Tuesday, July 6, 2010

Book Report: Mainspring, by Jay Lake

I'm apparently reading backwards, as I've already read the sequel to this: Escapement. I had some issues with that book, which remain because I thought it left too much up in the air. However some of the blanks have been filled in, and naturally, I wish I'd read Mainspring first.

It's the story of Hethor, a clockmaker's apprentice in a world where everything is clockwork. The mainspring of the world is winding down and the gears that connect Earth to Heaven are starting to stutter and lose time. An angel appears and orders Hethor to find the Key Perilous and use it to rewind the mainspring. The quest takes the reader through an incredibly well-imagined world from the Northern Earth where Queen Victoria reigns over the American Colonies and airships defend the empire from the encroaching Chinese, to the Southern Earth where monsters are common and sorcerers live in ancient cities.

The writing was excellent, the plotting well constructed. My two complaints are that I guessed the nature of the Key Perilous too easily, spoiling the impact of the final revelation, and that so much is left unexplained (eg: the "white bird" conspiracy which is the focus of the next book, why the Wall is peopled by monsters and robots while Northern Earth is relatively normal). These are minor complaints, as Lake's Earth is such a fascinating place.

Mainspring, by Jay Lake

Ulysses Rating: 4 - I loved this.

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