Introduction to the world of the Engineering corps in The Engineering Corps | World Anvil

Introduction to the world of the Engineering corps

Short book synopsis
After a bloody battle, Adalinde is left the highest-ranking surviving officer of the French military engineering corps. The subsequent promotion catapults her at the head of the corps and forces her in close contact with the French état-major and the king who seems intent on involving her in his nefarious schemes. She now has to balance rebuilding the division she is leading and playing deadly politics, all while surrounded by people who do not trust her because of her Flemish birth.

Table of Contents





Alternate history and science fantasy with a romance subplot.


1840s magical France in the midst of political and industrial revolutions.

Unique selling point

Live the science fantasy aspects of the world through the eyes of engineers at the heart of the political, industrial and military revolutions sweeping through 19th century Europe!

Feel of the world

Greydim   Despite individual people having good intentions, successive French governments have not managed to reach a political balance and offer French people the safety, freedom and prosperity they demand. Because of this, political and societal events are uncontrollable and revolutions are always brewing, threatening to sweep over everything and everyone in their wake.   At the same time, recent technological developments are offering a glimpse of hope. In particular, the popular philosophy of Saint-Simonianism leading people to believe that science and progress are leading towards a utopian society that should be administered by the most competent and educated people. Nevertheless, such promises have yet to materialise, and for now industrialisation has only led to poverty, inequality and loss of social rights.   Yet, while people stuck in their ways are condemned to misery and death, such periods of upheaval are also an ideal ground for changes and opportunities for those who are ready to forget about their principles.

Setting the Scene

Adalinde by AmélieIS with Artbreeder

Main character

The main character of the novel is Adalinde. Born Flemish, her homeland was conquered by the French during the endless wars that sweep across Europe and she was forced to enlist in the French army. She is now a colonel serving in the engineering corps, surrounded by people who distrust her because of her foreign birth. A sudden promotion as the army corps general leading the engineers thrusts her in the midst of the politics of the army and the country and in the presence of the dangerous King of France.  
Adalinde had enlisted in the French army with the sole ambition of lying low, avoiding troubles, and getting out as soon as her mandatory 15 years were done. That had lasted about as long as it had taken her to realise how stupid her direct superior was.   If there was one thing that she hated, it was people who were wrong. The only thing she hated more was having those imbeciles lord their supposed superiority over her. Before she had realised it, she was fully engaged in the race for promotion, determined to be the one making the decisions. The right one, of course.

Technical developments and the engineering corps

Technological developments are primordial in the world of 19th century Europe. All European countries are locked in a fight for supremacy. The losers will be subjugated to the will of the winners, thus losing all of their political freedom and the power to influence the next societal developments in their own countries. Because of this, scientists and engineers are extremely well considered in and are viewed as vital players whose work constantly redefines society and military tactics.   Inside the engineering corps itself, competition for promotion is fierce, as everyone is dreaming of becoming the next Napoléon Bonaparte or Lucien Esselin, whose genius and military innovations led them the French crown. Coming up with small tricks or new technologies is the best way to get noticed and could be the trigger of a successful political career.  
This is MY molecule and I won't let you take credit for it!
— An enraged engineer to a collegue a few seconds before an "unfortunate" accident

Emblem by AmélieIS

King sacre
King Lucien by AmélieIS, Guérin and Artbreeder

Recent history

Since the first revolution of 1789, France has not known any peace. After finally executing its king, Louis XVI, in 1792 a new constitutional and elective monarchy was established. Since then, the kings have succeeded themselves on the throne, each attempting to impose his mark on France and its people with more or less success and popularity. The ability to participate in the elections has galvanised many French people and nowadays everyone has an opinion on politics and how things ought to be done, if only the king had more sense or, well, if a different king was on the throne. In the new French society, there is only one step between words and deeds, and it is a small one...

— Have you heard what the king has done now? Completely outrageous! We can't let that go on!

— ... I'm having a small gathering with friends tomorrow night, just having some drinks and making some small talk. Why don't you join us?
— Two industrialists with strong opinions


France remains mainly an agricultural society even though the industrial revolution has started decades ago, since all the political upheaval has limited its reach. Yet it is now finally starting to gain speed. French society is slowly changing and big manufacturies are appearing in the heart of cities, welcoming budding textile, chemical, alchemical, metallurgical, and mechanical industries. The big banks play a bigger and bigger role in financing all of those enterprises and a new class of industrialists is starting to appear. Yet, all this progress has only led to the subjugation of workers and the erosion of their rights.  
— Those imbecile canuts do not understand the economic situation! How can they ask for fixed wages when the price of silk is so low right now? And now they want to use the change of kings to create their own revolution and blackmail us into conceding to their demands?

— Don't worry, even if His Majesty is busy with the war, the government is using its authority to send troops to shoot at that rabble!
— Two silk industrialists from Lyon

Blue fire.jpg
Magic by Pixabay


Everyone possesses magical abilities. Training allows people to work some instinctual magic without any assistance, yet any sophisticated magic has to be worked through runes, artefacts, potions or rituals. Thus, those fields are the subject of intense research. All animals, plants and materials are also filled with magic that can work miracles, provided people learn to harness it correctly—the biggest example being coal which is at the heart of the industrial revolution.  
Splendid news for the Nord department! Industrialists in conjunction with the government are investing massively in the creation of new coal mines around the city of Courrières. Those Flemish ought to be happy we've conquered them now!

— Newspaper clipping


France is filled with more or less underground revolutionary societies and opposing political factions that hate each other. The country is also surrounded by enemy nations that keep forming large alliances whose unique goal is to defeat France and bring it down. Indeed, the revolutionary and Napoléonic wars of 1789-1815 have been followed by a brief period of peace after the English managed to influence the election of King Louis XVIII to the throne, but war resumed in 1830 and is still ongoing more than 15 years later.  
Will those bloody English ever take a hint? No matter how many times we defeat them and their allies, they keep coming back! And when they do not wage war against us, they meddle in our politics! Let us simply rase their country to be done with them.

— Newspaper clipping

One of the numerous battles of the revolution wars by the British Library on Unsplash

On a more personal level, Adalinde is stuck with a very important role in the army that forces her into the political scene while her mixed nationality leaves her without allies. With how important technological developments are for the future of the country, her every move is under close scrutiny.   To compound all of this, the king starts to take some interest in Adalinde for reasons known only to him, and he forcefully drags her into his nefarious schemes.  
What is the king doing, promoting that Flemish girl? And in the middle of the war against the Austrian! That's just asking for her to gift them back Lille and the Flanders!
— A member of the état major

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Cover image: Military hospital with Adalinde by AmélieIS with Pixabay and a public domain image


Please Login in order to comment!
Jun 7, 2021 11:42 by K.S. Bishoff

This was really great and draws one into wanting to read more. Still, I dont see it fitting as a quick intro, which is not a bad thing, just something to think about.

Come vist my worlds
Jun 7, 2021 22:30 by Amélie I. S. Debruyne

Thanks for your comment :D I did try to keep the primer short, but you know me :p

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