The Mechanical by Ian Tregillis
My rating: 4 of 5 stars
For the greater portion of this novel, I was sitting pretty at three stars because no matter how much action-packed escapades and beautiful worldbuilding it may have been stuffed with, I was only pretty much interested in Jax. The other two were only interesting in spurts.
That is, until they actually met one another in the denouement, and then things really picked up for me and made me feel less like I had just *wanted* to love this novel without quite liking it. After that point, though, I loved it.
It's a shame that it took so long to get there.
The only exceptions to this was Visser's discourse on Free Will and Berenice's maiming. I liked both of them much better after all the shit got poured all over them, but alas, only so far. Oh, a little correction. I did *begin* liking Visser enough, but all that talk of martyrdom started getting under my skin in a bad way.
Of course, what made this novel shine was the beautifully thought-out world of 1926 after several hundred years of mechanical slaves had revolutionized and marginalized all but the most technologically savvy of the 18th century, leaving the Dutch and the French as the clear winners on the map of the world.
I've read Tregillis's Milkweed Triptych, so I know that the author's voice had changed fairly significantly between then and now, and I can applaud the attempt even if I was a little annoyed at the execution. There was a lot of detail and repetition of the steampunk feel that made me feel somewhat as if I was being shortchanged with the extra effort I needed to use to follow the story without glazed eyes.
I feel like it might only be me, but who knows? I kept wanting to be doing something else, even when I appreciated, intellectually, what Tregillis was doing.
I'm continuing the series because of the spectacularly strong finish, even if I wish that the finish had come by about the mid-point and then continued from *there* to some more interesting conclusion. Alas, the interesting conclusion has got to be in book two, I think. :)
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