Crucible of Dust (The Clockwork Ascendancy - A Steampunk Saga)

Rated 4.40/5 based on 10 reviews
Hammond Flynn escaped the destruction of his home a broken man. Once, he was a knight of the Order of the Penitent Blade, but when the barrier between the physical and spiritual worlds collapsed over the Order's land, a tidal wave of destruction enveloped everything Flynn knew. He fled that day. As a refugee in Wightgate, Flynn struggles to leave behind a past that will not be so easily forgotten. More

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About C. James Leone

C. James Leone spends most of his day in a cubicle where a computer tells him what to do. It really is as fun as it sounds. Having discovered that happiness can be found when a person pursues their dream, he has decided to pursue his own dream of writing professionally. In his spare time, he enjoys gaming and most anything that sparks the imagination. If you'd like to find out more about his work or the world of the Clockwork Ascendancy, visit his website at

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Samantha Ryan reviewed on on June 8, 2012

The Main character is a younger/middle-aged gentleman (I believe) named Hammond Flynn who was once in a group called the “Order of the Penitent Blade”, a group in my mind was much like the knights of the Middle Ages duty bound to uphold the notion of Good, Purity, Strength, and Wellness for all. When a horrible event leaves him feeling defeated and suffering guilt and shame, he is left alone as his home town and his comrades are killed by a nefarious power. Without giving away the whole plot, the story “Crucible of Dust” follows Flynn as he attempts to face his past, and the horrifying and unexpected consequences he faces. Part fantasy, part steampunk, part action, and all literary, this book has it all. It is short, but oh so sweet. I highly recommend this book if you want something great to read that isn’t much of a time commitment, but has all the payoffs as a full-length novel.
(reviewed 38 days after purchase)
Stacy Decker reviewed on on June 5, 2012

AMAZING. Crucible of Dust is the first work I’ve read by debut author C. James Leone, and I certainly hope it won’t be the last. I really enjoyed this read, and I loved how the story unfolded with a patient grace and brilliant elegance. This was a refreshing change of pace from so many books that throw everything at you right off the bat. Much of the beginning of the story is introducing us to a motley cast of characters and solidifying their role in the hero’s quest for redemption. The last third or so is the ultimate showdown between good and evil that left me hungry for more. This is an excellent start to what I hope is more work from this author, as I would be very eager to see what happens with the characters (those still alive, that is) in the future.
(reviewed 34 days after purchase)
Anabella Johnson reviewed on on May 31, 2012

I have a hard time pigeonholing this novella into any particular category. The steampunk element was there, but not the driving force behind the story. It more added flavor. But there was also a sci-fi vibe and a lawless, dystopian feel. SO many worlds converging into one unique story that I, for one, hope is just the start to something more and something potentially great. I thought the way characters were introduced and the plot unfolded was nicely done, with not too much information given away right off the bat, but we are left to wonder many things that are explained in time. There is a smooth, almost poetic way the story is written that makes it easy to just keep reading and if there was a sequel (or prequel)to “Crucible” I would read it right now! Highly recommend for fans of unique and engaging fantasy.
(reviewed 31 days after purchase)
April Dawn reviewed on on May 28, 2012

This is different from my usual books, but I always enjoy reading different types of stories and discovering new authors. And that is what I felt like I did here…”discovered” a new author. The plot itself was just a bit “so-so” for me…felt like a lot of information packed into a short period of time and I wish I could have seen more of the characters in action. I wish there was more (…MUCH more) of Ana, and I wish we knew more of her story. I never was clear on if Cristof really was bad, when Ana seemed to indicate his reasons for sending Flynn back to break into the lab. And what was found in the notebook? I guess I just wish I had more answers to what happened with everything. It was good, just not enough information for me.
(reviewed 26 days after purchase)
Karen Matthews reviewed on on May 25, 2012

I really enjoyed this story, as it had so many interesting characters and events in such a short time frame. I liked the character of the priest, and thought what happened to him was crazy! I did like Flynn and felt that the author had the “reluctant hero” role down pat. A few things I didn’t really like were that there were a few times that names or places were mentioned but I had no idea what it was or why was important. I do feel like I eventually caught up and it was made clearer, but sometimes I had to go back and re-read a few sections to see if I had missed something. Also, I thought that while the descriptions of the people were really good, sometimes it was just too much, like every person who entered the story had to be described head to toe and it slowed down the story. But other than those minor things I really liked it and appreciated the way the genres of fantasy, steampunk, and literary blended together to create such a mesmerizing tale of strength and redemption and the fight of good and evil.
(reviewed 22 days after purchase)
Jesse Thomas reviewed on on May 21, 2012

Hammond Flynn is a man who has some demons to face (literally). As a former Knight of the Order of the Penitent Blade, he watched as everyone he knew and cared for were destroyed by an evil supernatural power. Unable to stop it or save his men, he lives his life in guilt and despair until he is summoned to the side of the town’s most powerful criminal mastermind and is forced to do his bidding. But Flynn runs into something even more powerful and sinister than the shady mobster who sent him on the mission to his former friend’s lab. What happens there is more than anyone could’ve expected, and forces Flynn to fight one last time. Will he be victorious? Or will his demons beat him once and for all?

I thought the plight of Flynn and his need to do the right thing and somehow redeem himself if only a bit in his own eyes made him a sympethic hero and one we could root for. I appreciated that the author filled us in on the details of his life and past traumas without weighing us down, but at times I felt too much attention was given to certain things that didn’t really matter and maybe not enough to what really did. Maybe this was my own personal thing because I feel like I wanted to know more about the story BEFORE the story, and as it was told it just kept making me want to know more. But this is a good thing because I really want to read more and feel this piece only whetted my appetite.
(reviewed 18 days after purchase)
Mark Williams reviewed on on May 17, 2012

I thought this novella by C. James Leone was quite impressive for a debut. He shows himself to me a master wordsman who is capable of conjuring immensely appealing prose. However, as much as I enjoyed the narrative, I found the pacing to be a bit slow for my tastes, especially right off the bat. I was lulled into the story by the great writing, but I felt like I kept waiting for the characters to actually do something. Much of the most interesting parts of the story come by way of being “told” to us, either as backstory or a flashback, but what is happening in the NOW only really picks up steam towards the last quarter or so. Granted, when it does take off it really takes off, and the action and climax had me turning the pages of my kindle as fast as I possibly could. I hope there is more to this story as I was just really starting to get into it when it came to an end. Will be looking for more works by this author in the future.
(reviewed the day of purchase)
Kaylee Stevens reviewed on on May 13, 2012

It is clear that this was written by a pro who knows his craft. Perfect editing and grammar, beautiful sentence structure, the words strung together in a way that just flowed off the page (screen) and created this gritty, magical world in my mind. The world was incredibly original and picturesque with a steampunk/supernatural setting, and the plot unfolded at a natural pace and never felt forced or contrived. I haven’t read many of these types of books before but I just might start! I don’t know if this was the prequel to a series to come but I hope so. I’m hooked!! I want there to be a longer novel about all that happened to Flynn and his Order and the Sundering. It sounded so interesting and I wish we could see it happen as it really did, instead of it being what happened in the past. Recommend for those who enjoy beautiful writing and a moving story with action, surprises, and character study.
(reviewed 13 days after purchase)
Sophia Renee reviewed on on May 9, 2012

To me this book was the equivalent of literary cheesecake or fudge…a little goes a looong waay! So packed with evocative characters and descriptions about this weird and fantastical world that hinges on reality and the supernatural, Crucible of Dust is written in the same vein as many classic fantasy masterpieces that have come before (some of the writing was reminiscent of Tolkein, some of George R.R. Martain) with words being used to paint the canvas of the authors imaginative and wildly creative mind. This story literally has a little bit of everything…a real guy (our down-on-his-luck hero, Flynn), people who were connected with machines, supernatural beings and energies, demons, a little bit of romance (very little!), action, suspense…so much in such a short amount of pages, I really hope there will be a full-length novel to follow because I would definitely be buying it!
(reviewed 8 days after purchase)
Claire Middleton reviewed on on May 6, 2012

When I first started this novella, I thought it would be a quick, light read. Boy was I wrong! I quickly realized this book was nothing to be taken lightly and settled in for the ride. And what a journey it was! What it lacks in word count it more than makes up for in a caliber of writing rarely found in Ebooks (at least what I’ve seen). Leone manages to weave more intricate storylines in half the time it takes other books. This story is dense with emotion, intrigue, imaginative world building and a gripping plot. An absolute steal at 99 cents, and you owe it to yourself to take a peek. You won’t regret it. Recommend for almost anyone, fans of fantasy, supernatural, steampunk, action…there are some scenes of violence towards the end that may not be suitable for younger children, but is probably okay for ages sixteen and up.
(reviewed 6 days after purchase)
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