Book Review: Escapement by
Published in 2009 Tor Books
Cover art by Stephan Martinieri
Escapement is the sequel to Mainspring,
JayLake’s superb novel of the Brassclockwork World divided into a Northern Hemisphere and a Southern Hemisphere divided by The Wall. Miles and miles of Wall that stretches up into the sky that encircles the world and has the brass teeth at the top that carries the world on the Gears of Heaven. The medieval orrey made manifest in the setting, where the world does turn on gears and spins about the sun in a perfect pattern carried. Where the Brass Christ died on the horofix and where evidence of Divine Power can be visibly seen every day.
Escapement takes place about 5 years after the end of the events in Mainspring. It has three (3) main plots, with a main character for each one. As the book progresses, two of the plots and characters work within each others tale, while at the end all three come together.
It opens with Paolina, a young girl of Portuguese descent who lives in a subsistence level colony of shipwreck survivors along The Wall, A Muralha as they call it there.
She chafes under the very patronizing masculine oriented society she has lived her life in. Then a stranger comes to the village and opens her mind and eyes to the outer world and the adventure, for her, begins then and there.
The second character comes to the tale from Mainspring. Threadgill Angus al-Wazir (one of the great names in fiction I have seen in the 35 some years I have been an active reader) former sailor in the Royal Navy, surface and air, that was introduced in Mainspring. Since the adventures in that novel his fortunes and career have waned and now an opportunity to return to The Wall where the ship he had flown on and served aboard had been lost, now he has a chance to return there on an expedition, allowing for a sense, perhaps, of redemption or at least validation, as well as work.
The third character is the Librarian Emily McHenry Childress, of
New England in the British Colonies. A member of one of the two main secret societies that are striving one against the other to shape and mold The Northern Hemisphere (for remember The Wall encircles the Equator). Summoned, essentially kidnapped, by her secret employers, circumstances related to Mainspring make her a focal point of intrigue which later intersects with the other two characters as all three strive to survive in difficult times far outside their comfort zones.
This novel is a good chunk of creativity. Weighing in at 457 pages, with no extraneous material in this reviewers opinion. The pacing is kept up and at no time does it seem the characters are not being themselves. At times Paolina seems a little one track, a little locked into her mindset, yet all the main and supporting characters grow and remain true to their selves within the novel.
I had purchased it at the Barnes and Nobles in
Sioux City, IA June of 2009 and it had disappeared into my bookcases until heading back there this summer for vacation. Taking it along for the plane flights and travel time was an excellent move. It held my attention and was compelling. The characters are people, more realistic than most are in novels, with a clear sense of Victorian Like sensibilities and mores. The depictions of shipboard and aerial ship life, in this opinion, as in the first novel Mainspring, accurate enough for this 20 year US Navy Veteran to not wince with inaccuracies and make me nod my head along with dialogue and occurrences, as they could happen that way. Unlike many SF or Fantasy novels and their depiction of shipboard or related (spaceship) life, that is patently implausible. These were not; they are plausible given the context and environment.
I did lose track a few times when the novel intersected with the events in Mainspring. This is solely due to a lack of remembering the first novel well enough when I read it when it first came out in 2007. However Mainspring has been moved up in the queue of books to re-read for a proper reviewing.
Buy Mainspring, then buy Escapement, then get Pinion and enjoy the Brass Gears World of The Wall.
Note: as of the writing of this review a copy of Pinion, the 3rd novel, has been ordered and is on the way.
Cover artist Stephan Martiniere
His work for this book from his site