Review: The Rising by Ian Tregillis
Narrator: Chris Kayser
Series: The Alchemy Wars #2
Also by this author: The Mechanical
Published by Hachette Audio, Orbit on December 1st 2015
Genres: Science Fiction
Length: 15 hour 44 minutes
The second book in the Alchemy Wars trilogy by Ian Tregillis, an epic tale of liberation and war. Jax, a rogue Clakker, has wreaked havoc upon the Clockmakers' Guild by destroying the Grand Forge. Reborn in the flames, he must begin his life as a free Clakker, but liberation proves its own burden.
Berenice, formerly the legendary spymaster of New France, mastermind behind her nation's attempts to undermine the Dutch Hegemony -- has been banished from her homeland and captured by the Clockmakers Guild's draconian secret police force.Meanwhile, Captain Hugo Longchamp is faced with rallying the beleaguered and untested defenders of Marseilles-in-the-West for the inevitable onslaught from the Brasswork Throne and its army of mechanical soldiers.
The Rising by Ian Tregillis continues to explore the rights of the mechanicals and the war between France and Netherlands continues. In fact, the war dominates. This book is much faster and I feel like it featured more action than the first book. While action is good, I have to confess that is not what made me love The Mechanical. I love the exploration of freedom and free will and how that relates to the Mechanicals, I also loved the concept of deciphering at what point a machine may have enough independent thought of its own to be declared a sentient being deserving of its own rights and privileges. I did miss that a bit in this book, but not too much as the groundwork was laid in book one, and it continues to a driving force in book 2. I guess its the difference between the introduction of new ideas which takes longer and the continuing pursuit of them, which relies on your knowledge from the previous book. So while my overall experience with this book was a bit different from the first, it was still very good.
From the first book, France and the Netherlands are at war with the Dutch having a decided advantage with their use of Mechanical men (or Clakkers), which are essentially robot soldiers designed to win war and follow orders, no matter how insane the orders may be. The metageasa is a part of all forged mechanicals, it features a built in hierarchy to determine which of potentially conflicting commands to follow and is used to maintain control of the Mechanicals, ensuring they follow commands. If they do not, they experience unbearable pain.
However, sometimes a Mechanical breaks free of the metageasa and gains free will, becoming what they refer to as a rogue. But the question is, once they are free of the metageasa, how free are they really? Rogues are viewed as dangerous and potentially on the verge of a murderous rampage at any moment. Everyone is taught to fear them, and the make sure they are destroyed. Jax has destroyed the Grand Forge for creating mechanicals and is now free of the metageasa, which means in theory he should be able to decide his actions. However, the fear of being discovered is nearly as binding as the metageasa. It is an interesting realization when he is faced with conforming as he would under the control of metageasa versus doing as he would like and risking (or in many cases ensuring) discovery that he is a rogue, pretty much ensuring his demise. It will take more than a single rogue Clakker to change the system.
We continue to get perspective from Berenice, the former spymaster for France which I continue to enjoy. She has been captured by the Clockmakers pretty much every scene with her is compelling and suspenseful. We are also given more chapters from Captain Longchamp whose sections are always action packed. Both of these allow us to get a broader view of what is happening in the conflict as we can piece together details from the different perspective.
As much as I enjoyed the entire book, I have to say I found the ending of this book to be phenomonal. I’m definitely looking forward to the third novel in this trilogy.
Audiobook Notes: So far I have listened to both books in this series in the Audiobook format, narrated by Chris Kaysar. Seeing how much I have enjoyed them, I can’t find fault with the narrator and find he continues to deliver an easy to listen to and addictive story. I plan on completing the trilogy in the same format.