Tor, 2009. 373p
The usual caveat applies to this review.
This is an unusual one. It is nominally a fantasy yet about two thirds of the way through we suddenly encounter time travel and temporal paradoxes, which was in retrospect quite elegantly foreshadowed, and it begins to resemble more a work of SF. That was the point that the book, for me, sparked to life. Up to then it had been a (I hesitate to say typical, as Campbell’s skill as a writer elevates it above the norm) fantasy and consequently I found it difficult to engage with. And the solution one of the characters adopts to the deleterious consequences of her previous choices on the timeline she has thereby created is well out of the ordinary, not to say drastic.
Far from it merely happening there is also a rationale – a mechanism, no less – given for the ability to travel in time. The God of Clocks for whom the book is named inhabits a building where clocks abound and rooms with portals to other times open and close on their unwinding.
Certain characters from the two previous Deepgate Codex books reappear – Dill, Rachel Hael, John Anchor and also the angel, Carnival. The vision which illuminated the first, Scar Night, though, of the city Deepgate suspended on huge chains over a chasm, has been missing in the latter books, which suffer as a consequence since the setting lies closer to the default mediaeval of the general run of fantasy. There is also too much murder and mayhem for my tastes but this is evidently what aficionados of the form appreciate.
In God Of Clocks there is a quest, of sorts. So far, so fantasy. Yet at its end the status quo ante is not restored – or only in (small) part. This too is more characteristic of SF than of the standard fantasy novel. Is it possible that Campbell secretly yearns to be a writer of SF? Whatever, he is certainly twisting the tropes of fantasy in new directions.
(The book blurb states he lives in south Lancashire. I think that, just perhaps, might be south Lanarkshire.)