Narrator: Chris Kayser
Series: The Alchemy Wars #1
Published by Hachette Audio on 10 March 2015
Length: 15 hrs and 45 mins
Genres: Science Fiction
Source: Publisher, Submitted
The Clakker: a mechanical man endowed with great strength and boundless stamina - but beholden to the wishes of its human masters.
Soon after the Dutch scientist and clockmaker Christiaan Huygens invented the very first Clakker in the seventeenth century, the Netherlands built a whole mechanical army. It wasn't long before a legion of clockwork fusiliers marched on Westminster, and the Netherlands became the world's sole superpower.
Three centuries later it still is. Only the French still fiercely defend their belief in universal human rights for all men - flesh and brass alike. After decades of warfare, the Dutch and French have reached a tenuous cease-fire in a conflict that has ravaged North America.
But one audacious Clakker, Jax, can no longer bear the bonds of his slavery. He will make a bid for freedom, and the consequences of his escape will shake the very foundations of the Brasswork Throne.
©2015 Ian Tregillis (P)2014 Hachette Audio
ABR received this audiobook for free from the Publisher, Submitted in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect our opinion of the audiobook or the content of our review.Buy from Audible Buy from Downpour.com Buy from Amazon.comAdd to Goodreads
Author Ian Tregillis has written a beast in The Mechanical, a steampunk/alternate history exploration of the meaning of free will, religion, and politics. Narrated by the talented Chris Kaysar, The Mechanical clocks in at just shy of 16 hours.
Imagine if the Dutch invented more than just clocks. What if they invented an alchemical process that brought machines to life? What if these machines (called clakkers in the book) were enslaved by some, and just intelligent enough to know that something is wrong with their situation? What if they knew freedom was just a border crossing away? Of course people hate to part with possessions, and they are willing to fight to control the clakkers and their alchemical science.
That’s the basic idea behind the book as it follows a particularly free willed clakker named Jax, and a French spy named Berenice. There are a few other characters in this very dense story, but those were the two that I really enjoyed listening to the most.
Because it’s a fantasy piece and one that rewrites our own history to tell its story, the early portion of the book is very slow and filled with exposition. To be honest I felt like the writing dragged for at least an hour, but the payoff in the quality of the world and the depth of what The Mechanical explores is worth digging through. There are some spots in the writing beyond the start that are a bit plodding, in the vein of George R.R. Martin’s way of describing a dinner scene in three pages, but the writing is precise, and you’ve got to allow a writer to write.
Beyond a very well developed world and characters I found myself loving and hating equally, I thought Chris Kaysar’s narration was very adept. He bounced between characters fluidly, and does an exceptional job of managing accents. Because so many of the characters in the book are from the different nations of Europe there are quite a few accents to manage, and he does it well. He brings to life the parts of the book that drag, and made it very enjoyable. I found myself invested in his performance so much that I didn’t try to speed it up at all. Regular speed was perfect.
The Mechanical overall suffered from slow writing, but the world is so beautiful and well developed its flaws can be forgiven. The first part of a trilogy, The Mechanical has me hooked enough to keep pushing deeper. Especially after the ending of the first book, and what it leaves open for you to wonder about.