I recently finished “The Mechanical” by Ian Tregillis.
The blurb on the back of the book reads:
My name is Jax.
That is the name granted to me 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.
The story follows three individuals. Jax, a mechanical clockwork slave finds himself free and must run to evade the other mechanicals who are bound to pursue him and, upon catching him, melt him down in the Great Forge. Pastor Luuk Visser, a secret Catholic priest is found out as spy and learns some terrible secrets about the Clockmakers’ Guild. The story is set in a world where the Dutch reign supreme, where Protestant faiths triumphed and France has little to no power. It is for the French that Pastor Luuk spies. And, in the midst of the French and the plans to take back the throne comes Berenice Charolotte de Mornay-Périgord, vicomtesse de Laval. Of all humans, she has the most in-depth understanding of Clakkers and is relentless in her pursuit of the knowledge of the mechanical slaves. For she believes that the only way to retain the French throne is to gain the knowledge of the way the machines are constructed and switch their unwavering loyalty from the current Dutch monarch to the French monarch.
The book raises many of the same timeless questions that haunt us all. Is the soul real? Can free will be removed? Are machines capable of sentience and emotional depth?
Because of the questions it raises, this book may be an uncomfortable read for anyone unwilling to ask questions. For those who enjoy reflecting on some of the most difficult questions ever posed – questions that may never have answers – this is definitely a book to add to your reading list.