fantasy book reviews science fiction book reviewsfantasy book review Alan Campbell Deepgate Codex 3. God of ClocksGod of Clocks by Alan Campbell

God of Clocks is Alan Campbell’s third book in his Deepgate Codex. It is (save for the ending) better than Scar Night, but nowhere near as strong as Iron Angel.

In God of Clocks, the Spine assassin Rachel is reunited with the young angel Dill, though his soul is now enhoused in a monstrously tall (400’ I think) mechanical construct of an angel. They are joined by the thaumaturge Mina Greene (still with her strange dog) and the god Hasp, who is also transformed (though in much different fashion) and who is carrying a mind-controlling parasite that allows him to be ordered by any of a group of people to do whatever they tell him to, making him an untrustworthy ally. They are pursued by 12 other “archonites” as they try to reach the castle of the god of time Sabor in order to find a way to defeat King Menoa of Hell (who has just killed one of Sabor’s brothers). Meanwhile, John Anchor, joined by Alice Harper, pulls Cospinol’s ship into Hell to try to reach Menoa’s citadel to stop him there. Carnival plays her usual important role, as do several other characters, including a little girl with a submarine, a talking box, and several time-copies of the main characters.

One of the aspects that made Iron Angel so strong was its vivid imagination and originality. We see flashes of that here — the aforementioned talking box for instance, as well as a living river and a castle whose rooms exist in different times — but they don’t permeate the book as much as they did in Iron Angel. John Anchor is still a great character, but he’s really the only standout one. Sabor’s assistant adds some welcome humor and a sense of individuality, but he’s relatively minor. The problem, which has been a steady one over the series, is that many of the main characters just don’t breathe fully: Rachael, Dill, Menoa. Alice Harper and Carnival have potential, and some fine moments, but their potential isn’t fully realized (the same holds true for a few others). And Mina Greene is washed out a bit compared to her appearance in Iron Angel. Hasp, who had one of the greatest moments in Iron Angel, is just repetitive and mostly unlikable in God of Clocks. His situation should have made him the most compelling character, but instead you eventually dread almost any scene he’s in.

Campbell still does a good job mixing in some humor. And certainly the big picture story is a strong concept — a war of gods, humans caught between Hell and Heaven, a bold attempt to bring Heaven into the mix. And there are some wonderfully single scenes, especially those involving Carnival and Anchor. But it starts to bog down in the final quarter once time-traveling makes a major appearance (I should confess a bias against time-travel — it’s seldom done well and is often used as an easy out). It began mildly enough, became a bit annoying, then turned into a bit of a deus ex machina (somewhat literally). Where Iron Angel ended with a great bang, God of Clocks petered out, ending too abruptly and easily. I wasn’t even sure this was the actual ending to the series, it felt so incomplete.

In the end, a disappointment, but not really until the last part of the book. I’ll just repeat what I said about the series as a whole in my review of Iron Angel: Based on the solid Scar Night, the very strong Iron Angel, and the bit of a letdown though still decent God of Clocks, The Deepgate Codex is recommended; There are enough good moments to earn it a read.

Deepgate Codex — (2007-2012) Lye Street is a prequel. Iron Angel is called Penny Devil in the UK. Publisher: Suspended by chains over a seemingly bottomless abyss, the ancient city of Deepgate is home to a young angel, an assassin, and a psychotic murderer hungry for revenge — or redemption. But soon a shocking betrayal will unite all three in a desperate quest… The last of his line, Dill is descended from legendary Battle-archons who once defended the city. Forbidden to fly and untrained even to wield the great sword inherited from his forebears, he has become a figurehead for a dying tradition. Now he lives a sheltered existence in one of Deepgate’s crumbling temple spires under the watchful eye of the Presbyter who rules the city. Spine assassin Rachel Hael has better things to do than oversee the Presbyter’s angel. Each dark moon she must fight for her life among the city chains, hunting an immortal predator with a taste for blood. But when a traitor brings enemies to Deepgate’s doorstep, Dill and Rachel are forced into an uneasy alliance with the city’s oldest and most dangerous foe. They must journey down into the uncharted chasm to save their sprawling metropolis — and themselves — from annihilation. Once they descend however, they learn that what lies below is far more sinister than what they’ve been taught to expect.

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  • Bill Capossere

    BILL CAPOSSERE, who's been with us since June 2007, lives in Rochester NY, where he is an English adjunct by day and a writer by night. His essays and stories have appeared in Colorado Review, Rosebud, Alaska Quarterly, and other literary journals, along with a few anthologies, and been recognized in the "Notable Essays" section of Best American Essays. His children's work has appeared in several magazines, while his plays have been given stage readings at GEVA Theatre and Bristol Valley Playhouse. When he's not writing, reading, reviewing, or teaching, he can usually be found with his wife and son on the frisbee golf course or the ultimate frisbee field.