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Green Hardcover – June 9, 2009

3.2 out of 5 stars 58 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Lake (Escapement) makes a shift from steampunk to lush fantasy filled with exotic locales and exquisite descriptions. Sold as a child, raised and educated as a courtesan and secretly trained as an assassin, strong-willed Green retains her unyielding sense of independence, leading her to make drastic, unwise choices. Often used as a pawn and occasionally betrayed, she perseveres in trying to gain a measure of control over her life and a place to call home. Her goals become harder to reach when she's caught up in the machinations of immortals and power games of meddling gods. Despite an occasionally episodic feel and some rocky pacing that suggests it might have worked better split over several installments, the story is nicely powered by strong mythic undertones and a fresh take on the relationship between gods and mortals. (June)
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.

Review

Praise for Escapement:

"Lively and thought-provoking...Lake effectively anneals steampunk with geo-mechanical magic in an allegorical matrix of empire building and Victorian natural science."--Publishers Weekly (starred review)

"Lake has configured his world-dominating empires, one British, the other Chinese, with huge and devoted attention to the last detail."--John Clute, Washington Post Book World

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The latest book club pick from Oprah
"The Underground Railroad" by Colson Whitehead is a magnificent novel chronicling a young slave's adventures as she makes a desperate bid for freedom in the antebellum South. See more

Product Details

  • Hardcover: 368 pages
  • Publisher: Tor Books; F First Edition edition (June 9, 2009)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0765321858
  • ISBN-13: 978-0765321855
  • Product Dimensions: 6.4 x 1.2 x 9.5 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.3 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 3.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (58 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,895,511 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Hardcover
This book is a three part story that tells the story of a girl sold in to slavery at a very young age, trained to be a concubine, only to escape and take and become a powerful assassin. That's only part of the story though, as a major part of the story in this book is actually the gods of her world, and their power struggles and manipulation of humanity. The story told at the books core is actually pretty sound and interesting, unfortunately it's constantly at odds with Greens more personal story, which is often weird and seems to consist of little more than pointless exhibition.

The first part is great. We live through this girls "training" to essentially become a wife so she can be married off in high society to primarily benefit her "factor", or owner. This first part is great, though brutal as one can imagine such "training" would be. It suffers somewhat from some pacing problems as it gets a tad redundant at times, but it's otherwise quite interesting. The part that makes it the most interesting is where the author is going with it, and how our main character is going to use this training to her advantage, since it's clear cooperation is not in her nature. The gods at work in the world are also hinted at points in this section, though this is left a bit vague yet.

Unfortunately the first part ends, and things start to go south in the second section, and on in to the third. The plotline with the gods and the cultures becomes more prevalent in the second part, and takes on an even bigger role in the third part. This part of the story is sound and well told, and I found it to be quite interesting as well.
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Format: Hardcover
I am a very fast reader so it's unusual for me not to finish a book. It's even more unusual for me to get about 70% of the way through a book and then decide it's just not worth finishing. That's what happened with this book, and having committed so much time and energy to reading as much of it as I did I feel a review is justified.

Green starts off promisingly - a young girl from a poor family in the tropics is sold and taken far away to a city in colder climes, ruled by an immortal Duke. There she is kept in a court, alone except for her female teachers. She is to be turned into a 'great lady' - one of many such in training funded by the Duke. The training is extensive and harsh and most of her teachers are petty and abusive. She learns cookery, sewing, dancing, riding, calligraphy etc but is kept ignorant of the current political system/ruler/situtation. Anything to do with her past is forbidden including her name. She is called simply "Girl". Her only respite from her strict schedule are her sessions with the inaccurately named Dancing Mistress. The style is slow and dream-like, with hints that Girl will not be so easily moulded.

This all seems very promising, if a bit mystifying. It didn't really make sense to me that anyone would spend so much money and time (approx. 10 years) excessively training a girl to be some kind of mistress/wife/courtesan - and not just one girl but many (although they are all kept equally isolated in their own ridiculously resource-intensive courts). The pacing is quite slow throughout this part of the book with very little action. I was hoping it would be worth it when we got to see Girl being kick-ass at political maneuvering and saving future such girls or something of that nature.
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Format: Hardcover
In my defense, the cover is kind of cool, and green is one of my favorite colors. The ridiculously [...] anecdote was obscured by the library code, so I would have put the book back on the shelf if only for that-- "Her exquisite beauty and brilliant mind were not enough to free her from captivity. That took the power of a goddess... and her skill with a knife." PLEASE.

Anyway, it's a story about a little girl from an impoverished farm country (with incredibly inconsistent topography and environment, let me tell you) who is bought by a man referred to as having skin the color of maggots. APPARENTLY, in her miserable country, there is nothing white to which she can compare this man but maggots? Are there not clouds? Nor froth nor snow nor ice or stars that are white?

In case you're wondering, yes, the cover is totally inaccurate. Green, the ~beautiful assassin~ is actually dark-skinned. It's pounded into your brain constantly. Exoticism at its best. Or worst, as you'll soon learn...

...Green is swept away to some foreign country full of ~maggot people~ and is trained to be a courtesan and completely holed away from any men except for Federo, the maggot man. He's referred to alternatively as a fop and a dandy-- for the record, that's offensive to both parties. Fops and dandies are NOT the same thing, Mr Lake. I know you were skirting around calling him gay, but really? Get your ostentatious socialites straight. (Oh-ho, a double entendre! I wasn't even trying!)

Anyway, so eventually she learns about ~sex~ and how she's expected to be compliant and please whatever man she's with without any regard to her own pleasure.

Why, yes! This IS written by a man! BUT IT GETS BETTER OR WORSE, DEPENDING ON HOW YOU LOOK AT IT.
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