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Clockwork Boys

(Clocktaur War #1)

4.17  ·  Rating details ·  8,392 ratings  ·  1,093 reviews
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 ...more
Kindle Edition, 230 pages
Published November 21st 2017 by Red Wombat Studio
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Elizabeth McCoy Read the second one first. There's some clothes-off-close-contact scenes. I didn't find them anything that I'd forbid, as they're pretty healthy cuddl…moreRead the second one first. There's some clothes-off-close-contact scenes. I didn't find them anything that I'd forbid, as they're pretty healthy cuddlesome sex scenes, but it's something a parent needs to decide for themselves, based on the maturity of the kid.(less)

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Average rating 4.17  · 
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 ·  8,392 ratings  ·  1,093 reviews

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booksnpenguins (wingspan matters)
"Would you like to go on a suicide mission?" she asked.
He smiled. It was the first genuine smile she'd seen all day.
"I would be honored," he said.


So, I don't know if you guys remember but I let my boyfriend pick my next read and he chose this one because
-it looks cool.
-but have you read the blurb?
-no, but I trust the cover.
-yeah, wrong move.
-you're weird. and I rest my case.

And you know what? I should let his instinct pick my books more often.

Clockwork Boys really caught me by surpr
Tadiana ✩Night Owl☽
May 24, 2019 rated it really liked it
Shelves: steampunk, fantasy
Clockwork Orange boy. Different and yet somehow alike.

Final review, first posted on Fantasy Literature:

The plot of T. Kingfisher’s Clockwork Boys is of the “misfit company of strangers on a dangerous mission” type. Their country has been invaded by the so-called Clockwork Boys, nearly unstoppable, 10-foot-tall centaur-like creatures who are laying waste to the countryside. (I like the allusion to the out-of-control gang of boys in A Clockwork Orange.) The Dowager Queen has previously sent soldie
Lois Bujold
Mar 22, 2018 rated it really liked it
Well, that suited my reading mood.

Be it noted, this and its second half, The Wonder Engine, is one story, cut in half for length -- well, more like one-third/two-thirds -- not two. I read both together, so this review covers both. Don't think of it as the author charging you twice for one tale, but rather, as giving you a low-cost-low-risk chance to test-drive it before you fully commit.

It is very D&D-ish, which are its attested roots -- the writer having it out with an array of genre tropes tha
K.J. Charles
God I love T Kingfisher. I think I've read everything of hers this year. Superb, understated writing, glorious humour, wild imagination, and the kind of deep kindness and humanity that comes with an uncompromising view of right and wrong. One of those writers who just makes the world a better place, if only for the duration of a book, but sometimes that's all we have.

This is really the first half of a book, rather than book 1 of 2, so thank goodness the second half will be along soon. It's a cla
Apr 10, 2018 rated it really liked it
Shelves: fantasy
4.5 stars. This was very good. There are some very funny scenes in this book, especially when two of the characters are trying to ride horses! A disparate group set out to complete an impossible mission. We meet some strange creatures, gnoles and runes (green deer things), zombie vermin, demons, mandrakes, wonder engines, clocktaurs and a giant stone fish. I’m really looking forward to the second half of this story. Recommended.
3.75 stars.

Before I begin my review, I'd just like to state a change in my rating system as of 2021. So since we all know, our dear Goodreads does not have an option for "half" stars and if I decide to rate a book, say 3.5 stars, I have to end up rounding off. Now it is either going to be 3 or 4. I usually see which one goes with the book better. If 3 seems too less for the kind of 3.5 I have in mind then I do 4 and vice versa. So I have decided to scrap 3.5 altogether and instead rate books in
Apr 07, 2018 rated it really liked it
So, stop me if you’ve heard this one; a demonically possessed paladin, a misogynistic teenage scholar, a criminal forger with a magic nose, and a portly assassin walk into a tavern...

I don’t even remember when or how I first heard about Clockwork Boys, but I’m thinking it was a recommend through my local bookclub. Regardless of the how, I am thankful that it was put on my radar, as I had never heard of T. Kingfisher before, and likely would never have stumbled across this book on my own.

And what
Jul 27, 2021 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
4 Stars for Clockwork Boys (audiobook) by T. Kingfisher read by Khristine Hvam.
I enjoyed this story. It has some interesting characters and a great adventure.
Apr 27, 2022 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Hours passed, like a kidney stone.

The glibness and occasional punchy line in Clockwork Boys are almost the only things that worked for me in this story, the first part of a duology that has the dubious honor of being my least favorite T. Kingfisher work so far.

If you'd told me I would end up two-star-ing a Kingfisher book featuring an allergic heroine who sniffles her way through acts of courage and ingenuity, I - a fellow allergy sufferer who loves the flowers (but man, do they not love me ba
Apr 07, 2018 rated it it was amazing
THIS BOOK IS SO GOOD. It's T. Kingfisher writing a heist novel! What more could I want?? Alex alerted me to the presence of this book two weeks ago, and it was honestly a mistake to wait so long to start it. I am really not sure what I was thinking.

This is really the first of a two-part book, not a standalone novel. For now, I'll say that this is an interesting and unique fantasy world, which is why T. Kingfisher is an auto-buy every time, and the writing is charming and funny without lowering
He had prayed in the cell for hours Days. He had kept vigil on his knees, praying. Not for forgiveness, not for mercy - he deserved neither - but simply for a death.
The god had not answered. The hollow place in his soul stayed empty. Weeks had stretched to months, and he had stopped believing that there would ever be an answer. His faith had turned to bitterness and bile.
And then a little brown sparrow of a woman had come to the cell door and begun to sneeze.

I feel so bad for having left this o
Robin (Bridge Four)
A forger, a formerly possessed by a demon Paladin and an assassin head out on a journey of certain doom. There is also a scholar in this merry little group but he isn’t a criminal and doesn’t have a magical tattoo that will eat him if he goes off script.

I read Swordheart a few weeks ago and from that decided to jump into the rest of the stories set in the World of the White Rat. Clockwork Boys throws an unlikely crew together to march off together on a suicide mission. Their task is to make it t
Jul 04, 2018 rated it really liked it
Shelves: r2018, favourites, fantasy
This - first half of a story in two parts - turned out to be so much fun!

First, the narration grabs you early on - how is it that some authors can do this with only a handful of sentences while others take pages and pages? Then, you have a group of disparate but likeable anti-heroes thrown into a suicide mission in a fantasy setting. So far, so good. What made this above average is that the author put a lot in the characters, especially the ninja accountant (!) and the paladin, their backstory
Skye Kilaen
Aug 19, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 0-genre-fantasy
The role playing adventure (in novel form) of my dreams, if I'd ever dreamt about a reluctant heroine woman of color forger and a guilt-ridden demon-possessed white guy paladin on a quest to discover the origin of giant unstoppable war machines that are ravaging the world. Sadly, my dreams are never that interesting. Kingfisher is amazing at updating the classic adventure and fantasy feeling with deep character development, huge worldbuilding, and feminism. She is so funny and so imaginative, an ...more
May 20, 2018 rated it really liked it
The first half of a two-part novel which features a desperate (and probably suicidal) fact-finding mission to a country that's deploying monstrous centaur-like clockwork monstrosities in battle with its neighbors. It's at times very funny, and very serious, and always brilliant.

The group on the mission include a fallen paladin, a guerilla accountant, an assassin and a not-very-worldy priest of knowledge. If "guerilla accountant" doesn't grab you, I'm not sure I know what attracts people to fanta
✘✘ Sarah ✘✘ (former Nefarious Breeder of Murderous Crustaceans)
🤧 It's All about the Handkerchiefs Buddy Read (IAatHBR™) with Fluffy, Karen and Kate over at the MacHalo Asylum and stuff 🤧

Actual rating: 4.5 stars.

Guerilla accountants and murderous knights and heartless assassins and hilariously misogynistic monks, oh my! + rosemary and allergies (gesundheit!) + carnivorous tattoos + possessed cows + quite very dead nuns + savage vegetables + hahahahahaha those dialogues + withering genitals and liquefying bowels 😂😂 (don't ask) + dancing headless zombie rats (
Aug 03, 2022 rated it it was amazing
Is this that good? Does it actually deserve five stars? Probably not. I mean, it's okay. It may even be good. But it isn't necessarily a masterpiece.

Now, does it sit at the top of my 'guilty pleasures' list now next to The Eight and The Cold Between? Yes. (Disclaimer that these books have nothing in common other than me enjoying them for silly reasons).

So what did I like about this one? The cast of characters and the humor. They felt so alive. Like, I'm telling you: you've read this before, but
Slate, a skilled forger and lockpicker, has been set on a hopeless quest to find the source of giant clockwork killer robots that smash everything in their way, and stop them. To keep her inspired, she has a sharp-toothed tattoo that will eat her alive if she fails in or quits her mission. And to help her, she has Brenner, an assassin with whom she has a long history; Caliban, a demon-hunting outcast paladin of the Dreaming God; Learned Edmund, a female-fearing scholar-priest of the Many-Arme
Alienor ✘ French Frowner ✘
Well, this was wonderful and so funny and the best kind of weird : 4.5 stars I'm almost tempted to round up (and might on reread). ...more
Feb 26, 2021 rated it it was ok
Shelves: libby, ebook, fantasy
“Would you like to go on a suicide mission?” she asked instead. He smiled. It was the first genuine smile she’d seen all day. “I would be honored,” he said.

This was my second attempt at getting into Kingfisher's work and initially it was working really well for me. The first few chapters fly by as they set up the main plot with our cast of good characters and some great humor. Unfortunately my interest/enjoyment starting waning and by the end of the book I was just glad to be done (well not quit
Jamie Dacyczyn
2021 reread: Giving this one another read-through before starting the sequel, and....huh, I'll be darned....I actually liked this one a bit more on the 2nd time around. I'd even go so far as to call this a 3.5 star book. I remember feeling a bit turned off by the way some sexual stuff suddenly popped up around 3/4th of the way through the book, but now after reading "Swordheart" (which Kingfisher wrote later on, set in this same world, and which has SO MUCH talk about breasts) this one actually ...more
Nov 20, 2018 rated it it was amazing
High fantasy adventure written by Ursula Vernon (under her T. Kingfisher name) means that it's wry and humane and witty as well as fabulously imaginative. I am always a huge fan of disparate people (all of whom are on their last rope) being forced together and becoming a family! And I enjoyed this hugely.

It's the first book in a duology, and the ending is really NOT a true ending at all (or intended to be) - so I'm very glad the second book is already out, because I went straight on the second I
May 11, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: 2018
Five stars because this made me laugh all the way through, while also being quite serious. Love love the characters.
Sep 04, 2018 rated it really liked it
Shelves: read-ebooks
“You two,” said the paladin slowly, “have a very odd relationship.”

“Oh, come on, if your friends aren’t willing to strangle you, what kind of friends are they?”
Allison Hurd
May 23, 2019 rated it it was ok
Shelves: fantasy, fem-author
I think I like her retellings better so far. This was cute and all, but it didn't feel as alive as Bryony and Roses and the humor was more stilted.

CONTENT WARNING: (no actual spoilers, just a list of topics) (view spoiler)

Things to love:

-The story impetus. So many of these types of stories where bad guys have to go do a good guy thing don't make sense. I think this book handles it well and makes an old trope interesting.

Jun 10, 2022 rated it liked it
Although this book wasn’t that bad, it definitely was not my favorite T.Kingfisher novel. I found it hard to grasp my attention to until more than 50% through the novel. It wasn’t bad just I guess not for me. I’m not sure if I am going to read the second one. I probably will eventually.
Wiebke (1book1review)
Jan 03, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Oh this was so much fun.
This carries you on banter alone through the pages, but it sprinkles in an interesting fantasy world and some loveable characters with secrets and an overall quest to follow.
May 24, 2019 rated it liked it
Shelves: fantasy
This one is a solid three. I enjoyed it, but I didn't love it. If someone asked me "what have you read that's good lately", this one wouldn't get a mention. The characters seem pretty standard... the ultra good knight, the seedy assassin, the nerdy scholar, etc. I will continue on to the second book - which is really just the 2nd half of this one. Maybe my overall opinion will change.

So to sum up. Good book, but it shouldn't be at the top of your reading list.
I suppose, if you are being really nitpicky, that this doesn't have to be two short books. But who cares?

You have banter. You have emotion. You have the smart woman stuck with men who act like men. You have something like a dog. You have fantasy. You might not want a tattoo after reading this.

Oh, it was a fun read.
Dec 22, 2020 rated it liked it
We've all had this experience. You take a recipe, combine the ingredients to the letter, bake/cook at the correct temperature for exactly the right amount of time, carefully slice and present, only to find the end result isn't quite right. In taste, texture, appearance something went awry. So I find Clockwork Boys.

The premise is solid: A medieval kingdom is threatened by giant, seemingly invincible clockwork soldiers wreaking havoc on the countryside. A team of spys are recruited to venture to A
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T. Kingfisher is the vaguely absurd pen-name of Ursula Vernon. In another life, she writes children's books and weird comics, and has won the Hugo, Sequoyah, and Ursa Major awards, as well as a half-dozen Junior Library Guild selections.

This is the name she uses when writing things for grown-ups.

When she is not writing, she is probably out in the garden, trying to make eye contact with butterflies

Other books in the series

Clocktaur War (2 books)
  • The Wonder Engine (Clocktaur War #2)

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