Author(s): Gareth Ward
This fantastic follow-up to the Storylines Tessa Duder Award-winning The Traitor and the Thief is just as exciting and action-packed as the first instalment.
Sin is dying, poisoned by his blue blood. His troubles deepen when the traitor who poisoned him escapes from the custody of the Covert Operations Group and sets out for revenge. COG tasks Sin, his friend Zonda Chubb and their frenemy Velvet Von Darque with recapturing the traitor, whatever the cost. Taking to the air in pursuit, they must battle skypirates and the terrifying Clockill to complete their mission. But with his condition worsening, can Sin survive long enough to save his friends, himself and the day?
Former street-urchin-turned-spy Sin, who we met in the award-winning The Traitor & the Thief, is being kept alive by injections after shadowy scientists transfused him with a blue blood that made him immune to poison and increased his strength. Sin feels he’s living a lie and his troubles deepen when the traitorous Eldritch Moons escapes from the custody of the Covert Operations Group and plots revenge.
Sin, his cake-loving best friend Zonda, and their frenemy Velvet Von Darque, must try to recapture him with COG’s latest gadget, but their pursuit finds them battling skypirates, a crazed scientist and the terrifying half-human half-machine Clockills. Knowing that there’s another traitor in their midst, it’s a race against time for Sin to save his friends, especially when his life-saving medicine disappears.
A fantastic steampunk adventure for age 11+, this sequel contains even more secrets, magic and gadgets. The characters sparkle, especially the effervescent Zonda, whose speech is littered with wonderful words like “fabuloso” and “meanarooney”. And Sin’s old boss the Fixer, a Fagin-like crime thug, makes another appearance too.
Sin discovers more about the mystery of his origins in Clockill, but with Ward “mulling over the plot” for a third book, there could be many more adventures in store for our hero yet.
Gareth Ward (aka The Great Wardini) is a magician, hypnotist, storyteller and bookseller. He has worked as a Royal Marine Commando, police officer, evil magician and zombie. We loved his first novel, The Traitor and the Thief, a rip-roaring steampunk adventure, and he has just released the second book in the series - The Clockill and the Thief.
Are there any books that influenced you in creating this series?
When I was about to embark on writing Traitor I had no idea what the book was about. All I knew was that the main character was Sin. I wandered around our bookshop and looked at all the wonderful stories and thought which ones do I wish I’d written? The Cherub series by Robert Muchamore jumped out at me and so I thought how can I take the concept of kids training to be spies and make it my own? Traitor, and now Clockill, are the result. I am also definitely influenced by Harry Potter, why wouldn’t you be? There was no deliberate attempt to emulate any of the novels but I loved them so much I can’t help but think some of the magic rubbed off. I love the Skulduggery Pleasant books. Although I don’t think they influenced Traitor too much, in my mind my new series has hints of a Steampunk Skulduggery Pleasant about it.
What exactly is steampunk?
Steampunk is simply a Victorian era setting with more fantastical technology than really existed. Originally Traitor was going to be set in Victorian times but then my overactive imagination started getting carried away with itself and I ended up creating the fantastical city of Coxford and the world of COG.
Is there anything that works better in Sin's world than it does in ours?
I never specifically mention it, but electricity has not been discovered in Sin’s world. For that reason they are significantly more ‘chemically’ advanced than we are, being able to make micro-boilers and human-mekanikal interfaces.
Is there a steampunk invention that we should be using now?
Sin uses a ZAPO lighter (Zinc Acid Pyrotechnic Originator). This was an invention I thought I was making up but it turns out the Victorians had invented something very similar.
How would our lives be different if we lived in a steampunk Aotearoa?
Our railways would certainly be better and we would be able to travel around the country via airship. The downside would be that the air would be full of smog and the landscape may be ravaged by the coal mines required to power our world.
What would a steampunk bookshop be like?
I think a Steampunk book shop would be like any good independent book shop except with more brass and those slidy ladders that go up to very high shelves, and perhaps a miniature steam railway to move books around the shop.
Why do you like Steampunk so much?
Steampunk is such a fun genre to write. You have the rich backdrop of the Victorian period which was such an interesting time from a scientific, political and industrial point of view. Then, because it’s a Steampunk world, you can let your imagination run free with wonderous inventions.
"A key theme of the Traitor series is the heroism of the individual set against the pointlessness of war and I guess this has come from some of my experiences." I saw this quote from you in a recent interview - can you expand on the importance of this theme for you and how it grew out of your experiences?
I have massive respect for the professional soldier, someone who is prepared to risk their life for the good of others. I have far less respect for the politicians who send young men and women off to die far too readily. When I joined the Royal Marines I was young and idealistic; I guess being trained by Commandos who had not long returned from the Falklands War opened my eyes to the reality of war.
What is a Clockill? Do I have to read the book to find out? It sounds dangerous!
No spoilers, you do have to read the book to find out. I will however clarify that they are pronounced Clock-Kill. They are very dangerous indeed, terrifying and nightmarish!
Is there any romance in your books? This is a very important question for our readers.
I think perhaps terming it as romance would be a bit misleading but the relationships between Sin, Zonda and Velvet certainly continue to build and there is a degree of jealousy and tension involved.
Did you read much as a kid? Do you think it matters?
I read loads as a kid. I loved to lose myself in stories, to live vicariously through the characters. That’s why I love to write, because now I am in control of my characters’ actions…mostly. Quite often the characters will surprise me.
What got you into magic?
When my children were four and five they wanted to do a magic show for some friends. We learned a few tricks and made my son disappear. I got the bug and joined a magicians’ society and it all went from there. My son has since returned, fortunately.
What's your best magic trick?
I don’t perform it any more but when my daughter was younger I used to put her in an impossibly small box and stick myriad umbrellas through it. We called it ‘The Umbrella Cabinet of Doom’. She has lived to tell the tale with only minor abrasions.
We hear you're writing a new YA series - tell us more... BUT does this mean there won't be any more books in the Traitor series?
I’ve written the first in a brand-new YA series which I hope will be out next year. It’s got two absolutely fantastic main characters and I can’t wait for the world to meet them. I would like there to be at least one more book in the Traitor series which I think would round out the main story line nicely. I have sketched out the outline for the book but at the end of the day publishing is a business so it will probably depend on how well Clockill does in the shops. So please, help spread the word ;-)
Imaginative and adventurous, 'posituitively karmarific'; can be read as a stand-alone. Highly recommewnded --- April
Gareth Ward (aka The Great Wardini) is a magician, hypnotist, storyteller and bookseller. He has worked as a Royal Marine Commando, police officer, evil magician and zombie, and as a writer and compere of Napier City’s inaugural steampunk murder mystery evening. Born near Oxford in the UK he currently lives in Hawke’s Bay, New Zealand, where he runs two independent bookshops with his wife Louise. His first novel The Traitor and the Thief, a rip-roaring steampunk adventure, won the 2016 Storylines Tessa Duder Award, the 2018 Sir Julius Vogel Award for Best Youth Novel and Best New Talent, and was a 2018 Storylines Notable Book.