2011; 290 pages. Book 1 (out of three) of the Tinkerer’s Daughter series. New Author? : Yes. Genre : Steampunk Fantasy. Overall Rating : 7½*/10.
They call her Breeze. Her mother’s dead and her father, a soldier, has just been called back into the army of Astatia. What’s to be done about the child?
Fortunately, the dad knows of a tinkerman that lives alone, high up in the hills. It takes a bit of coaxing, but the tinker finally agrees to care for Breeze until the dad can return from the war. Which is a good thing, because the father really had no other option, despite the presence of a town nearby.
Because these are dangerous times, and there’s a different word the townsfolk would call Breeze if she had to stay among them.
What’s To Like...
The Tinkerer’s Daughter is the eponymous first book in a trilogy set in the same world as a pair of books I read a couple months ago, reviewed here and here. Those books seemed to assume the reader was already familiar with setting, and I wasn’t, and I later learned that The Tinkerer’s Daughter trilogy set the stage and built the world for these tales.
The genre is post-apocalyptic steampunk, and that will always catch my eye. The tinker is true to his moniker – always tinkering with something. Breeze is bored by the books in his library – they’re too “sciency”, but she soon joins him as they first build/reinvent a working steam engine, and follow it up by making a self-propelled airplane. The technical geek in me was thrilled.
It takes a while for the action to start. Jamie Sedgwick spends a lot of time detailing the setting, particularly how Breeze and the Tinker develop their father/daughter relationship. It was refreshing to read of a foster parent who doesn’t molest or abuse his ward. Along the way, we her about wargs and trolls, take a ride in a steamsleigh, and celebrate the Sowen Holiday, the “week of the dead”.
The storytelling is good enough to where you’re not bored with the dearth of thrills and spills. And once the action begins (around 41%), it doesn’t let up until the last page. Also, beneath all the excitement, Jamie Sedgwick examines two serious themes – the wastefulness of war, and the utter evilness of racism Or, to be more accurate, speciesism.
I think The Tinkerer’s Daughter was written for a YA audience, but as an adult, I liked it too. There is some bloodshed and other distasteful subjects, but war is ugly, and Sedgwick keeps the lurid details to a minimum.
There really wasn’t much to do, other than reading from Tinker’s collection of old books and journals. Unfortunately, these were almost all nonfiction sciency type stuff. The books were filled with words I didn’t know, about things I didn’t understand. Needless to say, none of it was very interesting. (loc. 370. As a scientist, I feel like I was just slightly insulted.)
I panicked and began to hyperventilate. Locked. Alone. I couldn’t understand a world like that. I couldn’t reach out, couldn’t touch or sense anything. Was this what it was like to be human? Was this what it meant to have no bond with the world, other than one’s outward senses? To touch, smell, and hear, but to never really feel anything? It was awful. Sickeningly awful. (loc. 1860)
The Tinkerer’s Daughter is free at Amazon right now. The other two books in the series, Tinker’s War and Blood And Steam, sell for $0.99 and $2.99 respectively. As noted in the previous reviews of Jamie Sedgwick’s books, this is his general pricing strategy, and I think it is a most effective one.
It seems men can always find a reason to kill one another. (loc. 341)
I’m not sure why this book is called The Tinkerer’s Daughter, since the foster parent is called “Tinker” or “The Tinker” throughout the book. Perhaps it’s because there already is a book at Amazon called The Tinker’s Daughter, and another one titled Mad Tinker’s Daughter.
The ending was good, albeit somewhat straightforward, and easy to predict. But it has a twist or two, and maybe YA readers will find it sufficiently satisfying. The writing didn’t “suck me in”, but it kept my interest the whole way, and I will probably end up reading at least Book 2 in this trilogy, due to the author’s clever pricing scheme.
7½ Stars. A solid effort, but then again I’ve yet to be disappointed by a Jamie Sedgwick book.