The Artificer's Knot de Eric Lewis

de Eric Lewis - Género: English
libro gratis The Artificer's Knot


Eric Lewis Year: 2024

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Review originally on JamReads

The Artificer's Knot is a standalone gaslamp fantasy novel, written by Eric Lewis, and set in the same world as his Heron Kings series; putting the focus on Randyll Tephius, an artificer that was expelled from the University as his thesis on alternative energy sources challenges the Vril monopoly that is controlled by the Alchemists. In disgrace, he's surviving in the streets until he's rescued by the mob boss Gouger Nebb, who is looking for a way to get out of this life.

Slowly gaining Nebb's trust, Ran starts climbing in the gang hierarchy due to his inventive and ability to do other tasks people in the gang are unable. Finally, Nebb decides to fund him to create an oil plant, thinking on it as his retirement plant; however, even if Ran wasn't intending to become a mob, soon he finds that his efforts are received with sabotage from other gangs and from the own Alchemists that destroyed his life. Ran just wanted to recover his old life and prestige, but he will find himself in the middle of a war between the powers that control the city.

With this proposal, Lewis masterfully weaves a classical mafia story with a subplot about the energy sources, without hiding the influences from classics of the genre, such as The Godfather and Peaky Blinders, even including some easter eggs that are a delight to read, paying an homage to it. A dirty war on the city that will end involving the own law enforcement corps and that will reach the high spheres of the power; all in a well-paced plot that is not shy about portraying the darkest aspects of it.

Randyll is an interesting character, a bit arrogant due to his origins, but who has been hit hard by life; ascending from the ground will require him to embrace the worst aspects of humanity, even if he wasn't ready for the mob life. We also have the opportunity to see how he has a soft spot for those he appreciates; he's not a bad man, but one that life has not treated well.
While secondary characters are not as well developed, we spend enough time with many of them to slowly develop a bond with them; especially with Nebb. He is a gang boss, but it's not cruel; just fair and do what it is needed to maintain the status quo (I would say that Thomas Shelby could be a good parallelism).

The setting helps the story, a country that has experienced a fast industrial revolution with all based in the Vril, a product that is tightly controlled by the Alchemists, becoming the source of their power. New energy sources are threatening it, and that's why they sabotage anybody that might introduce alternatives to Vril.

In definitive, The Artificer's Knot is a great novel, a story about a man that descends to the crime world in order to finally climb out of the pit; if you classic gang/mafia stories, you will for sure enjoy it. I'm curious to read more instalments in the same world, as it has a ton of potential.

4 s The Reading Ruru (Kerry) 458 25

3.5 stars

I read an ARC of The Artificers Knot as I enjoyed Eric Lewis's entry in SPFBO9 - The Heron Kings Rampant.
I had a good time reading this; if you enjoy books with alchemy, backstabbing and double crossing gangsters added with madman with a zealous bent to overthrow the government or crown then this book is for you too.
There's nothing startling or new here but it's an all round good fantasy novel.1 Lorefnon3 1 follower

I thoroughly enjoyed the Artificer's knot. It is a nice casual read, not particularly dark, with a good mix of suspense and spywork. It will appeal to a wide spectrum of readers- esp. those who enjoy detective fiction or progression fantasies despite the story being quite different from the canonical works in these genres.

The plotline is not overtly complex and the fast paced narration with just enough twists and turns keeps the reader hooked till the very end.

The characters are quite able. Ran is daring, innovative and intelligent and poised to play a pivotal role in the industrial revolution of this mythical world. The positive portrayal of oil as a saviour for the society was somewhat strange, but a few subtle cues towards the end hint that a cleaner future maybe in the horizon.

The concept of the Artificer's knot was quite intriguing too and sent me down on a mini research project on the internet looking for various knot types and their characteristics.

I'll definitely look forward to future books in this series, and author's other works too.

I received a free copy of this book via Booksprout and am voluntarily leaving a review.fiction-casual1 Saif Shaikh22 2

Advanced Review Copy provided by the author in exchange for an honest review. Thank you BookSirens.

Score: 2.5/5 (rounded to 3)

Since this is an ARC, the review aims to be as Spoiler-free as possible.

Read this review and more on my Medium Page: Distorted Visions

The Artificer’s Knot is what you get if you wrote a season of Peaky Blinders in a steampunk-adjacent world. A tale of a rising upstart climbing the gangster underbelly with nothing but his wits and guiles, with instances of unly friendships and entirely ly betrayals, this novel is a paint-by-numbers story with all the requisite twists and turns.

After a bit of digging around, I find that The Artificer’s Knot is a prequel of sorts to Lewis’ 2023 novel The Heron Rampant which is also part of his Heron Kings series. However, this novel is self-contained but has worldbuilding elements that I assume carry forward into his other books.

The Artificer’s Knot follows the tale of our protagonist Ran (Randyll Tephius), the titular artificer (something between an engineer and a scientist). He is booted from his University for carrying out potentially hazardous (and potentially paradigm-breaking) research. He finds himself picked up by Nebb, one of the two kingpin bosses of the city’s criminal underworld, who wants to use his brilliance to maximize his profits. Of course, Ran has plans to get back at the hidden hands at the University that cursed him to his fate, as well as chase his dreams.

The world in The Artificer’s Knot is low-fantasy, steampunk-adjacent, with next to no magical elements. The steampunk elements are also extremely barebones and no innovative thought is put into creating interesting steampunk elements ( Mortal Engines, or Senlin Ascends). The general vibe has several parallels to the hit show Peaky Blinders with its characterization and basic plot themes but lacks any of the show’s depth, nuance, or complexity. Instead, we get a lukewarm plot with caricaturish one-dimensional wooden characters that are incredibly difficult to root for.

The major players are Nebb, a “benevolent tyrant” gangsta boss, who had perhaps two fingers worth of depth to his characterization beyond the “you can't betray the King, I am the King” bravado, and Filene (play on Feline?) serves as Ran’s romantic interest, with little to know development. A pale comparison to Thomas Shelby’s counterpart Grace. There is a smattering of other stereotypical thugs, mustache-twirling aristocrats, and uber-capable scary Copper. But none of these characters are particularly novel or noteworthy.

The worst character is our protagonist Ran. Ran’s predilection to be an expert at any engineering task or scientific problem is so exquisite that it borders on savant. As an engineer, I am keenly aware that NOBODY is so acutely able to look at systems and devise solutions as deftly as Ran does throughout the novel, with little to no testing, no errors, and complete accuracy.

It became incredibly difficult to relate or invest in Ran’s character development as he was written to be so infallible, that at no point was there ever any tension created with regard to his wellbeing, even though he is put through a few timid and stereotypical hitches. A walking Gary Stu with Deus Ex Machina-esque powers, his entire character brief is nigh unbelievable and breaks immersion.

Along with Ran’s god-tier, immersion-breaking prowess, is the pacing of the novel. It was unclear how many days/weeks/months were spanned in the plot of the novel, but the passage of time felt eerily quick, making the plot beats very checkpoint-y and none of the high points in the structure felt earned. The short length of The Artificer’s Knot works against its plotting, as there was simply not enough space afforded to the plot or the characters to develop fruitfully. The conclusion felt extremely rushed and entirely unrewarding. With so many beats forcing the reader to compare the novel to Peaky Blinders, the difference in quality is even more stark and impossible to ignore.

The story would have been better served either as a duology or trilogy, or exploring a much smaller plot scope. However, I provide two caveats to this critique; Firstly, my own bias towards preferring longer trilogies makes that format my default yardstick for plot depth so standalone always feels a tad empty to me. Secondly, since discovering that The Artificer’s Knot fits within the larger Heron Kings series, it puts the standalone in a different perspective, and the format does work relatively well as a self-contained prequel of sorts.

All things considered, The Artificer’s Knot is a quick, fun, read, but readers should not expect any genre-breaking twists, or wow moments in either plot, characters, or world.

As an aside, do yourselves a favor and read Peter McLean’s War For The Rose Throne series for a compelling fantasy gangster/espionage thriller. I understand that he helped as an advisor to Eric Lewis for his series, but we must defer to the Master Gangster!arc steampunk Sylvi Christin135 26


3,5 stars

Ran is thrown arse over kettle out of his academic pursuit. All hopes and dreams shattered, he wanders the streets, and nearly offs himself off a bridge. Until Gouger Nebb - the most notorious gang boss in the city - finds him, and upends his life completely.

All I’m left with right now is a profound sense of «this is the sweetest book I’ve read all year!»

Because if there is such a thing as a cute gangster gaslamp fantasy novel, then this is is. Lighthearted and mid-paced, but not silly. Serious enough to stay interesting, but not so serious to become dark. Everything is very tastefully written, and neither gets hyperbolic nor graphic, as it sometimes does in stories of this format. I really how down to earth Lewis appears on the page, even as we enter this cutthroat fantasyverse.

I kept being reminded of works «Tintin», «Twenty Thousand Leagues Under The Seas,» and sometimes «Assassin’s Creed: Syndicate».

Ran and Nebb - one academic-turned-gutter-rat, the other an ironhearted gangster boss - are somehow just the adorablest pair I’ve encountered all year (yeah, I said it).

The most interesting phenomenon I encountered in this book was that it didn’t APPEAR Lewis was putting too much effort into making me care about the characters (especially the side characters), but I still found myself mentally saluting each and every one as they went down. Even the bad ones. Which was a curious feeling indeed.

If this was to merit a full five stars from me, I’m missing some more complexity in the characters, and a little more consistency in the plot. But that would take the easygoingness out of it, and we don’t want that either.

Even so, all in all this might be one of the most memorable books in my reading year so far, just because of the sweet tone of the story contrasted with the gritty backdropping. Lawrence536 3

I was impressed with how this story wove together elements of organized crime and steampunk. It also managed to take a slightly different slant on steampunk.
The main character, Ran, was once on track to graduate as one of his country’s elite, an Alchemist, when his own ingenuity unwittingly creates a threat to the very thing that keeps the Alchemists at the top of society, energy production. Thrown out of University on false charges, he is homeless. His assault on the street at the edge of two intersecting gangs brings him to a crime boss that recognizes his skill.
The organized crime portion revolves around Ran’s use of his University training to improve and increase “business” opportunities, and the rivalries surrounding that business. The steampunk element involves the setting in a Victorian style world with innovations that would not normally be associated with that era.
The action segments were fast paced. The science was clever. The schemes of each party were good for conflict.
I received an advanced copy through BookSirens, and I am leaving this review voluntarily.
received-for-review B.J. SikesAuthor 8 books12

Great read! I really enjoyed the steampunk-esque world that was NOT Earth with lots of cool technology. The society seemed both familiar while also unique to the world. The street gangs felt realistic as were their corrupt counterparts, the aristocrats.
The plot had plenty of twists and turns and there was a lot of action.
I didn't love the main character though. Especially at the beginning, he came off as whiny and arrogant. He matured some but I never warmed to him. The character development isn't very deep for any of the characters.
Overall, a fun adventure with a ton of fantasy engineering. Viking Jam1,209 15

Genre: Steampunk

Review: Another great installment in the land of Carsolan with many twists and turns that will keep you up late in the evening. All the characters are well buildt and fun to follow.

This world is unique and that is what I love about it. You might say that it is edgey steampunkian 1800's industrial London with some Oliver Twist thrown in on top of Gangs of New York.

Rating: 4.7/55 Ink671 16

The Artificers Knot by Eric Lewis was an interesting crossover of Steampunk, Mystery and a little bit of Mob shenanigans thrown in. The storylines were complementary and well constructed and it was a quick but enjoyable read. It is a great introduction to a series with fantastic potential and I look forward to seeing how it progresses

I received an advance review copy for free, and I am leaving this review voluntarily.booksirens Mark678 12

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