The second book in the Alchemy Wars trilogy by Ian Tregillis, an epic tale of liberation and war.
Jax, a rogue Clakker, has wreaked havoc upon the Clockmakers' Guild by destroying the Grand Forge. Reborn in the flames, he must begin his life as a free Clakker, but liberation proves its own burden.
Berenice, formerly the legendary spymaster of New France, mastermind behind her nation's attempts to undermine the Dutch Hegemony -- has been banished from her homeland and captured by the Clockmakers Guild's draconian secret police force.
Meanwhile, Captain Hugo Longchamp is faced with rallying the beleaguered and untested defenders of Marseilles-in-the-West for the inevitable onslaught from the Brasswork Throne and its army of mechanical soldiers.
Tregillis's splendid sequel to The Mechanical is a vivid alternate history tale filled with action sequences, fascinating characters, and great worldbuilding. Jax, a Clakker (clockwork automaton) who has gained free will, is now hobbled and on the run, hoping to find the possibly mythical land ruled by a Clakker known as Queen Mab. Its rumored location is deep in the French Canadian wilderness. Meanwhile, exiled French spymaster Berenice escapes the Dutch and becomes a fugitive, and Hugo Longchamp, the foul-mouthed guard captain in Marseilles-in-the-West in tiny New France (located in what we call Canada), prepares for the inevitable attack by the Dutch and their army of enslaved Clakkers. As their adventures intersect, these unlikely heroes work to find a way to free Clakkers from their magical obligations and to save what remains of France (in Europe) from the Dutch Empire. Tregillis falters a tad with an ending that can be seen from a mile away (and serves as a cliffhanger to set up the sequel), but the novel until then is engrossing, with plenty of mid-story twists, and it's well worth the ride.
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This is a smooth and very satisfying follow on to 'The Mechanical'. This series would make an awesome TV series! Deep characters and a whole different feel from anything else.
Can't wait for the last book in the cycle.