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The Escapement

4.24  ·  Rating details ·  37 ratings  ·  31 reviews
Into the Escapement rides the Stranger, a lone gunman on a quest to rescue his son in a strange parallel reality. But it is easy to lose one’s way on an endlessly shifting, unpredictable landscape. Especially in a place full of dangerous mirror-images of a child's beloved things: lawless heroes, giants made of stone, downtrodden clowns, spectacular symbol storms, and an en ...more
Paperback, 256 pages
Published September 21st 2021 by Tachyon Publications
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Average rating 4.24  · 
Rating details
 ·  37 ratings  ·  31 reviews

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Jun 25, 2021 rated it it was amazing
"At night, hospitals feel like shadowy, desert wastelands inhabited mostly by this twilight empty world the man walked, his feet treading the parquet floor. They made a little squeaking a clown." He remembers taking his son to the circus, buying him a red balloon. The boy in the hospital bed is sleeping with his stuffed toy clown.

The Stranger had been traveling a long time, on a quest to find Ur-Shanabi, the Flower of Heartbeat, found in the Mountains of Darkness. Havi
Jun 21, 2021 rated it it was amazing
For such a short read, this highly intellectual bizarro western packs one hell of a wallop.

On one hand, it's merely the depths that a man will go through as he watches his child suffer in the hospital, but on the other, greater portion, it's literally a Dark Tower-like adventure with truly gorgeous detailed oddities everywhere.

The Stranger is one of the high arcana, and there are lots of tarot references with a full spread of Grimm, Russian mythology, Hebrew mythology, Greek, Mesopotamian, and S
Shirin Tondkar
Aug 19, 2021 rated it really liked it
“Stories. Stories are all we have, really, in this world or the other.”

The Escapement by Lavie Tidhar was a fantasy story set in an American western. The writing style was different and magical which suit to the narrative. The characters and the new circus world were well-drawn. A heartbreaking story with humor and adventure that was dark for me.

In the Country of Clowns,
The Kid and the Stranger exchanged a glance,
The Stranger and the Conjurer exchanged a glance.

The Stranger looking for the Ur-sh
Christina Pilkington
Sep 21, 2021 rated it really liked it
Like Central Station, Tidhar brings his imagination and gorgeously intelligent writing to his newest novel, The Escapement.

While I found myself a bit lost at times in the complex plot, I was blown away by the level of depth and intricacy of the world building. Tidhar's world building shines in a way unlike any author I have ever read. From wanderings in clown country to references from Hebrew and Russian mythology, and even the Wizard of Oz, The Escapement is the story of a man grieving a termin
Jul 10, 2021 rated it liked it
The Escapement is a wild read that has a futurist sort of dystopian fantasy setting like Tigana but is populated with people in a time slippage between parallel worlds. The characters include archetypes from gunslinging westerns, tarot, circus, and myths of the ancient gods. If you like to immerse in that sort of world building it is an incredible story of a man at his hospitalized child’s bedside and another world just beyond.

I received an advanced reader copy of the The Escapement from Netgall
Jun 06, 2021 rated it it was amazing
Absolutely fantastic. The coolest, strangest, most hallucinatory vision of the American western I've ever seen. More to follow, but in the interim, I cannot recommend this book highly enough. (trigger warning-clowns) ...more
Paul Goat
May 18, 2021 rated it it was amazing
Although Tidhar is renowned for such creative masterworks like Central Station (2016) and Unholy Land (2018), his latest novel—about a man’s phantasmagorical quest through a Sergio Leone-esque wasteland inhabited by gunslingers, magicians, carnies, and clowns—is arguably his most ambitious, and cerebral, work to date.

The Escapement is a unique blend of western, surrealistic fantasy, and Hebrew folklore—a brilliantly multi-colored narrative tapestry of ideas and imagery that features a stunningl
Kimberly Ouwerkerk
May 30, 2021 rated it it was ok
In The Escapement, a father with a sick child becomes the Stranger in a parallel reality. The Escapement reminds him of that time he took his child to see the clowns. And just like in the real world, not everyone likes clowns….

Escaping reality
The Stranger tries to escape reality as the health of his terminally ill child deteriorates. The places he encounters on his journey resemble the phases he goes through while dealing with his son’s illness. The connections to The Waiting Place and The Hole
Jul 26, 2021 rated it it was amazing
Series Info/Source: This is a stand alone book. I got an eGalley of this through NetGalley to review.

Thoughts: I really loved this book, although it won't be for everyone. Previous to this I read Tidhar’s Bookman Histories and really enjoyed them. The story mainly follows a character called The Stranger who falls back and forth between our world and a circus-like world whose natural inhabitants are different types of clowns. In our world he is a father sitting beside the bed of his dying child a
Jul 14, 2021 added it
Thank you Netgalley for sending me a copy of this to review. I only got about 10% of the way through. The writing style just didn’t working for me and I didn’t like the way the author set up the story. I thought it was very disjointed and it didn’t flow well.
Jun 26, 2021 rated it it was amazing
This is a stunning novel of grief and escape and pain and imagination, and I'm recommending it to everyone. Where do realities end and begin, and how do parents cope with the loss of children? Where and how does one become a vigilante, or become resigned to events they cannot control? This novel dives deep into these questions, offering incredible sequences and plotlines of metaphor and diversion and emotion. ...more
Chelsea (A.G.)
May 09, 2021 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: edelweiss
I don't usually read fantasy and I haven't read anything from Lavie Tidhar before so this is an interesting introduction for me. I wasn't totally excited when I realized clowns were going to be a huge part of the story but wanted to give it fair chance beyond my discomfort.

The description is very detailed without feeling overwhelming. The world-building alone paints a vivid environment. In fact, two environments that we see the father traverse into to search for an item that could save his sick
Aug 08, 2021 rated it really liked it
A man journeys through a parallel world, filled with a dangerous circus themed society and gods who are always at war, to find a cure for his sick son.

This is was good book, very engaging and interesting. The world building was amazing and it's rare that such a different world can feel so realistic and grounded.

If someone wants to explain the ending to me, pretty please. I feel like I know what it means, but I'd love to hear other interpretations.
Amanda Karsh
Jun 15, 2021 rated it really liked it
Weirdest world I have ever read. Very disjointed. Pace and action feels close to the Dark Tower, characters are more Carnivale. I would have loved a bit more intro into this world from the beginning, I had to google clowns.
May 29, 2021 rated it it was amazing
This has to be read to be appreciated. No review could do it justice. It caught my eye, as I am a fan of all things circus/carnival related. I got so much more than I had hoped for. Dark, sad, beautifully written and full of references (subtle and not so subtle) that will make you smile when you catch them. Elements of this story have been pulled from sources far and wide, but they come together uniquely to create a world worth escaping to...and from.
Ames Richmond
Jun 17, 2021 rated it liked it
*I was kindly gifted a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review via NetGalley*

Overall this is a 3-3.5 Star read for me.
Trigger warnings: a lot of violence, grief, familial loss, trauma.

I was initially drawn in by the beautiful cover and the premise sounded really cool. But it fell short on several counts for me.

The plot outline is really intriguing - a man (the Stranger) paves his way through two worlds trying to find a cure for his dying son. It deals a lot with the trauma of the Stra
Jan 24, 2021 rated it really liked it
This upcoming book is a dual world story where a desperate father seeks a cure for his dying son. He crosses over to another world, one that may or may not be in his son's imagination because there are clowns and cowboys, and circus performers and balloons--all the things that he and his son shared.

The father must find a certain flower with the ability to heal what ails his son.

The Escapement is a typical Tidhar novel, but this one is creative in its world-building that is unlike this other book
Aug 26, 2021 rated it really liked it
Reseña en:

Lavie Tidhar es un autor que siempre está buscando sorprender. En la búsqueda de contar historias distintas a lo que la mayoría de las novedades nos ofrecen su propuesta varía desde historias de género negro, ciencia ficción con puro sentido de la maravilla o ficciones históricas, entre otros muchos temas. En este caso no podía ser menos. Su nueva novela es una especie de western protagonizado por un padre que vela por su hijo en una habitación
Aug 13, 2021 rated it liked it
A very difficult work to categorize neatly, but a definite interesting one to experience.

I have received this book in exchange of an honest review, thank you to NetGalley and Tachyon Publications for the opportunity.

I have my own blog now, so please do give it a visit if you're interested in my other reviews :)


I'm having a bit of difficulty trying to talk about this book, or more accurately, novella and I do believe that it comes down to the amount of things happening in it d
Pile By the Bed
Jul 23, 2021 rated it it was amazing
In his latest book, The Escapement, Lavie Tidhar shows his capacity to keep readers guessing. He has done alternate history and the multiverse (Unholy Land), science fiction (Central Station) and most recently a wild retelling of the Arthurian myth (By Force Alone). The Escapement is both easy and difficult to describe – it is a new weird Western, set in a shadow world or our own, but is also a story of love and loss and dealing with grief.
The Escapement has a double opening. The first is a man
John Folk-Williams
Aug 09, 2021 rated it it was amazing
Lavie Tidhar’s The Escapement starts quietly enough: A man who has been sitting with his very ill son in a hospital room steps out for some fresh air and notices a small red flower by the sidewalk. Then we see that flower through the eyes of the Stranger in a surreal, barren landscape. We are off on a brilliant and unpredictable tour of a world only Tidhar could imagine. With his six-shooters, the Stranger rides his horse on a quest for a healing flower. This novel is a strange mix of darkly com ...more
Joe Karpierz
Aug 26, 2021 rated it it was amazing
THE ESCAPEMENT, by Lavie Tidhar, is quite possibly the weirdest book I have ever read. And no, I'm not saying it as if it's a bad thing. It just, well, is.

I was going to try to be be clever, using a dictionary definition of the word "escapement" to help describe the book. The website has 5 definitions of the word escapement, none of which (for me) accurately describe the book. The website wasn't much better. It gave 8 synonyms for the word escapement, but I wasn't sa
Sep 05, 2021 rated it it was amazing
“The Stranger had been travelling for a long time, searching for the Flower of Heartbeat, and he was destined to travel for a long time more.”

The description can tell you only so much. The Stranger travels with his rifle through unpredictable land of Escapement, to find the Flower of Heartbeat. The man tries to cope with the dying of his little son.

I don´t think I´ve read so complex book since last year´s Driftwood by Marie Brennan (which was also amazing). From practically first paragraph you
Jim Andrew Clark
Jul 23, 2021 rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: fans of Stephen King's Dark Tower series
The Escapement is a brilliantly strange story that takes all matter of tropes and mythologies, sticks them in a blender, and serves them up beautifully.

The main character is The Stranger, a nameless man who slips in between two worlds. One world is the 'normal' reality where he sits at his dying son's bedside. The other is the Escapement, an alternate 'old west' setting where circus clowns are analogous to Native Americans, storms are created by dueling old gods, and the overall vibe is a cross
Aug 30, 2021 rated it it was ok
It takes a lot of fine control and careful planning to write a story that successfully moves between some sort of magical realism (or surrealism) and a much grimmer realist novel but everyone since Pan’s Labyrinth has been trying it anyway with mixed results. This novel just tries to shove about a dozen cultural and literally tropes into one psychic escape (very subtly called The Escapement) and romps us through it. It’s giving us Gilgamesh! It’s giving us Spaghetti Western! It’s giving us the c ...more
Ryan Johnson
Sep 19, 2021 rated it it was amazing
When's the last time you've read a dark fantasy western featuring feral clowns? Yeah, well, when's the last time a dark fantasy western featuring feral clowns made your CRY? Lavie Tidhar's "The Escapement" is a wildly unique, original take on the hero's journey, and though some of its ideas may be a tad under-baked, the world-building alone is worth the price of admission. Also, unlike many novels with such bizarre concepts/worlds, there's beating heart beneath the weirdness, which had my in tea ...more
Aamna - The Ink Slinger
Jul 21, 2021 rated it really liked it
If you're a fan of a bizarre fantasy world, absurdist stories, or even magical realism, I think this book is perfect for you.

It follows the story of this man whose son is really sick and hospitalized and someone tells him to find the Ur-Shanabi, the Flower of Heartbeat, as that might be the only way to save his son.
We follow the same character in the two different worlds- one, the real-world history of the world called the Escapement.
So in the Escapement, the Flower of Heartbeat is a thing tha
Aug 16, 2021 rated it it was amazing
The Escapement est un roman de Lavie Tidhar, dans lequel l’auteur mêle Weird Fiction, western, Fantasy, et univers juxtaposés. Il met en scène la quête d’un père au chevet de son fils atteint d’une maladie cardiaque, qui évolue sous les traits du Stranger dans le monde surnaturel de l’Escapement, dans lequel il recherche Ur-Shanabi, une fleur qui pourrait guérir son enfant.
Ce monde, peu à peu colonisé par les humains, comporte des créatures surnaturelles telles que des clowns, les Arcanes Majeur
Short and Sweet Reviews by Sam
Sep 18, 2021 rated it really liked it
Thank you to the author and Netgalley for providing a copy. I have reviewed honestly.

The Escapement is an intricate tale woven with creative threads and a captivating tale. The world building was spectacular, descriptive and unique. The characters we meet along the journey are quirky and spectacular in their singularities.

Overall, this novel was well written with themes that drew me in and ensared me from start to finish.
Sep 03, 2021 rated it liked it
Well written, easy to read story about the intersection of a magical land, real life and many strange dimensions. Life-threatening clowns and mimes live here as well.
No plot, no character development just really strange world being. Very visual and feels like a Salvador Dali painting with Dark Tower overtones.
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Lavie Tidhar was raised on a kibbutz in Israel. He has travelled extensively since he was a teenager, living in South Africa, the UK, Laos, and the small island nation of Vanuatu.

Tidhar began publishing with a poetry collection in Hebrew in 1998, but soon moved to fiction, becoming a prolific author of short stories early in the 21st century.

Temporal Spiders, Spatial Webs won the 2003 Clarke-Bradb

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