I enjoy the Free Wrench stories because of the ingenuity, sheer insanity, and grand adventures centered on good, if a little odd, people. This book holds true to those elements and offers some growing moments I wasn’t expecting. As with the others, it’s told in a rotating point of view, giving even small characters a moment to hold the limelight. This works especially well to demonstrate the themes around the difference between legends and realities. I did enjoy the early conversation on this very topic, especially with regards to the dreadnought’s destruction seeing as it was the least believed by fuggers, and by far, the most accurate.
Ichor Well both brings back some characters from Skykeep in an interesting way and introduces a host of new characters, some of whom have their own complete, if truncated, character arcs while others just may carry on into later books. One in particular I hope to see more of as she reminds me a little of Nita, though with a different specialty. I also enjoyed the expansion of Gunner’s character while the ability of the crew to point out moments of humor is fun, whether self-directed, or gently poking fun at others’ failure to demonstrate characteristics like subterfuge.
The story plays to the Wind Breaker’s crew’s strengths, especially those most would consider failings, particularly where Lil and Coop are concerned. If the story belongs to any one character in specific, I’d say Lil’s ponderings and observations hold the most weight, allowing for a significant character arc while everything is falling apart around them.
Seriously, what could be a more enticing offer than the chance at true freedom, and what better to balance it against but the almost sure expectation it’ll turn out to be a trap? How the crew works around both their own concerns and the situations they face is wonderful to be seen. Their arch nemesis plays a shadow role, something he would object to at length, but while in some ways he’s surprisingly effective, in others he’s very much overblown. It offers some humor as well. He’s not a character I’d like to spend more time with for reasons of arrogance and maltreatment of those around him, but at the same time, it’s hard to look away because I want to see how he’s going to trip over his ego, which is a compelling power in and of itself.
Another aspect I very much appreciated was the growth in the crew’s understanding of the fuggers. There were many instances of cross-cultural communication that stripped away false information in favor of a, sometimes terrifying, truth. Lucius, their unknown enemy, was instrumental in demonstrating how fugger society worked, but other characters also provided tidbits to build a greater picture where before there was only supposition and rumor. Gunner shared an interesting thought at one point as to how it was better not to know a people you universally hate because you might discover some don’t deserve that emotion.
All in all, there’s a lot going on, both action and character growth, while pretty much everyone gets their moment to shine, even Wink and especially Nikita, the two aye-ayes. The epilogue also contains a nice teaser for the next book that was well-seeded enough for me to wonder if that was the case earlier on, but I never found the confirmation until then.
The Free Wrench series continues to delight me, and I look forward to seeing just how the next one shapes up.