Title: The Soul Machines
Author: Alexandru Czimbor
The Soul Machines begins with seventeen-year-old Tudor Vogt gathering chestnuts in a restricted forested area of Transylvania. The area is off-limits as it is controlled by a wealthy bishop. Tudor became the man of the house upon his father’s untimely passing. He looks after his mother and two younger sisters. Tudor doesn’t hold a high regard for authority. As he wanders through the forest, he happens upon a mysterious discovery. He confides in his friends, Roli and Sami, but doesn’t go back to re-examine the object until Sami is incapacitated after going to view it himself. The power of the enigmatic item is still up for debate when a mysterious count comes into town and befriends Tudor.
The tone is set early on in Alexandru Czimbor’s enticing mystery as Tudor’s insubordination leads to a consequential location. The implications of Tudor’s secret discovery, while not initially apparent, slowly reveal itself as Czimbor gradually builds the suspense. The impediments of being at the bottom of the social class is perfectly drawn out by Czimbor in writing of Tudor’s insecurities along with his occasional acts of rebellion. Czimbor adeptly writes of a rapidly evolving Europe, which is heading toward social upheaval.
The primary themes that are persistent through the book are love, friendship, and ambition. There is a strong bond of friendship that unites Tudor and his best friends. The trio will do anything for each other, even if it means putting their lives on the line. As events develop in the story, their solidarity is tested through various means. Love is felt almost instantly by Tudor when he sees Orsolya. Though the feeling is not initially reciprocated, Tudor feels a spark between the two. However, Orsolya is betrothed to the wealthy rogue named Karoli. Karoli’s love for Orsolya is not nearly as pure as Tudor and soon becomes an obsession. Karoli has a lust for power that outstrips any love.
Tudor perfectly encapsulates the underdog role in life and in love, as he fights for acknowledgement in both. Although his mother is the key provider, custom dictates that he take over the dominant male role in the house. He is a boy on the cusp of manhood, yet it’s the mystery of the object that leads to him receiving a premature push. Tudor is the heart and soul of the story and represents the good in humanity. The contrast to Tudor is Karoli, nephew to the avaricious bishop. Karoli represents entitlement run amok. Karoli desires Orsolya and the mystery item, and will run over anyone to get it. His affinity for nationalism foreshadows the coming dark times for Europe.
The story offered by Alexandru Czimbor suffers from very few flaws except for the lack of backstory with respect to Count Richter and his connection to the ill-fated object. The object possesses unbridled power and the Count has a vague idea of its capabilities, but there is not much elaboration on that point. The story would have benefited by expanding on the linkage between the man and object.
The Soul Machines is a remarkable epic mystery that will capture the imagination of the mystery lover. Author Alexandru Czimbor has written a book that will leave readers hungry for more.
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