Review: The Mechanical (2015)

Title: The MechanicalTheMechanical
Author: Ian Tregillis
Pages: 440
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Summary: In an alternate history, the Dutch have become a world superpower after creating an army of mechanical servants and soldiers named Clakkers, bound to carry out the whims of their masters through an alchemically induced compulsion to serve. The novel alternates between the points of view of three separate characters: a Clakker in the employ of a prominent Dutch family, a Pastor in the Netherlands operating as the last remaining member of a Papist spy ring, and a French spy master looking for ways to bring down the Dutch empire. Tregillis presents their varying motivations while exploring deeper issues related to free will.

Review: This work is a perfect blend of sometimes disparate genres (steampunk, alternate history, science fiction, fantasy). The tale Tregillis weaves and the world that he has created is so fully realized and fresh that I could not put this down. Every small detail of this alternate history is considered and presented to the reader and the events of the novel seem absolutely realistic had the technology/alchemy described existed at the time. While I enjoyed each character’s storyline, I was especially excited to read the chapters featuring Jax the Clakker. Seeing the world from his perspective and experiencing his transition from slave to free Clakker was truly fascinating. Tregillis manages to create an abundance of memorable scenes while utilizing both challenging and surprisingly readable prose. I often had to look up definitions of words I was unfamiliar with, but that did nothing to diminish my reading flow and further served to give me a deeper understanding of world in which I was living. I am exciting to read the remaining two books of this trilogy, as the rise of the Clakkers over their oppressive masters will likely be brutal, but oh so sweet.

★★ out of 5

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