Goodreads helps you keep track of books you want to read.
Start by marking “The Mechanical (The Alchemy Wars, #1)” as Want to Read:
The Mechanical (The Alchemy Wars, #1)
Enlarge cover
Rate this book
Clear rating
Open Preview

The Mechanical

(The Alchemy Wars #1)

by
3.97  ·  Rating details ·  5,699 ratings  ·  648 reviews
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 Westmin
...more
Audiobook, 16 pages
Published March 10th 2015 by Hachette Audio
More Details... Edit Details

Friend Reviews

To see what your friends thought of this book, please sign up.

Reader Q&A

To ask other readers questions about The Mechanical, please sign up.
Popular Answered Questions
Alex As I just wrote in my review, I felt it was definitely just the first in a series and doesn't end in a way that I would consider as remotely…moreAs I just wrote in my review, I felt it was definitely just the first in a series and doesn't end in a way that I would consider as remotely stand-alone. It was frustrating to me.(less)
This book is not yet featured on Listopia. Add this book to your favorite list »

Community Reviews

Showing 1-30
Average rating 3.97  · 
Rating details
 ·  5,699 ratings  ·  648 reviews


More filters
 | 
Sort order
Start your review of The Mechanical (The Alchemy Wars, #1)
Mogsy (MMOGC)
5 of 5 stars at The BiblioSanctum http://bibliosanctum.com/2015/03/09/b...

Like many fans of Ian Tregillis, I was first introduced to his work with the Milkweed Triptych, a series about British warlocks versus Nazi super-soldiers in an alternate history of World War II. Then In 2013 I picked up Something More Than Night, a futuristic urban fantasy-type metaphysical hard-boiled detective noir story about angels. That book was a bit of a departure to say the least, but it also solidified Tregillis in my mind as a talented vision
...more
Bradley
Apr 01, 2015 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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, th
...more
Kameron Hurley
Mar 24, 2015 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Everyone should be reading everything by Ian Tregillis. Everyone. Everything.
Lindsay
Feb 09, 2016 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Man I'm sick of great big books published in serial form. This isn't a trilogy. Trilogies are three novels. The format of a novel is beginning, middle, end. This is all beginning with a major event at the end that doesn't change anything for the characters and leaves great gobs of story to come.

The story itself follows three PoV characters through an alternate world where the Dutch empire became the dominant force in Europe and the American colonies through it's use of alchemically derived
...more
Matthew
Aug 26, 2014 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
My name is Jax.

That is the name granted to be by my human masters.

I am a clakker: a mechanical man, powered by alchemy. Armies of my kind have conquered the world - and made the Brasswork Throne the sole superpower.

I am a faithful servant. I am the ultimate fighting machine. I am endowed with great strength and boundless stamina.

But I am beholden to the wishes of my human masters.

I am a slave. But I shall be free.



I have watche
...more
Joel
Feb 08, 2015 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: hard-copy, audiobooks
Full Review on my blog, Total Inability To Connect: https://totalinabilitytoconnect.wordp...

I fell for Tregillis’ unique stylings when his first major novel, Bitter Seeds, was introduced to me. I found his writing style, prose, creativity, and plot progression to be incredibly enjoyable, and his characters shone. However, with those books, I honestly felt they all hovered in the “4-star” area, where they were fun, had tons of potential, but just lacked a bit of polish and “glue”, so to speak, to pull them together into greatn
...more
Melissa
Sep 08, 2015 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: science-fiction
I wanted to like this book. I really did. The concept is interesting and I think there's a good book in there somewhere. But it was buried under a layer of pretentious drivel and endless descriptions about things that don't really matter. This author makes George R. R. Martin seem concise. I wouldn't say that I have a poor vocabulary, but I had to look up a word every few pages. That really took me out of the story. Not to mention that parts of the story were so boring, I fell asleep after readi ...more
Ryandake
a book i can't finish.

i'm listening to the audiobook, am just a tad over halfway. and i am bored, bored, bored.

the book has an interesting set-up and the worldbuilding isn't bad--so what makes it un-finishable?

it's the long-windedness. there are super-long action scenes stuffed with filler--people thinking about all the stuff that won't work, for example, in the middle of fighting for their lives. you can safely ignore the audiobook for long stretches while you drive pas
...more
Dawn
++SPOILERS++

5 stars. (This is more or less notes to myself than a review)

(just raised my opinion and stars after further reflection 2-14-2017)

This book is written in the 3rd person, which surprised me since the GR summary gave me the impression it would be in 1st person.

The beginning was slow and full historical details and dates which almost put me off. The writing style was also a little difficult to get used to for me. It seemed at first stiff, formal and overly inte
...more
Nikki
Received to review via Netgalley

This one took me a weirdly long time to read, considering the fact that I don’t have major criticisms. I just… didn’t feel like reading it. In part that’s because of emotional stuff: tortures, transformations, losses… Tregillis writes well about these, and I tend to be bad at reading that. There’s one aspect of Visser’s character arc in particular that still has me cringing now. It’s worse with characters I feel more involved with, which is maybe the p
...more
Lisa
Jun 09, 2015 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: steampunk
Review from Tenacious Reader: http://www.tenaciousreader.com/2015/0...

4.5/5 stars

The Mechanical is a wonderful steampunk, alternate history novel that takes the reader into the dark world of spies and war and also examines issues of slavery versus free will and religion. This book can be quite dark, but it balances the horrific parts with a fascinating world and wonderful characters.

“Clakkers” or mechanical men powered by alchemy to serve humans. There are several kinds, giving them specialties (for ex
...more
Jenny (Reading Envy)
I got about 1/4 in and decided I wouldn't finish. I liked the first novel of the author's previous trilogy, Bitter Seeds, but never went back to the other books in that series. I think it is for similar reasons that I don't think I'll finish this one. Ian Tregillis very creatively weaves automatons and clockwork people into historical events. The previous trilogy looked at World War II, and The Alchemy Wars are set more during Louis XIV. If you are interested in how issues of mechanical beings would f ...more
Sarah
Sep 25, 2015 rated it it was ok
Shelves: audio
I'm really torn between two and three stars on this one but just based on my relief with being done I'm going with two. It really was more like two for the first half and three for the second.

This book never entirely worked for me. My biggest quibble - this one's going to take time - was the particular alt-history world that this guy created. There's a war going between New Amsterdam and New France but we're not given a year that it's taking place. New Amsterdam ceased to exist in th
...more
Marius
Oct 26, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I was undecided between 4 and 5 stars, but I am too lazy to nitpick so I went with 5, and to be fair, the arguments for 4 start were mostly personal preferences.

This is more steampunk than sci-fi and it takes place in the beginning of the 20th century, in an alternate world.
The Dutch rule the world, or at least, as much as they care to conquer. Though no other countries seem to exist besides them and the French. This dominance comes from their technological advantage in the mec
...more
Liviu Szoke
Dec 14, 2014 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Though the steampunk it is not my absolute favorite subgenre, Tregillis became quickly one of my to follow authors. Bitter Seeds was a decent and inovative fantasy delivery, but this time we have a metaphysical journey, combinated with a vivid description of an alternate reality, where the human-alike robots are something usual in the begining of the XXth century all over the world. Part medieval world, part I, Robot (the movie, not the collection), it kept me hooked from the first to the last p ...more
Milo (BOK)
The Review Can Also Be Found Here:: http://thefictionalhangout.blogspot.c...

Ian Tregillis has quickly emerged as one of my go-to authors if I want to read some good alternate historical fiction, with a sci-fi/fantasy bent. His Milkweed Tryptych series saw British warlocks battle Nazi super soldiers in an awesome alternate WW2 setting and absolutely blew me away. The Mechanical offers up more of the same, an inventive world, a compelling atmosphere and an awesome finale. The book grabbed me from the moment I started reading as it pulled it in
...more
Jared
Mar 22, 2015 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Too many characters and the slow pacing made this a hard book to get in to. The proliferation of foreign words, made up, Nordic and French, also did this no favors in readability. If the story had stayed on Jax I would have fallen head over heels, but though he is the only interesting character in the book, he gets about 1/4 of the screen time. Also, I just don't like steampunk at all and this doesn't do enough to differentiate itself, which was the same issue I had with his last book. This is t ...more
Brandt
May 06, 2015 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: scifi, fiction
There is a chapter in The Mechanical where two characters with different religious philosophies discuss whether Free Will is real or an illusion. This is what drives the plot of this brilliant alternate history. In the Mechanical, Dutch scientist Christiaan Huygens discovered a means of creating clockwork men who help the Dutch become masters of the world. All that stands in their way are the exiled French court, living in North America. It's impossible to discuss the plot points without massive ...more
T. Frohock
Mar 03, 2016 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Positively excellent! A riveting look at free will and slavery, examined through the lens of Calvinistic and Catholic philosophies in a fast-paced alternative history. I appreciated the way Tregillis took his time and seated the reader in the world and the story with the opening scenes before launching into the action. In taking such great care, the characters were vibrant and simply leapt off the page--their motivations were clear, and I cared deeply enough about each one so that their pain was ...more
Tudor Ciocarlie
Mar 27, 2015 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2015-my-best-of
Bitter Seeds was far from my favorite books, but this novel is a much more thoughtful and interesting examination of an alternate history. I loved the world-building and how the author uses this world in order to explore some heavy themes like free-will or slavery. The only thing I didn’t like was the total absence of any closure and I am a little angry at the writers that play these games with the reader. Even if The Mechanical is the first novel in the series, it should have been a complete no ...more
Lancer
This. Was. Great. Not counting the Tales of the Ketty Jay series this is now my next favourite steampunk-ish series. The questions on free will were entertaining and the 3 pov's were equally enthralling.

Long story short: loved it.
Lynn Williams
Mar 01, 2015 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
https://lynnsbooks.wordpress.com/2015...

Just finished reading The Mechanical by Ian Tregillis and what a great story this is. I really enjoyed it, a strange combination of alternate history, steampunk and conflict – in more ways than one – that packs an emotional punch for most of the journey.

I’m not going to say this was a quick read because it isn’t. The style of writing and depth of detail coupled with the ideas and name places do mean you have to give this your whole attention. Or at least I found so. But that
...more
Cathy
I was very excited to read this because I read Tregillis's truly excellent story The Mainspring of His Heart, The Shackles of His Soul, in the anthology Human for a Day that this book appears to be based on. The story turns out to be an alternate Jax's tale. The fully realized characters and history he created must have been so intriguing that he decided to expand it into a series, which doesn't surprise me one little bit. The story was so interesting and poignant, I've always remembered it, even with m ...more
Jason Pettus
(Reprinted from the Chicago Center for Literature and Photography [cclapcenter.com]. I am the original author of this essay, as well as the owner of CCLaP; it is not being reprinted illegally.)

So to be clear, what makes Ian Tregillis' The Mechanical such a dazzling success as a genre novel is primarily his world-building and other "what if" skills; predicated on a fairly standard premise from steampunk literature ("What if physicist Christiaan Huygens had actually invented robots in the 1600s?
...more
Suzanne
This had a lot of discussion about free-will and the nature of the soul, along with tons of action. Coincidentally, I read it at the same time I read Going Postal, which explored (in a more humorous way of course) many similar ideas with golems instead of mechanicals. I'm glad the two books paired up like that.
Joyce
First, I would like to applaud this book for doing what few of its compatriots manage to do: it bored me and pissed me off at the same time.



I really wanted to like this book. I mean, I’m into steampunk, and the description sounds amazing. So, naturally, I expected the book to follow suit. Not since My Name is Rapunzel have I been so disappointed.

Let’s begin with the good. (Because, you know, I’m a ray of sunshine even when I’m being negative.)

I loved the portrayals of the i
...more
Tasula
Mar 22, 2015 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
The Mechanical is an alternate European history with some mechanical inventions, including sentient mechanical creatures, who are programmed with a geas which requires them to fulfill the orders of their masters or suffer pain. These mechanicals- clakkers- serve as laborers, servants, soldiers, transports, etc. The inventors consider them objects without free will, but the clakkers communicate with their own language and feel curiosity, yearning and other emotions, which they cannot act upon bec ...more
edifanob
Aug 09, 2014 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: my-books, 2015-reads
Alternate history, steampunk and alchemy. These catchwords fit perfectly to this book.

In 17th century the scientist and mathematican Christian Huygens changed history dramatically.
He found a way to use magic to control mechanical men called CLAKKERS.
These are capable of inteligent thought but enslaved to their masters.
The Calvinist Dutch Empire is the new world power and the remnants of the French Court try to change that.
The core of the story is the explorati
...more
Doug
Feb 07, 2015 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
A five. No hesitation whatsoever. Tregillis has the schtuffs I love to read. More please.

Now.


Seriously. Right now. I'll wait right here.

EDIT: Forgot to mention that this IS the first book of planned (but as of now unpublished) trilogy. So it doesn't wrap everything up with a pretty bow at the end of this first installment. So even though I definitely was left "wanting more," it DID do an admiral job of picking a fairly natural jumping off point. You'd ha
...more
Absinthe
May 05, 2015 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: steampunk
This is a pretty good book. The idea behind it is incredible, but the writing does at times leave something to be desired. I would like to see this as part of a series, because otherwise the ending was just absolutely, breathtakingly disappointing. Evil wins folks, but is it evil? This book is a treatise on the philosophy of free will and religion masquerading as a sci-fi novel, which of course is my favorite part about it.
« previous 1 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 next »
There are no discussion topics on this book yet. Be the first to start one »

Readers also enjoyed

  • The Daedalus Incident (Daedalus #1)
  • Ack-Ack Macaque (Ack-Ack Macaque, #1)
  • Dark Orbit
  • Heart of Iron
  • Persona (Persona, #1)
  • The Bookman Histories (The Bookman Histories, #1-3)
  • Summerland
  • Karen Memory (Karen Memory, #1)
  • Chasing the Phoenix (Darger and Surplus #2)
  • The Age Atomic (Empire State, #2)
  • The Constantine Affliction
  • The Time Roads
  • Fitzpatrick's War
  • The Light Ages (The Aether Universe, #1)
  • Defenders
  • Souls in the Great Machine (Greatwinter Trilogy, #1)
  • Two Serpents Rise (Craft Sequence, #2)
  • The Company Man
See similar books…

Other books in the series

The Alchemy Wars (3 books)
  • The Rising (The Alchemy Wars, #2)
  • The Liberation (The Alchemy Wars, #3)
“Oh, for crying out loud," she said. "Were you fools any more chivalrous I'd surely swoon on the spot and damage my uterus.” 7 likes
“The prosperity achieved through slavery had a way of blinding men’s hearts to the evil of their own hands.” 3 likes
More quotes…