The Emperor of All Things by Paul Witcover

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"Tempus Rerum Imperator: Time, Emperor of All Things" 1758. England is embroiled in a globe-spanning conflict that stretches from her North American colonies to Europe and beyond. Across the Channel, the French prepare for an invasion - an invasion rumored to be led by none other than Bonnie Prince Charlie. It seems the map of Europe is about to be redrawn. Yet behind these dramatic scenes, another war is raging - a war that will determine not just the fate of nations but of humanity itself...Daniel Quare is a journeyman in an ancient guild, The Worshipful Company of Clockmakers. He is also a Regulator, part of an elite network within the guild devoted to searching out and claiming for England's exclusive use any horological innovation that could give them an upperhand, whether in business or in war. Just such a mission has brought Quare to the London townhouse of eccentric collector, Lord Wichcote. He seeks a pocket watch rumoured to possess seemingly impossible properties that are more to do with magic than with any science familiar to Quare or to his superiors. And the strange timepiece has attracted the attention of others as well: the mysterious masked thief known only as Grimalkin, and a deadly French spy who stop at nothing to bring the prize back to his masters. Soon Quare finds himself on a dangerous trail of intrigue and murder that leads far from the world he knows into an otherwhere of dragons and demigods, in which nothing is as it seems...time least of all.
( synopsis)

Daniel Quare is a journeyman for the ancient guild called the Worshipful Company of Clockmakers. He wants nothing more than to rise the ranks of this prestigious guild but he cannot do that without first gaining some experience. The story starts with Quare attempting to steal a clock from the eccentric clock collector Lord Wichote, whilst on his mission he runs into the infamous clock thief Grimalkin and their encounter sets in motion events that will see Quare fighting for his life and coming into contact with things he would never have imagined.

What follows is one of the most absurd, hairpin, confusing and engrossing stories I have ever read.
If you enjoy reading fantasy, steampunk, crime or adventure fiction then this book is for you.
I have attempted to write a review for this book several times now and every time I find myself faltering for words to describe it. What with the Faustian character Theophilus Magnus also known as Mr Mephistopheles and all the other rather Dickensian characters it was unsurprising that this book had a little edge of magic surrounding it. Towards the middle of the book the magical edge transform into a full-blown fairytale-esque tale surrounding a bizarre clock and the village it resides in. I found myself, like Quare in the story, doing double takes and having to re-read pages to clarify what i had just read. This didn't put me off, in fact it did quite the opposite. The effect the story had on me was one of being a fantastical drug like trip. If any of you have ever read C.K Chesterton's The Man Who was Thursday you will know what I mean when I say Witcover's novel echoes the absurd way in which that story is written.
Throughout the novel there are nods towards modern-day inventions such as elevators, the London underground and even the internet that I think were a nice, humorous touch. It was an interesting thought that there may have been people in the 1700's who came up with the ideas that were implemented hundred's of years later.

What I liked most about this book and indeed was most impressed with was even though the story line is confusing, the main arc never falters. Witcover has managed to write a story that appears to be all over the place when in fact everything has its relevance in the bigger picture. He, like JKR, is a genius at the old Chekov's Gun trope. You may not think or even notice and important part of the story until much later on and then when it does hit you, you're like 'Oooohh that was clever.'

I haven't gone into any detail about the actual story line because to do so would be to spoil it. I wouldn't be able to mention anything without proper explanation and I want you all to go out and read the book for yourself! I am also excited that there's going to be a sequel as the ending left me wanting so much more!
I would definitely recommend The Emperor of All Things to anyone who is looking for an exciting read. I promise you, you won't be disappointed!