Escapement follows three separate but intertwined storylines of Paulina, a village girl with great powers; al-Wazir, a British aerostat officer; and Childress, a librarian turned secret-order diplomat. They make their way either by foot, airship or by boat across a strange version of Earth.
An Earth where a giant 100-mile thick wall divides the Northern and Southern Hemispheres and the Moon and planets travel along visible clockwork tracks.
What’s good about the story
The character of Paolina is the only storyline that has any intrigue. Al-Wazir adds little to the story and Childress adds absolutely nothing.
Poalina has the ability to create little mechanical watch-type objects called gleams, which allow her to control the world around her. This is by far the most interesting concept in the story and it is unfortunate it doesn’t come to light until late in the story. As Paolina travels she has to call on this ability often with deadly effect. She could be called a mechnopath, someone who can manipulate the mechanical with the mind.
A literal clockwork world where the planets travel on tracks and a giant wall spans the equator adds to the intrigue. The rest of the world is a little boring. There is a clockwork man city along the wall, and a giant fish king town, but too much of the world seems to be grounded in mundane reality.
This story borders on boring. Airship and submarine journeys make for boring storytelling and this story is full of them.
Even though the story has moments of great imagination, like al-Wazir and Boaz (The Automaton) battling a fish king, it only makes up a small portion of the story.
Escapement is written as the second book in a trilogy were nothing is resolved and the characters are brought to their darkest points. Unfortunately, the journey to get to this dark point is uneventful.
The story leaves off as Paolina crosses to the Southern Hemisphere and encounters a brass angel. This is the most intriguing part of the book and forces the reader to read the next book in the series, Pinion.
This story is part of the archive of Steampunk Books, Kevin Steele’s website of hackneyed steampunk book reviews and lists (2016-20). Click here for the full archive.