Irenicon is a strange book and it took me some time to get into it. I think part of my problem was the write-up/blurb about it. The question posed was, “What would have happened if Jesus Christ had died as an infant?” Which made me think the author was going try for an alternate history or a big game of “what if?” Well, this is a fantasy based on alternate history and it has plenty of ‘magic’ in it (not sorcerers and witches casting spells–it’s much more subtle but it’s there). So the mention of Christ being slaughtered in a purge as a child is not the meat of the story.
The story is centered around the town Rasenna, Italy. The year is 1347. Rome is no more and Concord is the current power in the region. The ruling class are called the Engineers and at their head are the Apprentices. The engineers were formed by Bernoulli, and he cast down the church and replaced the nobility. A couple decades earlier, the Engineers used a terrible weapon against Rasenna that broke the town.
Sofia Scaligeri is the last of her line, and she is the heir to Rasenna. Her family ruled before the wave and she will inherit when she turns 17, less than a year away. After the Concordians attacked the town with the Wave – killing a large swath of Rasenna including most of the Scaligeri family – the city was never the same. The river divided the town in more ways than one.
Giovanni is an Engineer who is sent to Rasenna to build a bridge across the river before the 12th legion comes in the fall. Spanning the river with iron and stone won’t be his only challenge. Getting the citizens on both sides of the river to cooperate on the project will be an even bigger challenge. Stone and iron are easy to manipulate into the shape you want but stubborn people are much more difficult. The clock is ticking, and Concord isn’t very forgiving of those who hinder its goals.
As I said, it took me a little bit to get into this book mostly because I misunderstood what kind of book it was. However, once I did get into it, I found it to be very interesting and I had a hard time putting it down. There is a lot going on, lots of plots within plots and I think I will be keeping my eye out for the next book in the series.
Caleb is a software engineer and amateur woodworker living in southern Minnesota. He has more hobbies than he has time or money for, and enjoys his quiet time reading.
Review copy was provided free of any obligation by Jo Fletcher Books. No monetary or any other form of compensation was received.