Tuesday, August 14, 2018

The Mechanical by Ian Tregillis

The Dutch in the early 1700's are the masters of the world.  Their clockmakers have created a series of mechanical men.  These beings are alive yet enslaved through chemical bindings to their masters.  They start to feel pressure whenever given an order and as every minute passes that the task is not completed, their pain increases until it is intolerable.  Thus, they quickly obey any order without pause or hesitation.  Their masters don't acknowledge that these are sentient beings who have feelings and aspirations but treat them as one would a vacuum cleaner or washing machine.  With such obedient creatures, the Dutch rise in the world standings as they have soldiers that never tire and slaves to do all physical work.

Jax is one of the enslaved but something wonderful happens.  While carrying out a task to deliver a package, part of it spills out and when it touches him, something changes.  His obligation to constantly serve any human who orders him has disappeared.  He can, for the first time, think for himself and about what he might want.  It's clear; he wants freedom and to escape from his masters.  Can he find a way to get away from the humans who see him as a rogue and a threat?

Ian Tregillis has created an interesting world in which the ideas of predestination and human freedom can be debated.  The mixture of fiction and solid historical research gives this world gravitas and serves as a stand from which an alternate view of history can be imagined.  This is the first of a trilogy and readers will want to continue with the other novels to read more about Jax's attempt to gain freedom.  This book is recommended for readers of fantasy. 

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