Review: The Rising (Alchemy Wars Part 2)

51rrwwieqcl-_sx335_bo1204203200_The Rising by Ian Tregillis, Orbit Books, Published 2015, Hugo eligibility: Best Novel.


This is the second part of Ian Tregillis’s Alchemy Wars series that started with The Mechanical. With the previous book ending on a cliff hanger and the publication date of this sequel so close, it would be fair to see this as simply the second part of a longer book.

he plot carries on almost straight from where it left off but now with an additional focus on the North American capital of North France which is preparing for a siege from the Dutch clockwork army.

This is a less philosophical and more action orientated book. The central here Jax (later renamed Daniel) continues his bid for freedom. As a broad plot the issues he faces in attempting to find friends and allies are predictable including fellow rebels who may not be what they seem.

The exotic weapons deployed as the French and Dutch come to blows can have the feel of somebody trying out a concept for a video game but there is real tension as the French try to survive against the mechanical onslaught. By casting neither side in the war as particularly good or sympathetic there is no expectation that the good guys will necessarily win. The focus on French characters and their status as the military underdog provides enough reason to care about the fate of the people of Marseilles-in-the-West but we are left in no doubt that the French do not have the best interest of the mechanicals in mind either.

Not as stunning as the first book in the series, more of a natural continuation of the previous books world-building. Worth reading and a decent middle-book in a trilogy but not particularly surprising or unexpected.



  1. sanddorn

    While I’m here: thanks a lot for the tip! I bought The Mechanical immediately after reading this.
    I’m right in the middle and it’s just great, aside from the awkward reading of some French and especially Dutch names (“tally rand”).
    Just last month, I finished listening to the Imperial Radch series, in one go due to Audible Germany’s tendency of forgetting the first part of series.
    The next step would be re-reading McCaffrey’s The Ship Who Sang (wow, that one scene). Asimov’s robot stories as well, but I fear they lose quite a lot in comparison.


      • sanddorn

        Not yet but it’s on my list.
        Admittedly, a Dark Dutch Empire with an early branch-off point is an easier start for me than a story that sounds like ‘consider both sides’ when one of them is Nazi Germany. I’d like to say it’s mostly about states and systems, not individuals.
        But that got me thinking. It’s in part due to complicated (family) history and definitely not very rational. Instinctively I’m repelled from seeing ‘that Germany’ get tweaked and succeed a little more, because it would have been my grandparents acting there.
        I spare you my half-baked thoughts about the GDR, for now. My “Wessi” approach has changed a lot over the decades.


      • sanddorn

        Speaking in general terms, this year I’ve had more than enough reminders that totalitarian and violent behavior can still get popular and appeasement policy towards open aggression is still not a viable solution (regardless of motivations).
        I followed the Hugo issue early on closely for some weeks, just reading, for distraction from regional and local issues. I see a lot of similarities with recent new right groups, and should read up on extremism and group dynamics. Some rhetorics really look like 1920s/1930s propaganda.
        Most of Germany has held up okayish but we had and still have some close calls, burning houses, even molotovs. Anyway, it’s much better than the early 90s, Saxonia is an exception, and some people (including me) finally got somehow active for people and against violence. First time I actually fought against extremists in public (just words and some sit-ins).


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