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Who Watches the Watchmaker?
Created by ggrihn on 8/21/2015 2:48:48 PM

The Watchmaker of Filigree Street, by Natasha Pulley

Reviewed by Gregory G.H. Rihn, Steampunk Chronicle Literary Editor

What do you do when a person you like as a friend turns out to have a potentially terrible power, and that he's intent on using it for your good—whether you want it or not?

That's the dilemma protagonist Thaniel Steepleton is faced with in The Watchmaker of Filigree Street. A low-level clerk in Her Majesty's Home Office, he is planted to spy on watchmaker Keita Mori, who is suspected of involvement in the Fenian bombing of Scotland Yard. While finding friendship with the strange Japanese—a baron and samurai who has come to England to make clockworks—Thaniel discovers that he is also much more.

The Watchmaker of Filigree Street marks the maturity of the Steampunk novel. While Steampunk elements, notably Mori's fantastic clockworks, are keys to the plot, the true story is about friendship, trust, desire, morality, and free will in the Steampunk context. The story plays out against a backdrop of historical events, ranging from the Scotland Yard bombing of May 30th, 1884, to the premier of Gilbert and Sullivan's The Mikado (historically on March 14, 1885). Along the way, there is considerable thought given to time, probability, and the scientific method, particularly as applied to the search for "luminiferous ether," which is the particular quest of budding scientist Grace Carrow, who becomes involved in the intrigue roiling around Mori.

The story is engagingly told, with likeable and sympathetic characters, and some creative deviations from the standard narrative structure.

Highly recommended.

The Watchmaker of Filigree Street


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