Enter your mobile number or email address below and we'll send you a link to download the free Kindle App. Then you can start reading Kindle books on your smartphone, tablet, or computer - no Kindle device required.
To get the free app, enter your mobile phone number.
Other Sellers on Amazon
+ Free Shipping
+ Free Shipping
+ Free Shipping
The Mechanical (The Alchemy Wars) Paperback – March 10, 2015
Frequently bought together
Customers who bought this item also bought
"There are a number of marvelous action scenes, hallucinogenic in their over-the-top big-screen violence, but the real attraction here is Tregilli's narrative ruthlessness, which manifest as willingness to take his character to the brink of hell...and then, rather than yank them back at the last second, push them in."―SciFi Magazine on The Mechanical
"A major talent."―George R.R. Martin on Bitter Seeds
"Superb alternate history filled with clockwork men and ethical questions on the nature of free will. ... Tregillis's complex setting is elegantly delivered, and the rich characters and gripping story really make this tale soar."―Publishers Weekly on The Mechanical
"The first thing readers will say after finishing this splendid book is: 'Wow.' The second thing will probably be: 'When can I read the next one?'"―Booklist on The Mechanical
"Tregillis presents a fascinating look at the nature of free will and the existence of the soul, wrapped up in an absolutely thrilling adventure story. Jax is an amazing, sympathetic character, and the world of the clockmakers and their slaves is so absorbing that readers will be dying for the next entry in this new series."―Library Journal on The Mechanical
"Thrilling philosophical clock punk."―B&N Sci-Fi & Fantasy Blog on The Mechanical
"His characters are as convincing as ever, the plotting is beautifully articulated, the tone relentlessly grim and sometimes horrifying. And while the action rarely flags, Tregillis manages to pack in a good deal of philosophical probing...readers with an interest in dark, intelligent fantasy-will find much to admire here."―Kirkus on The Mechanical
"In the tradition of Isaac Asimov, Tregillis's latest novel combines classic robotics with historical fiction to riveting ends. Tregillis brings an intriguing touch to his narrative, as parts of actual Dutch history, such as colonization, the founding of New Amsterdam and reliance on slavery, are reflected in the fictionalized country's conquering of the rest of the world. Further, the story manages to posit broad questions, such as how one defines humanity and free will, without coming across as sanctimonious or treacly. It's also just plain exciting, with intense fight scenes and exhilarating narrow escapes. Readers will no doubt be rooting for the "rogue" robots."―RT Book Reviews on The Mechanical
"...By the end of the novel, the physical and emotional transformations they have endured promise an even more exciting sequel. This tightly wound plot yields timely conversations regarding consciousness and technology as various forms of human and machine merge."―The Washington Post on The Mechanical
"While merely the warm-up for what promises to be a uniquely compelling series, The Mechanical is as intricate and exquisite as the clockwork wonders it brings to life."―NPR Books on The Mechanical
About the Author
Ian Tregillis is the son of a bearded mountebank and a discredited tarot card reader. He was born and raised in Minnesota, where his parents had landed after fleeing the wrath of a Flemish prince. (The full story, he's told, involves a Dutch tramp steamer and a stolen horse.) Nowadays he lives in New Mexico, where he consorts with writers, scientists and other unsavoury types.
If you are a seller for this product, would you like to suggest updates through seller support?
Top Customer Reviews
Turns out, this book is wonderful. This time, we have three main POV characters and they're easy to tell apart. (I've read several books lately where all the characters sort of blended together and didn't have truly individual voices. So when I encounter characterization done well, I feel the need to mention it!)
A bit about the worldbuilding before moving on. This is steampunk, for sure, as well as alternate history. In the world of this story, Christian Huygens invented not only the pendulum clock, but clockwork men and women (called "Clakkers" in this book). Clakkers were used by the Dutch for all manner of things -- soldiers, rowing ships, servants' tasks around the home, pulling carriages. Their "consciousnesses" were even put into airships. Clakkers' prowess as soldiers led to Dutch domination of the world -- all except a tiny sliver in what would be Canada, today, known as New France, where a Pope and a French king (in exile) reside. The French don't know the secrets of Clakkers, but they are talented in chemistry/alchemy. We see one incident of Clakker violence directed at humans and it becomes easy to imagine a world where the Dutch have taken over. (In general, at least under normal circumstances in Dutch society, Clakkers are affected by a compulsion *not* to harm humans.) I think the alternate history aspect works wonderfully. It's the kind of event most authors wouldn't have ever even considered, let alone chosen to work with, but I think the implications are very well thought through.
At any rate, back to the three main POV characters. Jax is an unusual Clakker in that he's an older model and he seems quite interested in the idea of having free will. Berenice is "Talleyrand," the French spymaster. And Visser is a pastor in the Dutch homeland as well as (secretly) a Catholic priest and a spy for the French. Jax is easy to sympathize with. He's intelligent and figures out quickly how to manipulate people to get what he wants, but generally good-natured despite the manipulation. Berenice is kind of unpleasant. She's good at getting ahold of information, but she makes a couple of extraordinarily bad decisions and we sometimes wonder how she earned her high-ranking position (though the book offers some clues). Visser is the most sympathetic human character, by far, and the most tragic. I do hope his situation gets sorted out in a future book.
There's a philosophical conflict in this book, as well. On the one hand, the Dutch (who are Protestant) see the Clakkers as objects to be ordered around. The French, as well as the Catholic Church, don't approve of the enslavement of the Clakkers, whom the Church believes to have souls. There are several philosophical arguments and discussions of Free Will in this book and they're actually quite interesting (in addition to illuminating the feelings of the two sides).
I love the writing here. It's a bit more descriptive early on, but the vocabulary is perfect for the setting and scenario. It's just fun to read. Be forewarned: when Berenice is angry, she has a pretty foul mouth. And there is some vivid (and disgusting) imagery during a battle. But it serves to make the scene feel more realistic. There are also lots of fun little details -- once, Jax goes in for repair. The technician is supposed to check his serial number against a file. But the technician just writes down the number on a paper, which he shoves in his pocket. This is something we were constantly warned against doing in grad school (with experimental data), and Trigellis has a PhD in physics, so I know he is pulling little bits of information from his own experience in science.
The ending is something of a cliffhanger, which I'm not happy about, but I am also definitely eager to read the next book and will probably buy it the day it comes out.
P.S. Thanks to Danica at BestFantasyBooks for getting this into my hands so I could participate in this month's book club!
.Jax was interesting, but seemed like he did not always do the logical thing.
<very mild spoiler>
For instance why not just stay in the river bottom mud for a couple months?
On the surface, there are many similarities between the two stories. The Milkweed Triptych was one part alternate history, one part science fiction, and one part fantasy. The Mechanical hits all three of those markers as well, and it does it EXTREMELY well. The author sticks to a formula with which he is familiar--two opposing world powers at war use the fantastical means they have available to them to get any sort of upper hand in the battle. Only this time, it is not Nazi supermen or British warlocks engaged in the battle. Instead, mechanical wind-up slave soldiers enchanted with the alchemy of life march against those who cannot hope to combat them, only delay them.
In The Mechanical, the Dutch have conquered as much of the world as they have felt like conquering, all on the backs of their clockwork soldiers called Clakkers. The French, exiled from Europe and holed up in what we know as Canada, and with whom a shaky cease-fire has been negotiated, rely on their more advanced knowledge of chemicals, scientific discovery, and good ol' spycraft to combat these unstoppable metal armies. The Clackers, thinking beings and not at all simple man-made tools (though they are treated as such), desire their own freedom more than anything. And the French, knowing they cannot hope to hold off the approach of Dutch Empire for very much longer, may have found a way to grant that freedom and save themselves in the process.
I won't spoil any of the plot--it's too good not to experience first hand. I was immediately intrigued by the premise of the book when I first read about it. It sounded promising. I hoped it would be a little like Octavia Butler's novels--full of wonderful imagination and deep, philosophical concepts about what it means to be free, what it means to be human... and yet still thrilling and not bogged down with preachiness or sadness. I was not disappointed. There is enough action in this book to keep the pages turning constantly, but there is also a substance here often missing from science fiction or fantasy. Where some stories rely on their intriguing concepts to carry the reader through, The Mechanical treats the amazing concept and world Tregillis has created as what it is--a backdrop. A backdrop for a very human drama, played out between men and their very non-human clockwork creations. It reminds me a lot of Octavia Butler, actually, who was so good at bridging the gaps of any culture, species, whatever and finding the common ground. But where Octavia Butler sometimes comes off as fatalistic, Tregillis does not. There is hope in his book, and a lot of characters to root for, even if you don't notice you're rooting for them until the end.
Cracking open the first page, I was struck by how much Tregillis's CRAFT has improved. Good lord, it is just plain FUN to read the sentences and paragraphs he creates. And the way he introduced you slowly into the new world he is building seems so fluid, you hardly notice you are learning about it as you read.
Basically, the writing is beautiful, the worldbuilding is on point, the characters are diverse and interesting, and the plotting and pacing are even better than Tregillis has given us in the past--which is saying a lot, in my opinion.
DEFINITELY give this book a read. I hope the sequels follow soon, because the story is unbelievably gripping.
Most Recent Customer Reviews
An action fantasy that also struggles with philosophies like what is free will, who has a soul, and the pragmatic nature of evil.Read more