From Publishers Weekly
Lake (Trial of Flowers
) envisions the universe as an enormous clockwork, put in motion by God, complete with gears and a mainspring hidden at the Earth's center, in his intriguing first trade hardcover novel, a fantasy set in the magic-tinged late 19th century. Archangel Gabriel charges clockmaker's apprentice Hethor Jacques with a quest: he must find the lost Key Perilous so that the Mainspring of the World can be rewound. Hethor leaves New Haven, Conn., for Boston, where he boards Her Imperial Majesty's Ship of the Air Bassett
and travels south to the towering Equatorial Wall, along the top of which run the great gears that rotate the earth. Hethor soon discovers opponents who don't want the mainspring rewound. He must deal with dark magicians, monstrous winged savages, mechanical men and other wonders during his epic journey, which takes him over the wall and into a land of wonders. The author of more than 200 short stories, Lake demonstrates his enormously fertile imagination in this unusual book, marred only by some sluggish pacing. (June)
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*Starred Review* In a visibly clocklike world, a clockmaker's apprentice with an excellent ear for the meshing of time at midnight is visited by the angel Gabriel, who tells him he must seek the Key Perilous, travel to the Earth's workings, and wind the mainspring, or disaster will ensue. Hethor, the apprentice, has no idea what the Key Perilous is, so he goes to his master's son, Pryce, who ridicules him and accuses him of stealing the feather the angel left as proof of the visitation. Fortunately, the librarian Hethor meets next is more sympathetic and provides him with guidance and a pass code that serves him well in the adventures he has after Pryce's accusation gets him kicked out of town. Imprisonment, impression into the royal navy, in which he learns the art of navigating an airship, and a final plunge into and beyond the wilds of the equatorial wall on the southern continents highlight the journey, during which Hethor meets all sorts of fascinating people and members of the more mysterious races living on and over the wall. Lake's steampunk-esque alternative nineteenth century is an astonishing, marvelous place, and the quest for the world's mainspring is a fascinating fable of a young man's sudden, unexpected education out in and about the great world. Schroeder, Regina Copyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved