This was an interesting take on what could have happened in the American war between the States. Now being British I don’t know a lot about this war apart from that it was between the Union – The North (mostly) and the Confederacy – The South (mostly. And that there was a freeing of all the slaves – mostly held in the South that was involved. So iI was not concerned about the ‘real’ war and what really happened at particular battles etc.
You just have to remember that this an alternate universe which closely parallels ours but where there is aether to power machines, and that clockwerk – note the spelling – creates a large number of artificial items, mechanical men. horses , to artificial limbs. there are gears and cogs and everything you might expect in clockwork items, but often also aether power as well. These items are programmed by Babbage cards – yes punch cards as per weaving machines/early computers, or if we assume that Babbage’s and Lovelace’s work was completed and experimented with.
I liked the writing and found the characters believable within their frame of reference. and one especially good point about this universe is that women are powerful, skilled, and take part in everything that men do, including becoming front line soldiers and holding command.
I also love the ‘what if’ concept of this universe and that you are taken for a ride by the author’s imagination.