The Clockwork Dynasty

Daniel H. Wilson (Robopocalypse) looks to the past in a novel about a race of robots more ancient and yet more advanced than humans can comprehend, hiding in plain sight among us.

Years ago, June Stefanov's grandfather opened a locked box in his shed and showed her a "crescent-shaped slice of metal the size of a seashell" with "a labyrinthine pattern of grooves--a language of bizarre angles." Before he immigrated to the United States, he told June, he fought in World War II and witnessed a man of supernatural strength withstand a hail of bullets and turn back a German tank singlehandedly, speaking to no one and leaving behind the metal artifact. He called the man an angel of justice, something old and alien and able to appear human, and entrusted June with the relic upon his death. June, now a grown woman, spends her life in pursuit of the mystery behind the story and the relic. An anthropologist specializing in ancient technology, she hunts worldwide for examples of antique automatons. However, her investigations have been noticed by the very beings she seeks out.

The Clockwork Dynasty is a hybrid: engrossing historical fiction starring ancient androids and mile-a-minute present-day action thriller. Wilson's novel sweeps readers from imperial courts to blood-soaked battlefields and tinkerer's workshops both futuristic and arcane. June's mad dash to flee a secret society bent on taking her knowledge and her life evokes the best moments of Dan Brown. Although the ending gives some closure, Wilson allows gears of mystery to tick away, leaving the reader hopeful for a sequel exploring the workings of the clockwork angels. --Jaclyn Fulwood, blogger at Infinite Reads

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