their lives.

For a steampunk focused story look at authors like George Mann who has this genre nailed down.

It also appears to be written for a younger crowd
Profile Image for Dag.
3 reviews
August 17, 2015
I must say that I have neither read Clockwork Angels nor am I a big Rush fan, but Clockwork Lives stands very well on its own merit and it was a very enjoyable read. After finishing Clockwork Lives I really want to see more from the world they have created. There seem to be so many stories that can still be told in this interesting universe. Highly recommended.

I have also had the pleasure of interviewing Kevin J Andersen about this release, more about that in my Kevin J. Anderson interview .
Profile Image for Michael.
260 reviews40 followers
October 1, 2015
For whatever reason I've been kinda burned out on writing reviews as I polish books off my list, but I will say this for 'Clockwork Lives' - fantastic read. 'Clockwork Angels' was really good, and was like shooting fish in a barrel for this diehard Rush fan, but CL was even better. Basically a steampunk 'Canterbury Tales' (as ECW Press mentions in their own ads) that fleshes out the world of Albion introduced in the first book.

And the hardcover edition is friggin' gorgeous.
4 reviews
September 5, 2017
Spectacular book. Every chapter was so beautifully crafted and put together. I loved each character introduced and the story that came with them. Speaking of which the actual concept of the book was so fricken cool, that's what really got me into the book initially.
Profile Image for Becky Carr.
85 reviews16 followers
September 2, 2018
In this steampunk adaptation of The Canterbury Tales, Kevin J. Anderson and Neil Peart create a world rich with character and adventure.
While the primary narration is told in the third person following Merinda Peake’s journey to fill her book with stories, the individual tales are told in the first person. This is an unusual, but intelligent way to let the stories grow. The characters become more real. It’s not a book you can easily put down.
While this is the second book in the Clockwork Angels series, it does stand alone easily supported by the depth of characters whose stories are collected. Thoroughly enjoyable. Left me wanting more.
July 24, 2022
Unusual way of writing and getting many peoples stories in. The main person is belieavable in her reluctant acceptance of a quest she didn't want. And a world well built around the story. Excellent!
Profile Image for Christine.
61 reviews5 followers
March 5, 2019
It was a lovely book with a happy ending, of which I am not used to, but did enjoy.
9 reviews
January 4, 2018
I picked this off the shelf because of the beautiful cover (My sister and I are both suckers for gold embossing), unaware that it was the second in a series. It's structured as a bunch of vignettes about various "interesting characters" in a steampunky, vaguely dystopian world, which is ruled over by the Watchmaker. The framing device is the journey of Marinda, an unassuming woman from back-end-of-nowhere Lugtown, who is left a quest by her late father to go off and have adventures, and fill a book with other people's life stories.

My biggest bone to pick with this book was the way Marinda reacted to the people she came across. She was content to grab each person's story and run, never stopping to chat or ask any questions. This left the book feeling disjointed as while I was still struggling to absorb the emotion of the previous story, Marinda was already running off in search of someone else. It was especially strange with the story of .

Anyway. I'm giving it two stars because reluctant yet independent lady adventurers make me happy, even if .

Profile Image for Kayla.
192 reviews30 followers
December 29, 2015
Everything about this book is gorgeous and perfect for the genre. However, it just goes to show that a bad story with a pretty layout is still a bad story.

The problem is that everything is told plainly and openly - nothing is left for the imagination, and the plot held no surprises whatsoever. The characters are not developed enough for me to feel any sort of attachment, and they're extremely flat and archetypal. The setting has so much potential, but the writing style made it painful to read. On top of that, the author(s) are very clearly trying to make a point, and I mean hitting-you-over-the-head-every-two-pages kind of point.
9 reviews
December 16, 2015
A book whose reach exceeds its grasp.

Clockwork Lives aims for a mythic quality that it never attains, hampered largely by its inability to portray its characters with nuance and versimilitude. Characters are writ large with broad brush strokes that reduce them to caricature. Diegetically, this could be explained away by the in-universe mechanic which transcribes their lives to the reader, but this explanation fails to explain why the protagonist is herself so one-dimensional.

Sadly, the book is just not well-written.
Profile Image for Mark.
Author 105 books147 followers
May 7, 2015
I fell in love with this story from the very first words. Anderson, Peart, you had me at those opening two lines: "Some lives can be summed up in a sentence or two. Other lives are epic."

The book motif of collecting adventures, the bookshop mirror and the multiple worlds, were elements of magic that I enjoyed escaping into while reading this tale.
Profile Image for Grady.
621 reviews37 followers
April 7, 2018
I gave up on this partway through. I didn’t dislike it, exactly, but found the rhythm of the writing clunky - it felt like the author didn’t read his text aloud to really hear it before declaring it done, though perhaps he did and we just like different styles. The stories I read also lacked punch, making the opportunity cost of reading to complete the book too high.
Profile Image for Holly.
175 reviews
October 4, 2015
This was so much fun! The clockwork universe is made more wonderful with sprinklings of Rush lyrics. But the story itself and the evolution of Miranda's character really made this a wonderful read!
Profile Image for Tom.
16 reviews
March 23, 2016
It was a fun read. It is not really a sequel to Clockwork Angels. It takes place in the same world but with a new cast of characters.
Profile Image for EJ Roberts.
100 reviews2 followers
November 18, 2017
While Clockwork Lives is technically a follow-up book to Clockwork Angels, there isn’t any real need to read the other book first. Both are self-contained, but if you read Clockwork Angels first, you will see the same characters making an appearance here.

I picked up this book on the recommendation of a friend. I was playing with the idea of how you take short stories and link them together with an overall narrative. That’s what you get here and it is amazing.

Marinda Peake gave up everything in order to take care of her aging father. During those long years, she sets up a strict schedule and adheres to it with tenacity. She prefers logic to flights of fancy. She has everything she needs in the small home she shares with her father and has absolutely no desire to go anywhere else. When her father passes away, her entire world is turned upside down.

Her only inheritance is a large book. It contains alchemically treated pages that can distill a person’s life story with only a single drop of blood. In order to receive the rest of her inheritance, her father stipulated she needed to head out into the world and collect enough stories to fill her book. The first story she is given is her father’s. This is the first short story contained within the whole and provides the blueprint for the rest of the book.

As Marinda travels in the search of stories, she quickly comes to realize that most people’s lives can be distilled to a few sentences. As time goes by, she decides she wants the book filled with epic tales.

The stories themselves are amazing. Each one mingles with another in some small way. Whether it’s a mention of a person from another story or a spinoff from something Marinda has experienced herself, they’re all wonderfully written. Every epic tale is also accompanied by a drawing that gives the reader insight into the story to come. I will admit I didn’t pay close attention to them. I have an overly active imagination and couldn’t wait to read the story and watch it come to life in my mind by the excellent writing skills of Kevin J. Anderson and Neil Peart.

By the end of the book, you can’t help but wonder. If Marinda were to take a drop of blood from you, would your story be only a few sentences, or would it spin out an epic tale?
Profile Image for Claudia.
1,198 reviews35 followers
March 21, 2020
"Some Lives can be summed up in a sentence or two.
Other lives are epics."

With a description as a steampunk/clockwork Canterbury Tales and with the above quote of Arlen Peake, the alchemist father of the main character, Marinda Peake, you have the basic plot of the second in the Clockwork Angels series.

Living in a small town under the precise control of the Watchkeeper and his Regulators, Marinda gave up a chance at marriage in order to take care of her elderly father. It is upon Arlen's death, Marinda is given a book with alchemical paper which she must fill with life stories of others with the drop of blood. At the beginning of her travels, she resents her father for forcing her out of her comfort zone but as she travels, as she experiences the world and hears the tales of people she meets, her conformity to the Watchmaker and his doctrine fades. She changes from a focused person who is willing to pay for those drops of blood in order to fill the book as quickly as possible so she can get back to her logical, strictly regulated life to a person who is willing to try anything, willing to listen to those around her to find 'good' stories to add to the book.

Many of the life stories are short - only a few sentences as the people are content living and dying in the same town they were born in. Others are true epics and each epic is given it's own chapter, an illustration and a single line.
The Inventor's Tale - Arlen Peake's own tale
The Steamliner Pilot's Tale
The Astronomer's Tale
The Bookseller's Tale
The Percussor's Tale
The Strongman's Tale
The Fortune Teller's Tale
The Sea Captain's Tale
The Pickpocket's Tale
The Seeker's Tale
The Alchemy Miner's Tale
The Fisherman's Tale
The Wrecker's Tale

As the original storyline was basically based on a world created with the Clockwork Angels concept album by Rush of which Neil Peart was the drummer and main lyricist so there are many song titles not only in the tale chapters but in locations across the two main continents.

You don't need to be a fan of steampunk to enjoy this tale. Nor be a fan of Neil Peart or Rush. Those just make you smile at the inside 'jokes'.

Profile Image for Hadiqa.
351 reviews35 followers
January 24, 2022
"Even so far from Albion, she discovered that most of these people spent day after day ticking off the calendar as if it were a list of duties instead of a journey to be enjoyed and fulfilled. Was it living or just existence? Most of these people accomplished little, strived for little, and went nowhere. Even old men had far too little to tell after a lifetime of living..."

Beautiful beautiful concept... The book emphasizes getting out of one's comfort zone and doing things that you wouldn't normally do. Live an adventurous life and meet different people, see different countries, cities and so on. That is absolutely wonderful... I wish the writer could've included something about the Aurora Borealis in some cold country/city. My experience of seeing the Aurora Borealis for the first time is unforgettable. I bet Marinda would've enjoyed it too :D

There were lots of stories but my favorite was the Underworld Books owners'. Man, that was incredibly done. The Watchmaker's daughter's story was really interesting. I had my doubts about him and her story confirmed it, smh I was surprised to see her travel even further and really enjoyed it. The cavewomen story/ending was crazy...didn't expect that at all...

Great cover, which got my attention pretty fast :p and good character development.

Somethings that bothered me just a teensy bit:
1. it became slightly boring because I knew wherever she goes she'll be collecting stories. Ofc I looked forward to the next story but I knew that's the max it would happen in the book (tho I did get a surprise when / why she goes further than Albion).

2. Most of the book isn't dialogues, it's just narration.

3. This book shouldn't be in the adult section. Sounds more like a YA.

So, this is a great book overall. I contemplated a lot between a 5 and 4 rating but I'll say it's a 4.4 and I rarely give ratings this high.

" Why had she been content with a humdrum existence? Why had Marinda think that a quiet life was equivalent to a perfect life? "
Profile Image for Taylor R..
12 reviews
July 27, 2020
Colorful book all-around, and not just in vintage pages or adorned covers, but in the characters' lives. I'm usually not a seeker of steampunk. But it's rather that these books find me first---and when they do, it's worth it! The idea of blood spilling out an accurate life story is super interesting. It adds both negative and positive ethics, which complicates how characters act and their reasons for needing to share their life or or keep it safely private.

"Some lives can be summed up in a sentence or two. Other lives are epics." This is both my favorite quote and the theme of the book. Just from looking a person, you cannot judge what their past is, who they really are now. The protagonist, Marinda Peake, is used to living a quiet life with her father, and she started out lacking any interest to travel and meet new people. After all, all the citizens in this world have lives that run like clockwork, right? But when he bequeaths his alchemical invention to her, she discovers lives she and I, the reader, will never forget.

I recommend Clockwork Lives for aspiring authors. Kevin J. Anderson and Neil Peart show what it means to 'care about your characters' with all the details and love put into creating them. Also, this was too minor to reduce the rating to 4 stars, but watch out for the underwhelming climax. Everything about the plot compelled me but the climax lacked the typical intensity. Still a great read overall.
54 reviews1 follower
December 24, 2017
Better than its predecessor, Clockwork Lives is a fabulous reading experience, which beautifully depicts and develops its main character from beginning to end, while leaving a powerful lesson of making the most out of your life. Its poetic and intelligent choice of words stirs the imagination, and its concise artwork thoroughly complements its captivating narrative.

If you are a Rush fan, reading this book after Clockwork Angels makes you feel that all the stories told by the band, especially Neil Peart's thoughtful lyrics were originally intended to be a whole story, as if all the band's existence has been a conceptual piece and as if their latest album was the epilogue of an amazing epic (and their debut album, a foreword written by a devoted fan).

Originally intended to be a random collection of short stories, the way in which the author ended up intertwining those stories always leaves one wanting for more, while at the same time leaving a satisfying sensation of closure.

Highly recommended for Rush fans!
179 reviews
March 23, 2022
So... the worldbuilding in this book is lovely, and the individual vignettes are great, but I just can't get past the premise.

The idea that this man had a fortune hidden away, and allowed his daughter to make her life smaller and smaller in order to take care of him, then used his will to forcibly evict her from her home after his death is...bad.

If he had this fortune, and wanted her to travel, why does he need an ultimatum and a magic book? Hire a nurse to do home care, then send Marinda out to have adventures. He could even tell her it's what he would have done with his life if he could have, and all he wants is for her to bring back tales to tell. It would have opened her world before his death, and not felt like an ASTOUNDINGLY cruel dismissal of his daughter's agency and autonomy.

Regardless of how much Marinda ended up enjoying her adventures, I could not get past the fact that she was forced out of her home mere days after her father's death and told only that it was for her own good.

Profile Image for David Cain.
439 reviews11 followers
September 14, 2020
This sequel to Clockwork Angels is a workmanlike steam-punk science fiction novel modeled broadly after The Canterbury Tales. I recommend this only for readers who have already enjoyed the first in this series - the Venn diagram of people who enjoy these two books and people who are fans of the band Rush will have quite a bit of overlap, and I'm not sure how people would even learn about this book if they're not already Neil Peart/Rush fans. That said, it's a decent novel with the same sense of adventure as its predecessor. Some of the stories are stronger than others, and the connecting thread is often thin and rushed - especially toward the end of the story. But it's decent entertainment that does a great job at expanding the world hinted at in Peart's lyrics throughout their final album, Clockwork Angels.
Profile Image for David.
273 reviews1 follower
June 10, 2019
Clockwork Lives is the second book in the Clockwork universe by Anderson and Peart. In it, the protagonist, Marinda Peake, sets out to collect truly epic life stories from people she meets. Throughout her great adventure, the majority of the pages in the book are the life stories of the people she meets.

As with Clockwork Angels Anderson seems to go out of his way to insert Rush lyrics into the story. People less familiar with their music may not even notice this, though (as a big Rush fan) I found it jarring.

I did enjoy Lives better than Angels. It's OK in a steampunkian-is-your-life-epic sort of way. However, it was rather long. At this point, I'm not wishing I could do it all again.
Profile Image for Meagan.
1,514 reviews56 followers
June 24, 2018
I’m rather torn on this book. I completely loved the book’s production. The binding, the paper, it’s beautifully presented and utterly gorgeous. And many of the stories were just spot on; I particularly enjoyed the bookseller’s story. The down side for me was the handful of swearing (though it certainly could have been much worse!) and the passing references to illicit romances. That, I could have done without; I personally don’t read books with that content, and didn’t feel like it added anything to the story. Those two things aside, a very thought provoking story and challenge to make one’s life an epic.
Profile Image for Robert Rowe.
8 reviews
July 29, 2017
My wife saw the cover at our library, and showed it to me. When I realized what it was, having read "Clockwork Angels", I signed it out, and proceeded to read it in just over a weekend.

It's not necessary to read "Clockwork Angels" first, but I recommend it. "Lives" expands on some of the characters that you only got a glimpse of in book 1, through a whole new story, taking place in the same world.

Parts were predictable, then surprising in a new way. The storytelling format was really well done.
2 reviews
January 4, 2022
I will never not recommend this book. I always describe it as a "Steampunk Canterbury Tales" and it always seems to live up to that. The collection of stories that the protagonist gathers are compelling in their own right, but the most interesting part is how they weave into the overarching plot and influence the main character's growth. I will admit that it is written at a slower pace than I'm accustomed to but I don't feel that it is distracting or boring, rather, it helps the reader become more attuned to the protagonist and her journey.
Profile Image for Dr. Joseph Borreggine.
80 reviews1 follower
November 3, 2022
Clockwork lives is a telltale adventure of a citizen of Albion, named Miranda. She is on journey to find out the story of the lives that she comes across during her sojourn that is required by her father to obtain her inheritance. Kevin and Neil have written excellent story as part two of the Clockwork trilogy. Lots of Rush lyrical morsels are sprinkled through the book for the fanatic to find. Also, many of the stories are partially autobiographical for each of the authoritative writer of this book. This is another fine masterpiece of literature that will be passed down through the ages.
Displaying 1 - 30 of 118 reviews

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