Wind- up wars
Release Date: 10 March 480 pages | Paperback/ ebook Author: Ian Tregillis Publisher: Orbit
A treatise on free will, or the lack of it, that pits a Catholic worldview against Calvinism in a kind of re- run of the Reformation? Thought not. How about a clockwork- punk adventure story that sees a rump French state squaring up against a Holland that rampaged through Europe using an army of mechanical beings called “Clakkers”, to become the world’s only superpower? Better?
The first volume in American writer Ian Tregillis’s new Alchemy Wars trilogy, set in the 1920s, is a hugely entertaining novel resting on the premise that history changed radically in 1671. This was the year when Dutch mathematician and scientist Christiaan Huygens pinched Isaac Newton’s alchemical research and mixed it with arcane clockmaking knowledge.
Some 250 years later, it seems that not all Clakkers are in thrall to their human masters, instead escaping a slavery that causes physical pain if the bonded try to go against human instructions. Why is this? And what does it mean for the world order? These are questions Tregillis explores from both a human perspective and, more intriguingly, from the perspective of a rogue Clakker, Jax.
Refreshingly, it’s a novel that burns slowly, with Tregillis confident enough to take the time needed to build his alternate reality – although he needs to spend more time working at creating characters that don’t come across as so contemporary and American. Jonathan Wright Tregillis’s first attempt at a novel, Space Raiders, turned into robot- shaped mazes after about 10 pages. Well, he was eight.