The Emperor of all Things Hardcover – 14 Feb 2013
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"A hugely entertaining read...comparisons to Neil Stephenson and Susanna Clarke are only very slightly premature. As with the finest timepiece, The Emperor of All Things is ultimately a rather beautiful thing." (Independent on Sunday)
"An excitingly and brilliantly realised, poetically written tale of magic, subterfuge and intrigue. Not to mention clocks." (SFFWORLD)
"Witcover conjuers an enlightenment-punk vision of England, before taking detours to the Alps, subterranean London and the utterly fantastic. ****" (SFX)
"Vividly evokes an authentically dangerous, dirty and smelly 18th century London Henry Fielding would recognize. . . a real page-turner which had me gripped" (HISTORICAL NOVELS REVIEW)
"Witcover's prose is playful yet persuasive...unrestrained by the conventions of any one genre...segueing seamlessly from wonder, whimsy and conspiracy to intrigue, espionage and action...thrilling." (TOR.COM)
In a reimagined 18th-century, England is at war with France and the race is on to track down a sinister time-piece - a pocket watch with the power to alter the course of history...and perhaps time itself - a thrilling historical fantasy that should strike a chord with readers of Susanna Clarke, Phillip Pullman and Neal Stephenson.See all Product description
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I am not usually interested in books about realms and worlds that do not exist, but this book dances on the line of reality and imagination with a dexterity that is akin to our own minds. The unknown is interwoven with our known world such that the one flows into the other. I am eagerly awaiting the sequel!
Far Far too many words to describe each story line.
Got three quarters of the way through and started scanning the pages to the end.
In this book the author, Paul Witcover, has turned this unassuming horologist into a swash buckling version of his real life self. Now he works as a regulator, or spy, for the Worshipful Company of Clockmakers, a trade guild based in the City of London, both in the story and in real life, although in the book guild doubles up as a sort of MI6 that spies on the Kings enemies abroad. The book is not steampunk in the strictest sense of the word as this would require it to be based in the Victorian era but this is essentially what it is with inventions that are way ahead of their time and situations arising that require use of tools and firearms that are far more advanced than they ever were in reality back then.
Over the course of the book Daniel Quare finds himself enmeshed in a story that takes in a Scottish spy working for the French, a Lord who whilst in his sixties is clearly younger than he should be for his age, and a woman who is not of this world but seems to be tied to Daniel for some strange reason.
The overarching theme of this story is time. The title of this book comes from the Latin motto of the Worshipful company of Clockmakers ‘Tempus Rerum Imperator’ or Time the Emperor of all Things. All the action centres around a strange pocket watch which Daniel is tasked to steal at the start of the book and one which has a very strange way of being brought to life. The story centres on the struggle by two factions within the guild for the control of this time piece and the history behind it.
Whilst I enjoyed this book, I had a number of problems with it. The first was the fact that it was so episodic. It is split into three parts, the first and last being the story of Daniel Quare whilst the middle section is the story of the creatures who were behind the watch that Daniel has found. It is told by way of exposition which is something I think you have to be quite sparing with. In this case it is told by a character in one long flashback which goes on for the best part of a third of the book. It brought the narrative to a juddering halt and, certainly from my perspective, was too long and not very convincing. This was a real shame as I really enjoyed the rest of the story. Unfortunately, any sense of overwhelming peril just disappeared for me because I didn’t find the creatures hiding behind the curtain to be that scary or believable.
Because the book has been split into three it also means that it is very long and could quite easily have been maybe fifty to a hundred pages shorter, making for a much tighter narrative.
There have been a few reviews here that have commented on the vernacular of the characters. I didn’t have a problem with that as I found it to be reasonably straight forward and lent a sense of authenticity to the characters within the book.
Overall not a bad book, in fact it’s quite good but the structure of it meant that I was in effect reading two stories not one and that came to be quite laborious.
For that reason I have given it three stars.
Yet for all the praise I give this, readers have to be aware that this is a little of a slow starter leaving the reader wondering what they're in for. But please, trust me, stick with it. Its definitely worth your time and when you reach that final page, you'll be clamouring for more. All in a right little cracker.