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Fantasy Friday – Escapement

Escapement by Jay Lake

Review by Bowden P. (Trey)

Mainspring by Jay Lake disappointed me. Then I read Green, which caught my attention in a good way. Which caused me to wonder if my memories of Escapement and Pinion were accurate, so I decided to re-read both. Its good that I did, because the two books are good.

Notably better than Mainspring in my eyes. And besides, its more fun to write review of a good book.

Escapement picks up two years after the events of Mainspring in 1902, with incidental characters from Mainspring being our viewpoints, plus one new one. Our viewpoints are Paolina Barthes (the new one), Librarian Childress and Chief Threadgill al-Wazir. Paolina is a young woman from a lost Portuguese colony on the Wall. She’s brilliant, easily surpassing Newton, who’s developed possibly the greatest innovation the world has known – the gleam. A ‘simple’ watch that allows her to set it to the rhythm of things in the world and then change them. She’s determined to go to England to meet the sorcerers there that created airships and allowed Britain to master the Northern Earth.

Chief al-Wazir survived the events of Mainspring and made his way home, only to be court martialled for the trouble. He’s given a chance to redeem himself in the eyes of the Navy by providing security for an expedition to the Wall – one that would burrow through the wall itself. Complicating matters is the head of the expedition, Doktor Ottweill, who is obsessed to the point of madness, and worse, the madness is catching…

Librarian Childress is taken far from her domain of the Yale Divinity School  by her secret society, the White Birds. From there she goes very far afield and rises very, very high.

The book weaves these three stories together, giving us a better look at the world as a whole, and portions of the Wall in particular. We get to see portions of Chinese dominated East Asia, British ruled Europe and the capitol of the Brass Men, Ophir as well. And I found the looks at these pieces worth the journey.

The ending of Escapement isn’t entirely to my taste – its a bit abrupt like the publisher split the book in two. Still, it does lead right into Pinion and the action resumes from there.

Likes: More and varied characters; Better view of Clockwork Earth than before; Able to see similarities and differences; Sorcery is powerful and dangerous; Childress seizing an opportunity out of danger; Boaz; Cities on the wall.

Dislikes: I occasionally felt like Paolina lead a charmed life – people forgave her her sharp tongue a bit too quickly.

Suggested For: Fans of Jay Lake, people who like interesting world building and steampunk fans.


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