Author: Jay Lake
Was it interesting? It was.
Well-written? It was significantly better than the first book.
Would I read it again? I would, after I've read all the other things I have to read.
Would I read a sequel/further adventures/etc? Yes.
Keep or give away? Errrrm....The Grace A Dow Memorial Library in Midland wanted it back a bit ago. Sorry, lending library.
So I originally set out to read Jay Lake's clockwork series because I had read a book of his a while back in which he had said that he wanted to write out of his comfort zone. So I looked up what Jay Lake was noted for and the internets said to check out the Mainspring universe. I did and I was not completely thrilled with book 1 (Mainspring). It's an early work (his...second according to Wikipedia) and while I liked the general framework of the story quite a bit, the actual nuts and bolts could have been better. I decided to get book 2 (Escapement) and read it in hopes that a little more novel writing under Lake's belt might make an improvement.
It did. Escapement takes place roughly two years after Hathor and his travels and begins with Paolina, a girl who can sense the turn of things in the universe. She's brilliant with mechanical devices but she comes from a culture which is incredibly male centric so she can not explore her gifts as she would like. Paolina is quite irritated by this so she sets out to go to England to learn from their wizards.
Meanwhile Librarian Childress, who set Hathor on his path, discovers that her actions have put her secret group at odds with another secret group. Her secret group decides to sacrifice Librarian Childress "for the greater good" but a mix-up in the process finds Childress stepping into the role of spy and being spirited away to China on a submarine.
And then there is Al-Wazir from the ill fated air ship Bassett of Mainspring. He survives and eventually makes his way back to England from the wall only to be drafted to go back; but this time to help lead the project to tunnel under the wall.
The three story arcs mesh their way around the northern hemisphere nicely; sometimes meeting up and then separating. Each story has its own plot and problems as well so every time you switch perspective there is something new and interesting to read. I'm not even bothered that Escapement has a bit of "middle book syndrome" (Paolina is left with an epilogue which makes me itch to get my hands on book 3, Boaz - a character introduced somewhere in the first third of the book - has some of his storyline which I would love to see finished, and although Al-Wazir, Childress and the submarine captain could very well end their story with Escapement, I kinda hope they do not).
I also really liked the character development in Escapement; all the characters seemed more real than the Mainspring cast and I am looking forward to reading the next book to see what happens. The workings of the world aren't as confusing (except I suddenly realized that the Earth travels on the outside of its ring rather than the inside so I am uncertain how it doesn't just fly off into space. Then again, I just figured out how the moon is attached so yay?) and I think Paolina's powers are handled really well.
Lastly, I have discovered a drawback to library books; I did not have Mainspring on hand to reference Al-Wazir's history with the air ship. I didn't remember it too particularly and as I was reading Escapement I thought "Man, if I had Mainspring I'd totally go look up and reread the parts about the air ship." Alas. Perhaps I will just buy the set so I can eventually reread Escapement, refer to parts in Mainspring and have Pinion to read. Because I'm expecting Book 3 to be AWESOME!