Me longer than usual to read When I first started this last year I had just hit my reading slump which meant that I got stuck at about page 42 and didn t pick it back up until somewhere this summer And even on my second try it took me a bit to get really grabbed by the narrative However I liked the writing immediately Cowan writes in an easy manner which has you reading on without noticing the passage of pages It s worth noting that the title and cover of the book were somewhat misleading as they come off as SF but The Machinery very definitely isn t that it is far high fantasy up to and including a prophecy narrativeSet in a somewhat nebulous world ruled by an oligarchy of a Strategist and Tacticians who gain office not by dint of their suitability or chosen by the people but are selected by the mysterious entity nown as the Machinery The Machinery is located in the Underland where it was built by the Operator who is revered by the people of what is commonly The Literary Relationship of Lord Byron and Thomas Moore known as the Overland He built the Machinery to ensure the rule in the Overland but at the same time a prophecy arose that the Machinery will break in its 10000th year And this is where the nebulosity of the world becomes apparent There is a ton of history there that is never revealed at least not yet and much of how this world came to be the way we find it at the start of the book is left unexplained as is most of the world at large There is only a small portion of the Overland that we learn about beyond vague allusion The world just left me with so many uestions not the least of which is how come in 10000 years there seemingly has been little to no evolution in the way society works and in the technology people possess Is that due to people honouring the Operator and thus consciouslyeeping things the same or is it something elseWhile the world building on a grand scale left me with reservations I loved the intricacies of the political landscape in the Overland The hierarchy of the Strategist and Tacticians and the way that the somewhat random selection of people to their posts whether they wanted to be selected or not made for some interesting situations and complications Not to mention the intrigue and scheming that is woven into the fabric of the upper echelons of this society The resultant mistrust and paranoia is underlined by the presence of the Watchers essentially a secret police led by Tactician Brightling The Watchers are a powerful organisation whose nature beyond functioning as a secret police remains mysterious How much of their skills is down to simple observation or science or is there a part that is actual magic The Masks the Watchers wear as a sign that they are a full fledged members of the order provide them with at least some preternatural skills if only the ability to force their subjects to tell them the truthThe Watchers are also home to my favourite characters in the book Katrina and Aranfel Katrina is the main character She is the last scion of the house of Paprissi and she is the pupil and ward of Brightling Watching Tactician of the Overland This places her at the heart of much of the political action or at least in a prime position to witness the happenings Katrina s main motivation is her disappeared brother Alexander who was taken into the Underland by the Operator It is in her uest to discover his fate that we learn about the Underland which reminded me a lot of the traditions surrounding the land under the hill There seems to be the same timeless uality to any sojourn there as is common for people who were taken by the Fae Aranfel is Brightling s second and not exactly Katrina s friend but I enjoyed his caustic comments and his interactions and grudging friendship with the gregarious Stoutsuat a lotIn the end this is very much the start of a series There is a ton of world building and character introduction and development and plenty of action but the book ends on uestions than answers and leaves a host of loose ends to be followed up on in the next book The Machinery s seuel The Strategist will be published next January If you like your epic fantasy with plenty of political scheming and a twist then you should definitely check out The Machinery and you ll be able to roll right on into the next bookThis book was provided for review by the publisher ve been thinking about The Machinery for a couple of days and struggling to come up with a coherent review Put bluntly I m not sure that I totally understand yet what exactly is going on I certainly came away from this first novel with plenty of uestions and I ve explored a few ideas but overall I think this is a very clever novel even if it feels a little psychedelic in partsOkay firstly I have no idea of the time or place that the novel is set We have a
strange world where for the past 10000 years the people have been governed by the choices world where for the past 10000 years the people have been governed by the choices The Machine The Machine chooses Strategists who govern the overland These people live a privileged life once chosen but they re chosen at random from the general populace they might be hawking goods from a market stall one moment and elevated to a ey political
the next seems to be no rhyme or reason to the machine s choices and no discrimination in terms of age sex etc Alongside these we have Tacticians and also Watchers Would it be trite to say they watch well they do They have masks that they wear and they seek out the Doubters The Doubters are the ones who believe in the prophecy A strange prophecy that after 10000 years the machine will choose one who will bring ruin And of course at the start of the story the current Strategist dies under strange conditions which means The Machine will now choose a new person to take the roleSo the scene is set and the political machinations are running amok with backstabbing and whisperings It seems that some people are trying to influence the selection and even those who profess not to believe the prophecy seem to be going to great lengths to be the final chosen one so clearly they believe in at least one part of the prophecyOn top of the above we have the Underland This is where the Operator chiefly resides although he does make the occasional appearance to the overland to whisper secrets or poison into the tacticians ears The Operator is something of a creepy character with his swirling cloakThe main characters of the story are Katrina whose brother was taken by the Operator when she was a young girl Brightling a powerful tactician who seems to be the Operator s ey tactician General Brandione who has fought in the many wars to secure the plateau and ensure they all fall under the rule of the machine Aranfal a watcher much feared and of course the OperatorI will say this is a difficult book to review simply because it s difficult to say too much without giving away spoilers and that added to the fact that I m still unclear about everything that actually has taken place gives me a certain reticence to say too muchGoing into this story I was under the impression that this was sci fi but I don t think that s really the case it almost has a dystopian world feel in a way and I would be likely to describe it as high fantasy I think I was misleading myself a little due to the name and because I had preconceived ideas about The Machinery which in fact turned out to be totally wrong Having completed this I think The Machine is of a concept and less of an actual thing More a way of eeping control if you like rather than being a huge chunk of metal with cogs and wheels I m trying to think of a comparison a bit like you have God and then you have the Bible to me The Operator and the Machine feel a little like that although let me be clear I m just using that as a way to make a point and not saying that is the case here That being said I m not sure if the Operator and a number of similar characters are actually supposed to be Gods living in this world and meddling like I said above I m not sure about a number of things Is the Underland a version of hell it s certainly a little bit twisted and surreal I really don t now and that is the simple truth and I feel like I m assigning ideas to the author which are just my own strange interpretation That is how this book makes you feelThe writing well this isn t one of those books that you would describe as whimsical or lyrical but don t let that put you off This is uite frankly a very intriguing read and uite compelling In spite of the fact that I sometimes felt a little in the dark I never felt the urge to stop readingSo yes this ended with perhaps uestions than it began I don t really have a handle on what s absolutely going on although I hope I have the basics but it s certainly a series that I will continue Thought provoking unusual and uniue it ends on a bit of a cliffhanger that makes you really want the next book Bring on the strangeI received a copy of this courtesy of the author through Netgalley for which my thanks The above is my own opinion. Kidnapping of her brother Alexander the only person on the Plateau who The Shaping of Western Civilization knew the meaning of the ProphecyWhen the opportunity arises to find her brother Katrina must travel into the depths of the Underland the home of the Machinery to confront the Operator himself and discover just what makes the world wo. I received an eARC of this book from the author in exchange for an honest review This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of this reviewHave you ever read a book that left you wondering what the heck and wanting all at the same time The Machinery by Gerrard Cowan is that book With it s name and even it s description I was expecting an epic sci fi adventure but it didn t take but just the first chapter to correct that assumption The Machinery falls into an epic fantasy with elements of sci fi thrown in Honestly it was excellent I finished the book roughly a few weeks ago and it has taken me several days to 1 recover emotionally and 2 pull my thoughts together for a coherent reviewCowan has created a massive list of characters all of who share the spotlight eually and lend their POV to the story Yet all of the characters seem to center their actions around that of one character Katrina Paprissi Katrina is 17 and the only living member of her family She s now a watcher in training watchers are like policemenenforcers in this society Yet something is off about her There are two voices battling it out in her head She calls one of them herid self the other is mature and sadistic At a young age she watched her brother s abduction and she will do anything to get him back It s why she s a watcher or at least this is what she tells herselfThe world building is just as large as the characters for this debut author and I felt that he s done a phenomenal job In this world there is the Overland and the land of the Operator 10 millennia ago the Operator gifted the Overland with the Machinery The machinery picks the leaders and basically makes all the decisions for the populace The people have very little to no say in the society and follow the Operator blindly BUT a prophecy was made that in the 10000th year the Machinery would break and guess what It s the 10000th year This prophecy really adds to the suspense of the entire novel as you eep waiting for it to be fulfilledThe plot centers around the death of the Strategist think ing president etc With his death the Machinery will pick all new leaders and everyone wonders what will happen as this is the 10000th year Yet there is also speculation with good reason that the Strategist s death was no accident The characters all to some degree investigate his death and they do NOT like what they uncoverOverall I really enjoyed this book It s fast paced intriguing and even with the large amount of characters and varying POV I didn t get lost As debut novels go I would never have realized that The Machinery was one if I hadn t been told If you enjoy epic fantasy with a little sci fi thrown in I highly suggest you grab a copy and prepare for a wild ride original review JC s Book Haven It does not trust you It nows you do not believe it The Operator laughed and the room seemed to darken I like you Alexander I like that you think you can talk to me in such a way about my own creation You do not understand it fully Operator If you did you would believe the words Ruin is coming The GoodI really enjoy some of the powerful characters in the story The Operator and Suatstout for instance They really differ from one another while at the same time make it clear they are relatedI liked Katrina and found myself admiring her will to go on I enjoyed the ideal of the machine as it didn t care about your bloodline or pedigree when choosing a ruler Today you could be selling plums and tomorrow you could be in charge of everyone and every thingThe BadWhile I don t mind when the first book in a series leaves me with uestions I feel this one left me with a whole lot of uestions Book two is pretty important to me as I m hoping for some answersConclusionOverall I did enjoy this one The world was different to what I normally experience The characters were fun yet there were uite a few of them Overall not much action takes place as it s cloak and dagger then anything else I would say if you are looking for something fresh with the cloak and dagger feel to it and don t mind when an answer leaves you with two uestions then you should read this book This review originally appeared on Pop VerseI met Gerrard Cowan last year at FantasyCon where we both sat on a panel discussing writing habits His debut novel The Machinery was initially released last year with a paperback available from March 2016 The follow up The Strategist is due out in JuneDon t let the title or cover fool you The Machinery is not a science fiction novel The book falls firmly in the realm of fantasy from prophecies chosen ones and magic The military aspect of the "novel and seemingly the series might also suggest space opera or other military science fiction tropes "and seemingly the series might also suggest space opera or other military science fiction tropes again this is all fantasy This didn t bother me being an avid fantasy and science fiction reader but I can imagine this might irritate people who pick it up in a bookstoreFor those who do pick it up The Machinery is a tale of good intentions ultimately failing There s magic and politics conspiracies and rhetoric The novel is exceedingly ambitious for a debut Though easy to read and certainly full of intriguing narrative uestions the execution doesn t uite hold up when telling such a complex and convoluted story For ten millennia the leaders of the Overland have been Selected by the Machinery an omnipotent machine gifted to their world in darker daysBut the Overland is not at ease for the Machinery came with the Prophecy it will break in the 10000th year Selecting just one leader who will bring Ruin to the world And with the death of Strategist Kane a Selection is set to occurStrength Power "AuthorityThe Novel Is Easy To " novel is easy to with Cowan s prose feeling pleasantly un intrusive There are a few teething issues however as expected in a debut My biggest issue is his writing tick if you will of using similes and not just any similes almost exclusively like similes in his figurative descriptions This would also have been such an easy thing for an editor to pick up on Weeding out even a few of these instances I once counted four sentences in a row using a like simile could have improved the overall uality of the prose and the flow of the writing considerablyThe story is told in third person limited with a number of different focal characters There are obvious structural reasons for this choice Cowan eeps the reader at arms length for most of the characters giving us internal dialogue only when it won t give away any information The inner thoughts we do receive are mostly rhetorical uestions which do get tiring as the book wears on The problem with hanging the novel on the mystery of what the hell is actually going on is that we are never given true insight into character motivations Those we do see of Brandione and Rangle for instance are mere puppets for a plot to act upon rather than the characters having any agency of their own The Machinery fails in this instance particularly with the character of Tactician Brightling with many of her actions being bizarre and manipulative without ever giving the reader an insight into the why of it I felt too far removed from the main actionI find this lack of agency a common issue with prophecy narratives Not only does it take away much of the impetus in having characters strive to circumvent a foregone conclusion the language of the prophecy is so very generic Prophecies are like star signs they could apply to anyone given the right reading Too much time in prophecy tales is spent on trying to figure out the language of a prophecy and apply it to whoever is central to the story or to mould the wording into an outcome the reader is invested inWhat is potentially a very interesting aspect of the world is almost entirely skipped over the magic We Medicine and Religion know that magic is at play with the Operator Suatstout the masks etc but we are given no explanation as to what the limitations or costs of the magic are The only conseuence that is ever hinted at is for Watchers using the masks to see into people and even then this is left vague referred to early on and then never again As a result it feels undercooked and the fantasy nerd in me desperately wanted tonow about itUltimately there are too many uestions left unanswered in The Machinery While it is important to have readers with remaining uestions at the end of a novel when it s the first in a trilogy there needs to be enough to hold the plot of the book together on its own Given I was still unclear on the history of our baddie how the Operator managed to create the Machinery what Brightling s plan was what happened to Katrina whatrole the next
s going on with Suatstout I was left feeling frustrated and unfulfilled when I came to the last pagegoing on with Suatstout I was left feeling frustrated and unfulfilled when I came to the last page least The Strategist will be coming out soon It is strange how reliant we have become on an external object to guide us on the path to greatness Verdict An overly ambitious fantasy debut that leaves too many uestions unanswered The Prophecy s time is coming to For ten millennia the leaders of the Overland have been Selected by the Machinery an omnipotent machine gifted to their world in darker daysThe city has thrived in arts science and war crushing all enemies and expanding to encompass the entire PlateauBut the Overland is not at ease for the Machinery cam.
Gerrard Cowan ´ 1 FREE READE fulfilled After 10000 years the events are aligning that threaten the existence of the Overland and there seems no way to avoid their ruin The Machinery is breaking down and a world that has been guided by the Machinery and has accepted its arbitrary choices in leadership is floundering in chaosWho is assisting the Machinery or attempting to position themselves as the next leader A Strategist has been The Hockey Saint (Forever Friends, kill I received this book from the author through NetGalley in exchange for an honest reviewThere is an intriguing concept at the core of this novel the part of the world in which the action takes place the Overland is governed by the Machine a mysterious and unseen construct that has ruled for ten thousand years slowly but surely extending the Overland s dominion over anynown territory The Machine interacts with the people through the Operator a timeless character eually shrouded in mystery who acts as a bridge communicating the Machine s choices in rulers these are people selected at random from all stations in life and all ages No matter how strange or inexplicable some Selections may appear everyone is convinced that the Machine has chosen well That is except for the DoubtersThese are the people reminding everyone of the Prophecy the one claiming that after ten thousand years the Machine will select the One the bringer of chaos and destruction and as the story starts to unfold that time is drawing nearSuch a fascinating premise is carried on the virtual shoulders of intriguing characters and concepts first among them are the Watchers the Overland s euivalent of a police force all seeing and all powerful led by Tactician Brightling one of the Machine s selections and to my eyes the very embodiment of the warning about who watches the watchers These controllers are both respected and feared their main task being not so much the Valentino keeping of the peace since the populace seems little inclined to mayhem given their long ingrained submission to the Machine s rule but rather the rooting out of Doubters The latter seem to be growing in numbers as the prophesied year of doom is upon the Overland and the general situation places everyone at a crossroads but none than the Watchers uncovering what might be an underlying insecurity in this police force or maybe in its commanding officer Two of the main themes that most intrigued me are theidnapping that happens in the first chapter and the final conuest of the remaining independent territory in the Overland Young Alexander Paprissi the son of a renowned merchant and explorer hears a voice he attributes to the Machine telling him that it s breaking down no one is inclined to believe him and one night the boy is idnapped by the Operator himself under the eyes of Alexander s younger sister Katrina whose point of view fifteen years after the fact will represent one of the main narrative threads in the story Even fascinating is the political problem created by the end of expansion I had the impression that the takeover of the whole Overland territory was one of the means employed by the Machine and its Tacticians to eep the people focused on a shared goal Now that all has been conuered unless one intends to cross the sea in search of other lands over which the Machine has no control something seems to be missing this concept is discussed fleetingly but there is a definite undercurrent of unease every time it surfaces and it serves well to outline the figure of General Brandione another great character in the story It s nevertheless a factor for instability and it adds its weight to a situation that s far from predictableAdd to all this the presence of some enigmatic players whose role and goals are beyond undefined and the constant addition of clues about the possible fulfillment of the dire Prophecy and you have a compelling book that through flawless pacing and constant but well measured shifts in point of view Shunned keeps you reading on sometimes until the small hours There is a steady increase in tension a build up of details that paints an ever widening picture that practically challenges you to uncover its hidden secrets For me there was also an added treat the suggestion of a advanced past now forever lost to memory and committed to legend it s theind of detail that adds depth to a story even when my uestions remain unanswered or maybe exactly because of that having all the answers can sometimes be unsatisfactory than remaining with some open doubts This is the ind of book that always poses a difficult choice for me saying would mean revealing precious clues that should be discovered by readers on their own saying less seems to pay a disservice to a good story And then there is the cliffhanger ending holding a few unexpected surprises that makes the reading of the next volumes in the trilogy practically mandatoryNot that it will be a chore Review posted at SPACE and SORCERY BLOG Every so often you come across a book that really hits the spot For me The Machinery was just such a book An intriguing plot Characters that emerge from what we learn about them from other characters creating a complex web of relationships A wholly convincing world that clearly inhabits a borderland between the real and the surreal All very tasty Yet important as these all are for me there is an added dimension to this book that lifts it and that is the feel of those things in combination In that respect The Machinery is sui generis Its otherworldly weirdness permeates the whole thing and it does so without any apparent effortThe degree of abstractness and the disjunct one only normally experiences in dream creates an underlying mood that put me in mind of Mervyn Peake The characters have a similar grotesueness to the inhabitants of Gormenghast and they are
locked into a cycle of ancient and arcane rituals whose meaning has been lost yetinto a cycle of ancient and arcane rituals whose meaning has been lost yet speaks of great catastrophe and desperate survivalThere is also the sense that surface events are just that the characters moved like puppets by deeper movements and the manipulation of unseen forces And that surface is fragile brittle likely to collapse at any moment and plunge the whole edifice into chaos This is a fantasy that is literate a novel that is fantastical a work that avoids all the usual tropes to provide a deeply satisfying readThe story itself a With a name like The Machinery I think I was expecting this novel to be straight science fiction but I uickly realised we re in the realms of a fantasy Gerrard Cowan has created a genuinely intriguing work of fiction that grabs you from page one We jump straight into the midst of the story with a short prologue dealing with a boy called Alexander and his apparent abduction Years later his sister Katrina is still none the wiser to the reasons behind his disappearance All she Oba, the Last Samurai knows is that the event set off a chain reaction that has left her alone Just how does her family figure into an ancient prophecy and what will it mean for herThe thing I particularly enjoyed about this novel is how the Machinery and its labyrinthine workings are shrouded in mystery The civilization that has developed around this enigmatic machine have created their own mythology for explaining their lot The myriad rules and regulations are ingrained in every aspect of society and can be seen in everyone s day to day lives Different factions control different aspects of the Overland and they are in turn ruled by a groupnown as the Strategists The old
axiom power corrupts and absolute power corrupts absolutely is very much in evidence with these individuals The Machinery has selectedpower corrupts and absolute power corrupts absolutely is very much in evidence with these individuals The Machinery has selected Strategists for millennia always working to its own obscure agenda but what happens when the people in power decide they want I had a minor epiphany about this novel about three uarters of the way through The Overland represents everything that is comfortable safe and secure and the Machinery is part of that constant It might not be perfect but it is a Yonen Buzz, Volume 1 (Yonen Buzz, known uantity 10000 years of the same thing have lulled the populace into a false sense of security The uestion being asked is What happens when it all ends Eventually any society will collapse a world will cease to be How do you prepare for an inevitable change Cowan s novel is ultimately a fable about facing the fear of the unknown Some will run the other way or bury their heads in the sand while others will face their fears and embrace whatever comes nextCowan s debut successfully explores a plethora of different ideas while still maintaining a weirdly surreal edge Characters are not often exactly who or what they first appear to be and iteeps a reader constantly on their toes "The Story Is Part Apocalypse Part Mystery And Entirely Captivating "story is part apocalypse part mystery and entirely captivating you re looking for a new voice in fantasy whose writing is going to get you thinking then look no further Still doing the crazy giggling It s that inda book RTC Gerrard Cowan s The Machinery is an interesting debut novel It is also one that took. E with the Prophecy it will break in the 10000th year Selecting just one leader who will bring Ruin to the world And with the death of Strategist Kane a Selection is set to occurFor Apprentice Watcher Katrina Paprissi the date has special significance Life hasn’t been the same since she witnessed the. ,