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Escapement (Clockwork Earth) Hardcover – June 24, 2008

3.6 out of 5 stars 11 customer reviews
Book 2 of 3 in the Clockwork Earth Series

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Editorial Reviews

From Bookmarks Magazine

Escapement is a more ambitious, and, in many ways, a more complex book than its predecessor, Mainspring. Though both books are clever combinations of steampunk (SF elements translated to the Victorian era), alternate history, and fantasy, Lake hits his stride here, neatly balancing intriguing characters with the sort of clear, driving plot (and a few important subplots) and world building that keeps readers in the game. Lake’s star is on the rise in the science fiction and fantasy genres, and critics believe that this book is strong enough to warrant consideration for a Hugo. A cliffhanger ending almost certainly ensures another book in this remarkable cycle.
Copyright © 2004 Phillips & Nelson Media, Inc.

From Booklist

Paolina Barthes, raised in a village on the Wall in the middle of the Atlantic Ocean, wants to escape the small-minded confines of her elders. Thanks to a ship’s boy and the few books in town, she knows England rules much of the world and believes that there she’ll find wizards like Newton to teach her more of the world’s working. An arduous journey ensues, only to the conclusion that her genius is too great for the politics of England and the peril of secret societies wanting to harness her power. Meanwhile, the librarian Childress (from Lake’s Mainspring, 2007) is ordered aboard a ship that is attacked by the Chinese. By coincidence, she is the sole survivor and to survive takes on a high-ranking role among her captors. The other side of the Wall continues a point of contention, but fortunately for Paolina, not everyone is obsessed with power to the exclusion of all else. With its airships, submarines, world-spanning gears, and fantastic creatures, Lake’s clockwork world continues to be a fantastic place to visit. --Regina Schroeder
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Product Details

  • Series: Clockwork Earth (Book 2)
  • Hardcover: 384 pages
  • Publisher: Tor Books; First Edition edition (June 24, 2008)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0765317095
  • ISBN-13: 978-0765317094
  • Product Dimensions: 6.8 x 1.3 x 9.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.4 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 3.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (11 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #2,769,943 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By J. Cordes on September 25, 2008
Format: Hardcover
Escapement is a great book. All of the good parts of its predecessor Mainspring are present with none of the bad parts. Because of Mainspring, I picked up and started Escapement with caution and low expectations. Now that I'm done, I can't wait for the next book in the series. This is some tasty fantasy!

My only complaint would be that we only got a glimpse of the many exciting and interesting locations and people our protagonists encounter. Hopefully Jay is planning to make this a long series with many installments, because he's created a world that deserves and supports many more adventures.
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Format: Mass Market Paperback Verified Purchase
The book was at least 1/3rd too long. The story of Ms. Childress had very little to do with the resolution and while her adventures were mildly interesting they added nothing. Traveling around the world in a submarine might be interesting reading, but not here. The story of the girl who made the gleam was interesting while she was on the Wall, but her trip to Europe and Egypt could have been improved. I never had the feeling that the author had been to Europe or Egypt. The author enjoys throwing out inferences to shadow groups and conspiracies, but you have to do more than glimpse someone once in awhile having an obscure conversation. The story of the sailor was just repetitious, fight an overwhelming number of people, get wounded, wander on, fight an overwhelming number of people.
As for the resolution, it was rushed and unsatisfying. You never had the feeling that any of the three parts were in danger, so there was little suspense. I have spent hundreds of pages with these people and you want more than a page saying that she wandered off with a character who is minor if not completely unknown.
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Format: Mass Market Paperback
I bought this book hoping for a good science fiction read. Unfortunately Escapement wasn't what I was looking for. The story begins well but quickly fizzles out. I like the small community Jay Lake creates in the first few pages. This is largely what kept me reading on. I labored through this book in hopes that the story would get more interesting but it never did. If the story focused on the girl in the village and her journey, I would have enjoyed it more. But the author wastes alot of time on other characters that, in the end, don't matter. One of the storylines didn't have much of an impact on what I felt was the main storyline. Hundreds of pages were wasted on a woman sailing around on a Chinese submarine. Maybe her part of the story has more of an impact in the next book (which I will NOT read). Hundreds more pages were wasted on floating ships (the cover looks way cooler than the story actually is) and a giant drill.
I do have to say that Jay Lake is a good writer. He is very descriptive but not overly so. But this story is long and boring. It just wasn't that interesting to me. I doubt that I will every read another book by Jay Lake.
I finished this book as a matter of principle. If I buy a book, I will read it. From now on though, I will do some research first.
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Format: Hardcover
Escapement is a better book than its predecessor Mainspring because it explores its mechanically driven universe, evidenced by planets and moons driven by gears and clockworks, through the fascinating viewpoints of the three main characters with a richness of vision that is quite compelling.

Lake manages to create a world with mystery and mechanism, while exploring theology and human behavior, that promises the thrill of discovery that great sci-fi/fantasy delivers.

However, like Mainspring, which follows one character across a fascinating landscape only to descend into mysticism by its conclusion, Escapement offers loads of moral dilemmas and action by its ending without any more understanding of the fundamental workings of the universe that kept us reading all along.

Knowing that there must be another book to follow would have helped me to understand Escapement's place as a middle book in a trilogy. Now that you know, you may be able to enjoy even more than I did.
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Format: Hardcover
The only "Steam Punk" novel I've read was "The Difference Engine" but I found it intriguing. As I searched out more of the genre "Escapement" seemed to be at, or near, the top of the list. So I threw down me monies and tooks me chance. Not the best monies me ever spent.

This is by no means a bad book but far from a Hugo Award by my estimate. I do like the writing style. As with Gibson's and Sterling's "The Difference Engine" Jay Lake has the Dickensian style of patter down pretty well. He has a consistent voice and has created a nifty elsewhen and peppered it with some interesting characters. But there are some inherent problems as well.

You have three stories running simultaneously with three distinct characters. As others have pointed out, many pages have been spent on the Childress character and she has no real bearing on the outcome of things. On the other end, you are introduced to characters and situations early in the book who are later dropped, but who beg for a greater part in the proceedings.

Another problem I found was that some relatively heavy things happen during the story, but, even though we're told of the impact they have on the characters, we don't feel it. Some of the scenes should have been much more exciting to read given their content.

As I did a minor bit of research on Jay Lake, I found he's written a huge number of short stories and therein might lie the problem. He might need a bit more time to figure out how to use a larger canvas.

This is by no means a bad read. It just needs a bit of honing.
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