Clockwork: Or All Wound Up


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.…

Long ago in Germany, a storyteller's story and an apprentice clockwork-maker's nightmare meet in a menacing,...

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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.…

Long ago in Germany, a storyteller's story and an apprentice clockwork-maker's nightmare meet in a menacing, lifelike figure created by the strange Dr. Kalmenius.

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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
In this tightly wound tale by the author of The Golden Compass and Count Karlstein, clockmaking and clockmakers serve as metaphors for fiction and its practitioners. The quaint (and aptly named) German village of Glockenheim sets great store in its clockmaking tradition: each time an apprentice becomes master of his craft, he commemorates the occasion by adding a new figure to the town's great clock. On the eve of one of these celebrations, a delectably spooky train of events is set in motion when the novelist Fritz sets out to entertain the villagers with his most recent work: the tale of Prince Florian, the deceased local ruler's son, whose fate is linked to a brilliant clockmaker. Fritz's narrative is interrupted by the arrival of a cloaked man who appears to have sprung straight from the pages of his novel: the aforementioned craftsman, enigmatic Dr. Kalmenius of Schatzberg, who has come--or so it seems--to help the gloomy apprentice clockmaker Karl achieve an unearned triumph in the next day's ceremonies. Meanwhile, poor Florian--whose time has nearly run out--stumbles into Glockenheim and finds the innkeeper's sweet daughter Gretl, the one person capable of restoring true life to the mechanical prince. In signature Pullman style, each character gets his or her just deserts with a fairy-tale ending that pays fitting and playful tribute to the story's twin obsessions: "So they both lived happily ever after; and that was how they all wound up." Gore's haunting black-and-white drawings both dramatize key events and reveal something of the characters' psyches. His visual artistry coupled with the luxurious design of this hand-sized volume makes this a tale to return to time after time. Ages 8-12. (Oct.)
The ALAN Review - Sam D. Gill
If O. Henry had written a book length work, I imagine it would be similar to Philip Pullman's Clockwork. This novel of intrigue features three characters: Gretl, the barmaid daughter of the local innkeeper; Karl, an apprentice clockmaker distraught over his failure to craft a figure for the town clock; and Fritz, whose unfinished thriller sets the gears of the novel turning. All three characters are spending a snowy evening in the tavern. A local writer, Fritz begins to read his latest story about a prince and a mad clockmaker, Dr. Kalemenius, when the door to the tavern flies open. In walks Dr. Kalemenius himself. Aghast, Fritz tosses his story into the fire, and the other tavern guests follow his hasty exit. Only apprentice Karl remains. Kalemenius then gives Karl the one thing that his heart desires-a finely wrought clockwork knight to display in the town clock. But there is a price to pay for evil Kalemenius' favor... Pullman's narrative voice has a wonderfully droll quality, and the prose is deceptively simple. The illustrations by Lenoid Gore add to a wintry feeling of claustrophobia. Younger readers will enjoy the story within a story that Pullman creates. The plot twists are delightful, and the characters, though not well-rounded, are sufficiently good or evil to be memorable. Others may share my disappointment with how abruptly Clockwork ends, especially after such a promising beginning.
VOYA - Donna Scanlon
A group of villagers gather in a tavern in a small German town on the night before Karl, apprentice to the clockmaker Herr Ringelmann, is to reveal his new figure for the great clock of Glockenheim. What the villagers and Herr Ringelmann do not know is that Karl has been unable to create a figure for the clock, and he is in the depths of despair. Karl confides his secret to Fritz, the novelist who has come to share his newest story, but Fritz has problems of his own-he has not finished his story, and he has no idea how it will end. His tale of a young prince and Dr. Kalmenius, a maker of clockworks, takes a sudden twist when Dr. Kalmenius appears in the inn. Fritz flees in fear when it appears that his story has come to life and fit Karl, serving girl Gretl, and the great clock into its components as neatly, relentlessly, and steadily as well-oiled clockwork. This is a dark, neat, and nifty tale that is accessible to younger readers but should also attract older fantasy readers, particularly fans of Pullman's still unfinished His Dark Materials (The Golden Compass [Del Rey, 1997/VOYA June 1998] and The Subtle Knife [Knopf, 1997/VOYA June 1998]) trilogy. The tale is seamless, resolving happily and convincingly, with both the good and brave and the craven and cowardly receiving appropriate rewards. Pullman laces his tale with subtle humor while maintaining the suspense until the end. Misty, moody, and atmospheric black-and-white drawings by Leonid Gore make a perfect fit for this gothic gem. VOYA Codes: 5Q 4P J S (Hard to imagine it being any better written, Broad general YA appeal, Junior High-defined as grades 7 to 9 and Senior High-defined as grades 10 to 12).
Children's Literature - Kathleen Karr
Pullman takes a sabbatical from his brilliant "His Dark Materials" trilogy to tell a smaller story steeped in the traditions of fantasy and fairy tale. In a small, medieval German town it is the evening before the local clockwork apprentice will unveil his masterwork for the town clock. Karl is morose because he has not completed his project. Enter the storyteller Fritz, Gretl, the innkeeper's young daughter, a mysterious prince, and the devil in disguise, as the story flashes backward and forward with the inexorableness of clockwork.
Children's Literature - Christine Hudak
The narrator invites the reader into the "old days" of a small German town where superstition and fascination with the mysteries of life are woven into the daily experiences of townsfolk. Upon entering the small local tavern on a cold snowy evening, the townsfolk are gathered in anticipation of the great event that takes place on the morrow. Karl, the young clockmaker's apprentice, is schedule to unveil his new figure for the great clock of Glockenheim. Two seemingly separate tales unfold through the character, Fritz the Storyteller, as he tells his new, unfinished tale to those present. Reminiscent of Grimm's Fairy Tales, the reader enters the dark world of magic, forests and suspense with "Prince Florian." The magic of Pullman is that he intertwines the present and the make-believe into a reality filled with greed, danger and bravery. Although the mood is somber, the young heroine, Gretl, surmounts the intangible obstacles through her simple goodness of heart. Pullman's style of writing elicits such strong visual images that one can feel the warmth from the fireplace and the snow swirls outside the little tavern window. The soft shadings of the 23 black and white illustrations complement the dimensions of mystery and elusiveness in the story by adding intensity to the text. A notable feature of this book is the 5 x 7-inch size. It retains the intimacy that the story elicits and fits snugly into the hand. This is a story that can be read aloud by families or privately by older readers.
Children's Literature - Jan Lieberman
How will Fritz the storyteller end the story he is relating to townspeople in the White Horse tavern? Karl, one of the listeners, is the clockmaker's apprentice. He has failed to make a new figure for the town clock and he dreads the humiliation he will face the next day. He is so entranced with Fritz's story that he doesn't care. Without warning, one of the characters of Fritz's story appears in the tavern, the evil clockmaker Dr. Kalmenius. Kalmenius offers Karl a clockwork figure with diabolical power. Sir Ironsoul is his name. Upon hearing the word "devil," he will stab the speaker in the throat! What will Karl do? To find out, you'll have to read this gothic fable. Pullman's books haunt you through complex characters, unusual settings, and intriguing plots.
School Library Journal
Gr 5-8-In a tavern in a small town in Germany, at an unspecified time in the past, a well-respected novelist begins to read aloud his new story, "Clockwork," even though he hasn't finished it-"He was just going to wind up the story, set it going, and make up the end when he got there." He relates a tale of horror that begins with a Prince who suddenly dies and is found to have a piece of clockwork instead of a heart. The Royal Physician decides to question Dr. Kalmenius, a brilliant clockmaster who is referred to as a "philosopher of the night." When that doctor actually enters the tavern as the novelist is reading, everyone leaves in fear, except apprentice-clockmaster Karl. Kalmenius then proposes to Karl a way out of his dilemma of not having crafted a new clock figurine to mark the upcoming end of his apprenticeship. He offers him Sir Ironsoul, a perfectly sculpted mechanical knight that comes alive; only one song can stop him from killing anyone who utters the word "devil." Suffice it to say without recounting a tantalizingly complicated plot, each character gets what he or she deserves. Pullman manages to weave together the threads from both the story and the story within the story in a book filled with tension, menace, and suspense. Whether or not readers understand the references to Faust, Frankenstein, The Velveteen Rabbit, and Pinocchio, they will remain riveted until the final page. Be prepared for many requests for this easy-to-sell title.-Ellen Fader, Multnomah County Library, Portland, OR
Michelle West
...[T]his is a story of clockwork, creativity, desperation, and love. It is dark and gloomy in tone; Pullman's ability to evoke menace is delightful, and possibly the strongest element of his work in this book.
Fantasy & Science Fiction
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781491572399
  • Publisher: Brilliance Audio
  • Publication date: 9/30/2014
  • Format: MP3 on CD
  • Product dimensions: 5.25 (w) x 6.75 (h) x 0.50 (d)

Meet the Author

Philip  Pullman
Philip Pullman’s His Dark Materials trilogy has sold more than fifteen million copies and has been published in more than forty countries. The first volume, The Golden Compass, was made into a major motion picture starring Nicole Kidman and Daniel Craig. Pullman is at work on a companion His Dark Materials novel, The Book of Dust. He lives in Oxford, England.

Good To Know

Interesting facts about Philip Pullman and his books:
  • The Amber Spyglass was the first children's book to be named the Whitbread Book of the Year.

  • Among the other awards Pullman has received are Britain's prestigious Eleanor Farjeon Award and the Astrid Lindgren Memorial Award (a sort of Nobel Prize for children's literature) honoring his entire body of work.

  • Pullman enjoys playing the piano. "I'd like to play it well," he quips on his website. "But I can't, so the rest of the family has to put up with my playing it badly."

  • Pullman persuaded his publisher to let him illustrate the first two books of His Dark Materials with small, symbolic pen and ink drawings at the start of each chapter. Although these illustrations were left out of first editions in the U.S., they have been included in later editions. The third book of the trilogy, The Amber Spyglass does not have illustrations, but chapters begin with quotations from some of Pullman's favorite writers, like John Milton, William Blake, and Emily Dickinson.

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      1. Hometown:
        Oxford, England
      1. Date of Birth:
        October 19, 1946
      2. Place of Birth:
        Norwich, England
      1. Education:
        Exeter College, Oxford University
      2. Website:

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