Friday Face Off : Better late than never!

FFO

Here we are again with the Friday Face Off meme created by Books by Proxy .  This is a great opportunity to feature some of your favourite book covers.  The rules are fairly simple each week, following a predetermined theme (list below) choose a book (this doesn’t have to be a book that you’ve read), compare a couple of the different covers available for that particular book and choose your favourite.   Future’s themes are listed below – if you have a cover in mind that you’re really wanting to share then feel free to leave a comment about a future suggested theme.  I’ve also listed events that take place during the year, that I’m aware of, so you can link up your covers – if you’re aware of any events that you think I should include then give me a shout.

I’ve added themes in below. For information, I’m trying out some new ideas so along with coming up with particular items for book covers I thought we could also look for certain elements contained within the book or that play a large part in the story – this really broadens things out because I have plenty of more ideas with this – I’ve gone for a few of the Tough Travel Themes (so a book with that theme – just choose any book – the theme isn’t necessarily on the cover, then compare covers), also, I’ve thrown in some genres and some colours.  Hopefully this will open things out a little and give us some more freedom to come up with new books.

This week’s theme:

Genre : Gadgets and airships – a book that is ’steampunk

So, I’ve had a strange few days. Basically, came home a couple of days ago and my dog, who gets very excited, kind of charged at me (and he’s such a clumsy goofball – he didn’t stop in time) and his big old bullet head rammed my arm.  Wow, did that hurt.  Just a bit.  Anyway, I left it for a few hours, took pain killers, tried to carry on as normal with lots of facial wincing and eventually decided I needed to go to hospital.  Long story short. Nothing is broken – and thank goodness for that.  But it is very sore and so I’m doing everything quite literally single handed at the moment.  There you go – that’s my story for this week.  Hope you’re all well and sorry for the delay with the Face Off.

2022

March
11th The most recent book you’ve read that has covers to compare
18th – Somewhere over the rainbow – a very colourful book cover
25th – A book of few words – a one word title
Apr
1st Spring forward – compare the covers for two books you’re excited about
8th – Fresh and Green – a cover that is predominantly green
15th Genre – a book or series that is urban fantasy
22nd – Tough Travel Tropes – unknown magical ability
29th – Long/pointed ears
May the Month of Wyrd and Wonder
6th All about the women – kickass moms, daughters, grans, etc
13th A favourite book to film
20th Sunny and bright  – a cover that is predominantly yellow
27th Books with ‘You’ in the title
Jun
3rd  Under the Sea – anything you like
10th Sparkling like the sea – a cover that is turquoise
17th So pretty – exactly what it says
24th Daddy Dearest – a book with a strong father role
Jul  
1st Genre – epic – any book that fits into the genre
8th Hazy and hot – a cover that is predominantly orange
15th Tough Travel Tropes – Snarky sidekick
22nd Off the TBR
29th Gigantic – monsters, giants, buildings,insects – anything at all
August
5th Tough Travel Tropes – out for summer – school or academic setting
12th Dark/sky/navy  – a cover that is blue
19th Scantily Dressed
26th Tough Travel Tropes – Vacation time – the quest
September RIP
2nd Fallen leaves – covers that are brown
9th Armour/Protection
16th Rage against the machine – anything, cogs, clockwork, AI
23rd Tough Travel Tropes – Coming of Age
30th Genre – horror
October – Horror/Dark
7th Guess who’s back?  – Vampires – popular again?
14th Witches vs warlocks
21st Tough Travel Tropes – Good vs evil
28th  Covers that are black
November – Scifi Month
4th Red skies at night – Covers that are red
11th Tough Travel Tropes – The gang
18th Genre – Swords and Sorcery
25th Genre – And they all lived happily ever after – fairy tales retold
December
2nd Tough Travel Tropes – Assassins
9th Tough Travel Tropes – Darklord
16th Genre – Grimdark (most recent/favourite, etc)
23rd Decadent and rich – a cover that is purple
30th Completions – a satisfying conclusion to a book or serie
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The Mechanical by Ian Tregillis

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’s not a criticism.  I loved the world displayed on the pages here and I was entranced almost immediately by the plight of the Clakkers.

At the heart of the story is the war between the all powerful Netherlands who, using the Clakkers that they invented approximately 200 years ago, have risen to supremacy and the French and their King in exile who, having barely survived the last conflict, spend their time trying to find a way to thwart any future attacks.

Thanks to an inventor called Huygens the Netherlands possess the know-how to make Clakkers.  Mechanical, thinking and talking machines, much stronger and faster than humans, brought to life through a combination of chemicals and alchemy and controlled by ‘geas’ that make it impossible for them to act on impulse and in actual fact cause them increasing pain if they disobey a direct order.  The Guild who create the Clakkers closely guard their inner workings but unfortunately, every now and again, one of the Clakkers seems to break free of the restraints imposed and turn ‘rogue’.  And this is how the story starts – with a public execution of not only traitors to the Brasswork Throne but a Clakker who has broken free from his obligations.  It’s a great opening.  It keeps you hooked with suspense and immediately demonstrates that whilst these automatons are mechanically made objects – they do have the ability to think independently and are far from the simple machines without feelings that the Guild would have everyone believe.

At the start of the story, a precarious ceasefire has been agreed but it balances on a knife edge and rests on the French obeying the terms and conditions to the letter.  Of course, both sides are infiltrated by spies and double agents.  The Netherlands trying to protect their secrets and the French trying desperately to find out what makes the Clakkers tick before any more attacks come their way.

The story alternates around three main protagonists – Jax, a Clakker whose inner thoughts we become privvy to, Berenice, the spymaster general to King Louis and Father Visser who is in fact an undercover Catholic priest.  Their lives will become inextricably linked especially when Visser sets Jax on a mission which has a dramatic impact on both their lives and could potentially create the spark to start a whole new war.

What I found really impressive with this book is the way the author makes you care about all three of these characters.  I mean Jax is a mechanical and yet I just loved his character and really cared about him.  Similarly Berenice – talk about your creative cursing – she gets put through the wringer for sure but still comes out kicking and fighting.  Visser – well, the least said here the better.  I could barely read what he went through.

This is certainly an incredibly clever, complex and layered book and I’m sure that everyone who reads it will take away their own interpretation which is something that I really admire.  I will mention that the author doesn’t shy away from the more violent aspects of the story.  He simply tells it the way it is warts and all – and there are a few stomach turning scenes where blood and guts take a messy centre stage.  But, it’s not gratuitous simply realistic and a fairly honest look at the damage that a strong automaton could wreak on what are, comparatively speaking, fragile humans.  Is that an argument for imposing geas on the Clakkers – some seem to think so and yet the majority of the violence caused during the story is as a result of human interference.

Very thought provoking.  A gripping and enjoyable read with an ending that left me wanting to know when the next book comes out!

I received a copy of this from the publishers courtesy of Netgalley for which my thanks.  The above is my own opinion.