Liviu's Reviews > The Alchemy of Stone

The Alchemy of Stone by Ekaterina Sedia
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's review
Jul 23, 2014

it was amazing
bookshelves: genre-fantasy, 2008_release_read, t_notable_books_2008
Read in September, 2008

This was a very different read from what I expected so at first I thought that it sets up a great storyline/world and then fails somewhat to live to that potential, but the last 3rd or so of the book and especially its poignant ending made me reconsider and appreciate this one as what it truly is - a mainstream character study disguised as science fantasy.

The character happens to be a mechanical girl called Mattie, but her creator a Mechanic with a damaged face and a past that slowly revealed leads us to understand his obsessions, and why he made Mattie intelligent, self-aware, capable of feeling pain and pleasure including of a sensual type though maybe in not the usual ways and then later "emancipated" Mattie only to keep her "rewinding key" without which she will stop working after a while. Just to visit him, Loharri the mechanic claimed, to make sure that Mattie will not completely forsake him, but of course there is much more than that.

And Mattie joins the Alchemists, the rivals, competitors and sometimes enemies of the Mechanics, a strange self-aware automaton in a city full of owned, lacking sentience and self-awareness servant automatons and when she takes both an important project and an important noble customer, Mattie unwittingly gets embroiled in plots, revolution and much more.

Highly, highly recommended but with the caveat above - a very inventive world, but the focus is on the character study, Mattie, Loharri, Iolanda, Niobe, Sebastian, the Soul Smoker, the gargoyles, rather than on the workings of the world and such.
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