The Clockwork Dynasty Review

Title: The Clockwork Dynasty
Author: Daniel H. Wilson
Publisher: Doubleday
Genre: Science Fiction
Published: August 2017

Publisher’s summary: When a young anthropologist specializing in ancient technology uncovers a terrible secret concealed in the workings of a three-hundred-year-old mechanical doll, she is thrown into a hidden world that lurks just under the surface of our own. With her career and her life at stake, June Stefanov will ally with a remarkable traveler who exposes her to a reality she never imagined as they embark on an around-the-world adventure and discover breathtaking secrets of the past…


From ancient Chinese texts dating back to 1023 BC, to Greek mythology and Russian Tsars, Daniel H. Wilson, the acclaimed author of Robopocalypse and Robogenesis, carefully unearths stories and legends long forgotten and skillfully engineers a modern marvel. Combining history, technology, science fiction and fantasy, Wilson’s The Clockwork Dynasty is an imaginative look at a hidden world where avtomata, incredibly complex mechanical creations, live amongst humankind and battle, Terminator-style, for power and survival.

Toggling between past and present, The Clockwork Dynasty centers on two protagonists- Peter and June, one automaton and one human. Peter has been modeled after and created to serve Peter the Great, and like all avtomata, is driven by the one word that defines his existence. For Peter, this word is Pravda, which translates to mean truth/justice, however, when the Czar dies, Peter must reevaluate his purpose. Forced to flee Russia with his “sister” Elena, the two struggle to exist hidden among the living, chased through time and across the globe by powerful others who wish to destroy them.

Their astonishing journey through time intersects with that of June Stefanov, who suddenly finds herself being hunted down by an unstoppable assassin, a futuristic version of the clockwork artifacts she has studied from the past. With no time to react, June must rely on her instinct, skills and expertise to save herself and put together the pieces of a complex puzzle that dates back thousands of years.

So much more than just a high velocity techno-fantasy, The Clockwork Dynasty is an astonishing and imaginative novel with deep undertones which reminds its readers of ancient engineering marvels long forgotten, and examines artificial intelligence and technological advances of today and tomorrow. Equally important are themes of purpose, truth and identity.

With film rights already secured by 20th Century Fox, I look forward to seeing the film version, and hope it is as heart-stopping and thought-provoking as the novel, but with important questions in the book left unanswered, I’m hoping for a sequel and a deeper look into this hidden world.

An astonishing and imaginative techno-fantasy with deep undertones.