My name is Jax.
That is the name granted to me by my human masters.
I am a slave.
But I shall be free.
Set in a world that might have been, of mechanical men and alchemical dreams, the new novel from Ian Tregillis confirms his place as one of the most original new voices in speculative fiction.
PRAISE FOR IAN TREGILLIS
"A major new talent." George R.R. Martin
"Tremendous." Cory Doctorow
"Addictively brilliant." io9
"Exciting and intense." Publishers Weekly
"Eloquent and utterly compelling." Kirkus
Tregillis (Something More Than Night) launches a series with this superb alternate history filled with clockwork men and ethical questions on the nature of free will. The Calvinist Dutch empire, with the help of the mechanical soldiers ("Clakkers") that are imbued with intelligence and enslaved through magic, has been dominant since defeating the French in the 17th century. Two centuries later, their only opponents are small French and Papal outposts in the New World. Against this background, French spymaster Berenice Charlotte de Mornay-P rigord, Vicomtesse de Laval, attempts to manage her secret agents abroad. One of those agents is Father Luuk Visser, a Catholic priest undercover as a pastor in the Hague, who knows he's soon going to be exposed. He uses one of the Clakkers, Jax, to smuggle an item across the Atlantic. As Berenice, Luuk, and Jax go on their separate journeys (only briefly intersecting), they uncover multiple dastardly plots, learn terrifying secrets, and have to cope with knowing that all three of them have destroyed innocent lives. Tregillis's complex setting is elegantly delivered, and the rich characters and gripping story really make this tale soar.
Customer ReviewsSee All
Compelling & original, and well worth your time
I read a lot, much of it science fiction and fantasy--my favorite authors include Heinlein, Delany, Ellison, Brunner, Gibson, Jon Wright, Iain Banks, Simmons, Rajaniemi. I tend to stay away from steampunk because much of it is derivative or simply extensions of other people's ideas with small twists.
In the case of "The Mechanical", Tregillis creates and successfully fleshes out a world with an alternate history and then extends that history several hundred years to the point in time when the novel takes place. But what makes this particularly impressive isn't just the creativity of the alternate history the author creates (although I was impressed by Tregillis' imagining of this alternate history and its implications) per se, but rather what Tregillis does with that world and how he uses it to create a fast-paced story and explore some deep metaphysical ideas.
This is one of the great imaginative works of fiction for 2015. The "Ancillary" series by Anne Leckie, in some sense comparable to this novel in that its protagonist is a synthetic intelligence, has won stunning numbers of awards, and has many strengths, but it is not half as readable as this novel is.
I am really looking forward to the rest of the Alchemy Wars series and where Tregillis takes this.
Brilliant and touching
I completely enjoyed the author's Milkweed tryptich and was really looking forward to this book.
I wasn't disappointed. Not in the least :)
The author has an impressive way of describing science as magic and magic as science. You don't get bogged down in the scientific details but still there's just enough explanation to keep you thinking.
In the end, the characters are very compelling and beckon investment in their situation. This is one extremely promising writer. Bravo!