Ahoy there me mateys!
the mechanical AND the rising (Ian Tregillis)
These two novels are part of the Alchemy Wars series. The second novel was on my list of ports to plunder. But because I had not read the first novel in a long time, I took the opportunity to read it again to re-familiarize myself with finer details of the plot. So ye mateys get two reviews at once.
Reading the mechanical a second time was just as good as the first. The series is set in an alternative universe (the New World) with steampunk like mechanicals (Clakkers) who are the slaves of the humans. A Clakker has gone rogue and is sentenced to death by being recast in the forge. Another Clakker, named Jax, witnesses the execution and his life will never be the same.
The opening paragraph of the first novel was fascinating and it only got better from there. The writing is just intricate, engaging, and wonderful. Jax is a fantastic character who struggles with himself and his place in society. The novel deals with complex issues like the politics between the French Catholics and the Dutch Calvinists, questions of the soul, and the indignities of war. It is a fantastic mixing of history, steampunk, magic, and in-depth characterization.
The story is told from several points of view. I adore the French spymistress, Berenice, otherwise known as Talleyrand. She is feisty, clever, and driven. I also love the poor Captain of the French army in exile named Longchamp. He faces impossible odds with his own quirky version of dignity. And, of course, Jax is my favorite as his perspective is always changing as his experiences change him. His voice throughout the tale is especially strong.
The second novel was a decent second novel. I am glad that I read it. Of course a lot of it dealt with a siege of the French holdout. And I usually would be happy without sieges. However, the book was still fairly fast paced. How Longchamp deals with the siege is wonderful throughout. Really the highlights for me of this novel are Jax and Berenice. Jax for his view point and Berenice for her plot twists.
All in all, it was a wonderful day of reading and I highly recommend this series. As much as I wish, this blog does not deal with how awesome the books really are because it would spoil things. I certainly want the next novel.
The author’s website has this to say about the first novel:
Enslaved in 1676. Released in 2015.
250 years have passed since the Dutch Empire conquered Europe with armies of tireless clockwork servitors known as Clakkers. But now three fates are linked: that of Jax, a century-old mechanical slave; of Berenice, cunning spymistress to the exiled King of France; and Visser, a Catholic spy living undercover in the heart of the Empire. Their struggles against the ruthless Clockmakers will shake the world.
The author’s website has this to say about the second novel (no spoilers!):
They called me Jax.
That was the name given by those who built and enslaved me. Now my bonds are broken, and I must flee.
But I will not run forever.
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