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Clockwork

Narrated by: Anton Lesser
Length: 1 hr and 31 mins
Categories: Children, Fiction
4.5 out of 5 stars (3 ratings)

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Publisher's Summary

A tormented apprentice clock-maker - and a deadly knight in armour. A mechanical prince - and the sinister Dr Kalmenius, who some say is the devil... Wind up these characters, fit them into a story on a cold winter's evening and suddenly life and the story begin to merge - almost like clockwork...

©1996 Philip Pullman (P)2014 Audible, Inc.

What listeners say about Clockwork

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Listened to it in the car with my kids

Trying to save my children from commercial radio I've been turning to audio books. I wasn't sure what to expect from this one but there was great interest and silence from my 9 year old son. We were both captivated by the story and the telling. when you find yourself sitting in the car spellbound waiting for the next part of the story instead of rushing into the house at the end of the day I guess you have to say you loved it

1 person found this helpful

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  • David
  • 17-02-2015

A modern clockwork fairy tale

I downloaded this from Audible this morning and listened to it while shoveling snow, wishing I had a clockwork automaton to do that for me.

Philip Pullman's Clockwork is a fairy tale set in Germany in (presumably) the 19th century, in a world where clockwork devices can be made so intricately precise that they can, if constructed by a particularly ingenious clockmaker, pass for little boys. There are elements of Pinocchio, Faust, and any number of Hans Christian Andersen fables in this story that actually weaves three stories together.

There is Franz, the storyteller who entertains the townspeople with fabulous and hair-raising stories, until he ends up invoking someone who shows up in the tavern while Franz is telling a tale about him.

Karl, the clockmaker's apprentice, approaching the day of the end of his apprenticeship where his great creation will emerge from the town clock tower, has a big problem: he hasn't actually created anything. So of course he is pulling his hair out and swearing he'd do anything to get out of this mess, and you know where that leads in fairy tales.

Finally, there is the story of the proud and arrogant prince and his pretty, fashionable wife, in need of an heir. When their only son dies stillborn, the prince goes looking for a replacement, and procures a clockwork boy.

Everything wraps up with the bad getting more or less what they deserved, the good living happily ever after. Pullman is a good storyteller, especially when he stays concise and doesn't drag trilogies off the rails in the final book (*cough* The Amber Spyglass *cough*). Clockwork really is just a modern fairy tale, so don't expect any brilliant subversion or some kind of steampunk twist.

28 people found this helpful

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  • Adeliese Baumann
  • 09-12-2014

Gather 'round and set it going

"Once upon a time, when time ran by clockwork, a strange event took place in a little German town. Actually, it was a series of events, all fitting together like the parts of a clock, and although each person saw a part, no one saw the whole of it."

So begins Pullman's enchanting story. It's a sweet winter's parable that combines a touch of Grimm with a touch of Goethe, with all the elements given life and great charm by the character actor Anton Lesser.

We listened to this last year as our "ghost story for Christmas," and it's back by popular demand this year! It's just the right length for such a story, and perfect for snowy weather.

Wishing you all that is merry and bright...

32 people found this helpful

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  • Ilana
  • 18-02-2015

The Brothers Grimm Would Have Approved

A young apprentice clockmaker is morose and desperate as he sits in Glockenheim's White Horse tavern on the last day of his apprenticeship; he has not been able to deliver a clock figure as all apprentices over the ages have done before him and his reputation is about to be ruined and he shares his despair with the town's storyteller, young Fritz. Fritz assures him that his difficulties are nothing compared to the hardships of creating stories, as he is expected to tell the townfolk gathered there his latest story in a few minutes, and though he has a new tale to tell them, he hasn't managed to write an ending for it in the night, but must somehow invent it as he goes along. And so begins a fantastic dark tale featuring a prince and princess and a dark forest and a suspicious ghastly death which features a mysterious character... who very suddenly appears in the tavern as Fritz introduces him in his storytelling and offers the apprentice a Faustian pact which promises to solve all his problems and bring him great fame and wealth, but will also put the lives of two innocent children in mortal danger. A wonderful tale in the tradition of the best Germanic storytellers of old such as E.T.A. Hoffmann and the Brothers Grimm, this is a tightly paced novella. Wonderfully narrated by Anton Lesser.

13 people found this helpful

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  • Jim "The Impatient"
  • 08-08-2017

IF YOU WANT TO BUY THINGS CHEAP,

IT HELPS TO BE RICH
Entertainment wise, I enjoyed the story. I love fairy tales and I am always glad to see modern authors take up the trade. This is in the children's section, but I must agree with other reviewers, that the story is way to complicated for children of any age. I was also confused at times as QPJ100, mentions, the story within a story, within a story, was confusing at times. I also agree with Dubi, the author does explain too much. It is up to the story teller to tell his story in way in which the audience understands, without being told what to understand. I rather a story be ambiguous, than have it explained to me.

If you are an adult who likes complicated fairy tales, you might want to give this a try. I did not give it five stars, but I am glad I got to listen to it.

SO THAT WAS HOW THEY ALL WOUND UP

87 people found this helpful

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  • Ruth Colon
  • 17-02-2015

Amazing!

what an amazing story! creative! never dull, short but very enjoyable with unexpected turn of events.

9 people found this helpful

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  • C Spencer
  • 17-02-2015

Great short listen

Very interesting story and the narrator makes this piece come to life. It is definitely a title I will enjoy listening to several times.

8 people found this helpful

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  • Georgia Burns
  • 24-06-2015

A reasonably interesting German fairy tale elevated considerably by the reader

Anton Lessor's versatile voice enlivens a so-so story. Attracted by the puzzle aspect of the title I was disappointed by how simple the story turned out to be. Fortunately, the narrator supplied a much needed attraction with the variety of voices he gave to the characters. He is particularly adept at portraying believable women and young girls where so many fall short. Will see what else he has in the catalogue. Not sorry I spent the time on this one. It was short and filled a day's commute nicely.

1 person found this helpful

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  • mahoneko
  • 08-06-2015

OK, but no subtle knife

A nice little children's horror story, not that special though pit attractive to adults . well put together.

1 person found this helpful

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  • Dubi
  • 09-03-2015

Fractured Fairy Tale

Like many readers, I only ever read Philip Pullman's Dark Materials series, starting with The Golden Compass. Clockwork provided an opportunity to sample another of his works, also a children's book, like most of his books. Now, I'm not sure if I want to try that again -- this just did not work for me.

I never think it's a good idea for a writer to explain his central metaphor, even to children who may otherwise not understand it. But to explain how clocks worked in a pre-electronic age, then tell us that stories can work the same way, then having one character write a story within the story called Clockwork, having another character make clockworks, and having a third who has clockwork instead of a heart, well, it's all just too much, and doesn't make all that much sense. I'm not sure how children can be expected to understand this when it is too convoluted for this adult, even with all the preamble about clockwork and metaphor.

The print edition is heavily illustrated, but I don't think the absence of illustration makes any difference. I could see how it might enhance the printed word, but the spoken word should hold water on its own. I don't see how pictures would make this tale any less nonsensical.

7 people found this helpful

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  • Patrick
  • 24-02-2015

Fantastic, Mysterious, and Horrific

Captivating from page one this book is simultaneously beautiful, enchanting and haunting; a story that will keep the audience guessing every step of the way. It is dark & a little scary, but it is absolutely brilliant! While listening to this, I occasionally felt as though I was back in school as a little kid, gathered around the teacher while clutching to every word wondering what will come next.

In the fascinating world of stories, anything is possible. If wonderful or magical things happen, we sometimes wish that we could be part of the story; if terrible or scary things happen, we sit in comfort knowing that we are safe in our own reality. Or are we? What if the characters from a terrifying story were to walk through our front door? What would we do then?

The narrator was excellent & made the story even better.

Overall: This book is a great stepping stone for introducing young readers & adults to the amazing works of Philip Pullman. Well worth your time.

3 people found this helpful

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  • Molly
  • 17-09-2013

Absolutely wonderful

If you could sum up Clockwork in three words, what would they be?

Spine-chilling, powerful and exciting

What did you like best about this story?

The clever plotting.

What about Anton Lesser’s performance did you like?

Anton Lesser is a brilliant actor, and he is able to be atmospheric but not intrusive.

4 people found this helpful

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  • MISS J A CALVO
  • 19-10-2017

Lovely story

A fun and lively story, like a bedtime story of old, lots of feeling of Grimm about it :)

3 people found this helpful

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  • Buyer
  • 02-05-2016

A wonderful story to listen by firelight.

What a wonderful story and so well narrated. Surely to be enjoyed by young and old alike. My children and I were enchanted by this clever tale within a tale, combining mystery, horror, love and imagination in equal measures. Highly recommended.

sful

2 people found this helpful

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  • Anne
  • 14-09-2013

A terrific tale slightly hammed up

Would you consider the audio edition of Clockwork to be better than the print version?

This is a gem of a story. It has a very interesting structure, that, as the title suggests, fits together like clockwork. I have read, and retread this story to myself and aloud to enthralled classes of year 4 (8-9 year old children) many, many times, and having listened to this narrator's slightly hammy performance, I will continue to do so.

Who was your favorite character and why?

There are a number of characters that I like: Gretl, the landlord's daughter is, like many of Pullman's female characters, the strongest and most moral of the characters. Karl is a weak willed and grumpy apprentice, who, rather than spend time learning his craft, opts to make a deal to get him out of a spot of bother, only to be faced with a bigger, more sinister spot of bother. I also like the character of Fritz, a story teller who, like Karl, isn't always prepared to see things through to the end. However, my favourite character, if he can be called such, is the Putzi, the cat.

What about Anton Lesser’s performance did you like?

His telling of the story is fine, his accents were rather iffy, although he clearly had fun hamming them up.

Did you have an emotional reaction to this book? Did it make you laugh or cry?

This is an enjoyable way to spend 90 minutes, and you will appreciate the story telling skills of Phillip Pullman, who has weaves together a lovely tale of love, sacrifice and clockwork figures.

1 person found this helpful

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  • julia
  • 22-05-2016

Enchanting

Nice little story, read perfectly by the narrater. Engaging as always with Philip Pullman...loved it

2 people found this helpful

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  • Anonymous User
  • 04-05-2020

Can't believe it's a children's book

Read it in advance of my 9 year old reading it at school and found it quite scary but exciting. Very well read by Anton Lesser.

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  • dub5
  • 06-11-2019

Superb narration

A fantastic, gripping story. Lesser tells it beautifully - accents and intensity really enhance it.

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  • Jeanette Nicholson
  • 17-06-2019

Perfect Pullman

A clever story that kept me listening right to the end, very reminiscent of the way old fairy tales were written, not the sugar coated drivel that some have been corrupted into, but with the elements of terror, humour and melancholy.

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  • Yikes!
  • 01-02-2019

A master story teller

Dark and brilliant. Stories about stories may seem a little self-indulgent, yet this tale is beautifully crafted.

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  • Ali
  • 22-11-2018

Loved every moment

This book is superb, a great story with a really fabulous narrator. Many twists and turns, I even had to pull into a layby to finish listening before i got home. Thanks for another great story Philip.