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Escapement (Clockwork Earth #2)

3.65  ·  Rating Details ·  463 Ratings  ·  50 Reviews
In his 2007 novel Mainspring, Lake created an enormous canvas for storytelling with his 100 mile high Equatorial Wall that holds up the great Gears of the Earth.Now in Escapement, he explores more of that territory.

Paolina Barthes is a young woman of remarkable intellectual ability – a genius on the level of Isaac Newton.But she has grown up in isolation, in a small villag
Paperback, 480 pages
Published March 3rd 2009 by Tor Science Fiction (first published 2007)
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Richard Derus
Jul 13, 2013 Richard Derus rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Continuing the Jay Lake Pre-Mortem Read-a-thon of his novels, this week's entry at Shelf Inflicted, a group blog, is ESCAPEMENT. 4.4 stars...some serious Lake-blaspheming...steampunk airship-vs-submarine translocational mystic-tech!

Really, can you resist reading more? I don't think so!
Ben Babcock
It's very rare that I wish I had started a series with the second book instead of the first, but that's what I wish about Jay Lake's Clockworth Earth trilogy. I had some serious reservations about Mainspring. Its sequel, Escapement, might be an interesting example of how to avoid the dreaded "middle book syndrome" that afflicts so many trilogies. Categorically superior, Escapement is the maturation of the fantastic premise Lake began in Mainspring, without the insufferable protagonist and his va ...more
Nicholas Karpuk
Jul 10, 2010 Nicholas Karpuk rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: surrendered
"Every character should want something, even if it is only a glass of water." - Kurt Vonnegut

Jay Lake has many good qualities as an author. He created a very compelling world with Mainspring, a world built of gears from the ground up. His fluid writing style helps propel you through this world faster than your disbelief can keep up.

The second book started out promising. His weak link in the first book had been a protagonist who had nothing to recommend himself. The generic young man who had sur
[deep breath ... and ... sigh ...:] I was really expecting to enjoy this book since I had thoroughly enjoyed Mainspring. Instead I found myself disappointed.

In the interest of full disclosure, let me state that I only made it 80 pages in before I decided to return Escapement to the library. And the tough thing is I'm not really sure I can articulate why this book didn't do it for me.

I suppose my primary disappointment is the characters were too obvious, their actions too predictable. This is an
Jan 08, 2016 Ian rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition

I have not read Lake's first book in this steampunk setting, Mainspring, but this one is quite good. The world building and character development are top notch. The setting is bizarre but finely textured, a place made real by the imagination. The characters are engaging and believable. The dialogue has an unfortunate tendency to end up in false profundity, but at least Lake is using dialogue to dramatize conflict. I also think the plotting is good on a small scale, with lots of intense conflict

Sep 30, 2010 Amanda rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: steampunk
Enjoyed this a lot more than Mainspring. Jay Lake's world becomes much richer with further exploration. Can't wait to read Pinion.
Dec 28, 2015 Katerine rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Joe Informatico
In many ways, Escapement is a better book than its predecessor, Mainspring. Mainspring focused on the protagonist Hethor, who is the type of messianic hero common to this type of fantasy/sf bildungsroman: a socially isolated but intelligent young man who is thrust into a mission to save the world. He of course, does so, in the process earning the four essential marks of manhood: self-reliance, authority over others, physical prowess, and sexual experience. The setting in Mainspring was brilliant ...more
Graham Crawford
Most readers would agree that this second book in the series is a vast improvement on the first. Jay Lake is better known as a short story writer and the long-form first person narrative in "Mainspring" really exposed his weaknesses in technique. The switch to rapidly alternating points of view from three protagonists (and their companions) starts to play to his strengths.

I am guessing he's had some long conversations with fans after the first book was published because their are a lot of plot h
Nov 14, 2011 Pepper rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Steampunk enthusiasts, Adventure lovers
Escapement, by Jay Lake. 3 Stars out of 5. A novel set in a SteamPunk universe where the world is hollow and filled with gears, and a giant Wall dividing the world is guarded by mechanical Brass Men. This is the sequel to Mainspring (maybe, it’s hard to tell if it’s actually a sequel). The story follows a young girl from a tiny fishing village who wants to see more of the world, and as fate would have it, is compelled to do just that. Soon into her journey, she learns of the great mechanical pro ...more
I’m torn about what to say here. On one hand, I enjoyed the book and the world we are seeing born here is pretty marvelous… but at the same time, throughout the course of my reading I kept wondering where the book was.

By that I mean… in most books there is a sense of “this is where this book is going”, but I didn’t get any of that here. We have three characters moving about independently (and eventually intersecting, of course), but none of them have clear goals. I mean, some of them want to “ge
Martin Clark
Jul 31, 2012 Martin Clark rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
The second of the Clockwork Earth trilogy and I enjoyed it as much as the first, although I found it quite different in some ways. The whole idea of the Earth as a part of a clockwork universe, with a miles high wall at the equator topped with copper teeth that mesh with the huge copper track on which it turns around the Sun, is still fascinating. And I like the liberal mix of magic, monsters, science and the inexplicable which populates the world.

Strangely, in this book, there doesn't seem to b
Soh Kam Yung
This novel is set in the same universe as "Mainspring" which features an Earth powered by a mainspring as it circles the sun on a huge brass gear on the equator. There are three main characters in the novel: one is obsessed with measuring and discoverers that she has a rare and powerful gift: a gift that could be used to reshape the world. The second is tasked with a huge engineering project: to drill through the Equatorial wall (on which the brass gear is set) separating Northern and Southern E ...more
Rob Darnell
Feb 26, 2015 Rob Darnell rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
In Jay Lake‘s Escapement Paolina Barthes is a girl of fifteen born and raised in Praia Nova, a small coastal village in the shadows a Muralha, or the Wall. Women in Poalina’s village never amount to much in the world where men see themselves as superior to women. But Paolina is an exception. She has a gift unlike any other. Not only does she understand machinery to the degree that she can repair things that her village depends on, she also figures out how to invent something more powerful than a ...more
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 cr

Nov 15, 2009 Mike rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: Anyone
The second installment in the clockwork universe introduced in Mainspring. An interesting change in focus and viewpoint for the second novel in this series. More "steampunk" technology, but, like the first book, not constrained by it. Instead it is used to set a tone and provide background for the tale. And it's another grand tale of personal tribulations and effort. The arduous tasks set before the characters lead to their development and maturation. It contains flashes of true creativity along ...more
Sep 26, 2010 Kevin rated it liked it
Like the first book, has an extremely interesting steampunk setting, unfortunatly the plot just doesn't quite live up to its potential. I really liked the way this book connected from the preveous one, with minor characters and events in that book becoming much more prominent. This also seeems to have a nicely wider scope. The problem is that some of the events feel contrived, and I just couldn't buy the choices that some of the characters made. But, I will read the next one, primarily to see wh ...more
This is a slow-starting book that borrows a bit from the Majipoor Chronicles (road trip writ large), picks up a few phrases from pop culture (hello Firelfy), throws in some religious mumbo-jumbo, and rolls it all up in a steampunk vehicle. There's no real plot resolution at the end: this is very clearly book #2 of some number that will actually tell the story. I'm not sure whether it's motivated me to read book#1 or not. I suppose if I stumble on it and have nothing else pending, I might read it ...more
Margaret Fisk
Jul 08, 2015 Margaret Fisk rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Escapement by Jay Lake is a wonderful Steampunk alternate history novel that manages to carry off a plot despite a good number of point of view characters, who spend most of the book apart from each other, and a surreal writing style. I was delighted to learn (when I went to Jay’s reading at World Fantasy) that Escapement is actually the second book set in that world. I immediately picked up a copy of Mainspring and am looking forward to reading it.
Josie Boyce
Jun 18, 2014 Josie Boyce rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Another solid adventure tale in what is possibly the most clockwork, and least steampunk clockwork world in sci fi. This one has more nareators, more heroes, more villains. Great stuff. Ripping tale, with the most self possessed stubborn young girl ever conceived in the young Paolina Barthes. One of my favourite characters in a book full of great characterization. Highly recommend this book, diving into the next one asap as i am.
Karen Ireland-Phillips
I’m going to come back to this after I read Mainspring, because I felt like I was missing something about this universe. In the meantime I’ll say that it just didn’t seem like my cup of tea, although I appreciated the high quality of the writing. NB: I’m a total fan of the author, avidly follow his blog, am highly jealous of his amazing productivity, and admire and respect his strength during his recurring struggles with cancer.
Jackie Gamber
Stash’s Fusion tea of a green and white blend is, at first glance, a tea of familiar elements. And yet their combination masterfully creates an entirely new flavor experience, unique unto itself. It is the taste expression of Jay Lake’s novel Escapement; a story of familiar elements masterfully combined—fused—into an entirely new world.

For my entire BookTasting of "Escapement" please read here:
Ryan McArthur
Sep 25, 2011 Ryan McArthur rated it really liked it
Shelves: steampunk
I liked it. Being able to see "god's hand in creation" is quite cool, and its interesting that the Chinese and Europeans would still come to different conclusions.
I haven't read the first one, but I get the impression that the characters cross over. I'm quite keen to read the next one. In some ways it felt like the difficult middle novl in a trilogy, in some ways like back to the future 2, to join the start and end together, with no real ending itself.
This revisits the world Lake created in Mainspring. I think he made a good choice to continue the story as a battle between the White Birds and the Silent Order, rather than a continuation of the story of the main character of Mainspring. A vividly imagined world, I definitely felt as if this was the start of a series, unlike Mainspring, which felt self contained. I will read the next books as well, but will likely take a little time before going back to this series.
May 06, 2010 Glen rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Escapement was much better than Mainspring - I think this was mostly due to the format. This time I read it in hardback, which has been interesting as I've had to carry it all over Afghanistan. The first book was in audio format and I'm convinced now that the voice actor was what kept me from really enjoying it.

I also liked the protagonist in this one (Paolina), but I'm partial to strong, intelligent women.

Overall a much more satisfying read than the listen for the previous book.

Cecilia Rodriguez
Lake is inspired by L. Frank Baum, especially Dorothy. The plot also has a Jules Vern influence: Journey to the Center of the Earth.
The story is told from three different points of view: Paola Barthes, Emily Childress, and Threadgill Angus Al-wazir.
While reading the story, I thought of the actual history of Africa, especially Rhodesia and the exploitation of British Imperialism.
Lake's story is not comfortable, it ask the reader to think.
Aug 29, 2009 John rated it liked it
Lake posits a very different world, one with brassworks in the sky and a massive wall cutting the world in half, populated by fantastic creatures and metal men. There are some cool ideas, and the writing is solid, but there is too much left unexplained and unexplored and he tries to bring several plot threads together in a forced manner. The characters are compelling but also not fully developed. A fun read but one that leaves you wishing for more than you got.
Dec 27, 2009 Rm rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
A very strange book, wherein the world is divided between North and South by a giant range of mountains, called The Wall. The world is also run by an elaborate system of clockwork brass devices. I think the book is a sequel to an earlier book, because I am a bit baffled by some of the references, which are clearly meant to be understood by readers of a previous text -- but for pure, and very clever, diversion, this is a great read.
The steampunk story of a young girl looking for guidance in a world that reflects an alternate possibility of the Imperialist days of Britain. The world itself is the mechanical creation of God and is split in two by a giant wall, it contains brass men, airships, Chinese submarines, secret societies and monstrous gods. Good premise, but finishes a little weak with many plots not properly wrapped up.
Apr 05, 2014 Jim rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fantasy
Jay Lake does an exemplary job returning to the clockwork world of Mainspring. This sequel expands the mythos and provides stronger protagonists and elevates some of the more interesting supporting characters from the initial novel in the series. This is stronger novel, and the reader is drawn in to caring more for the characters.
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Jay Lake lived in Portland, Oregon, where he worked on multiple writing and editing projects. His 2007 book Mainspring received a starred review in Booklist. His short fiction appeared regularly in literary and genre markets worldwide. Jay won the John W. Campbell Award for Best New Writer, Endeavour Award, and was a multiple nominee for the Hugo and World Fantasy Awards.
More about Jay Lake...

Other Books in the Series

Clockwork Earth (3 books)
  • Mainspring (Clockwork Earth #1)
  • Pinion (Clockwork Earth #3)

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