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Posted September 11, 2010
It just doesn't add up.
I spent probably a day figuring out what the book made me think of.Rider Haggard's King Solomon's Mines. Maybe I'm the only person who thinks this, it wouldn't surprise me, but the style of writing sound similar in my head.
The Setting -- is a vivid version of Earth that is wound upon gears and cogs and springs. God crafted the earth to be a thing of machinery covered over by earth and living creatures. Along the equator stretches an almost insurpasable Wall. To the north is the civilized world; a place not too unfamiliar to you or I - though in the time of Queen Victoria things are changed. There are automatons, things are mechanized, and the tolling of the earth's passage is sounded by the nightly orbit of the earth on her spindle as she travels on - literally - a track through the stary sky. To the south of the Wall is a wondrous world of other creations; things from our imaginations made into reality that follow natural selection and God's order - but do not always acknowledge the Creator's dominance.
The Characters -- felt a little one dimensional and flat to me. The main character, Hethor, I am sympathetic towards. He's a young man who has an angelic visitation and is shoved down a path he's not ready for. The antagonists seem hard to believe. There is one Big Baddie, who just lacks menace. I know Hethor is set on a path to do something and that is the story, but his enemies are just too convenient and too easily dispelled for my tastes. The love interest, an ape woman named Arellya, was cute and I liked her. I think the only reason I liked her was because she didn't worry too much, took charge when she needed to, and had her own type of independent thought.
The Plot -- was to wind the Mainspring. That's it. Yes, Hethor is pushed down a path to do things, but events happen to him. The story feels as if it doesn't matter what Hethor would have willingly done, the story would have happened to him regardless, thus eliminating the characters free will and making the story inevitable. The religion in the book is a steampunk Christendom, and heavily influences the way the characters act. The romance arc didn't read well to me because I'm not sure if I ever got over the fact of Arellya's people being mostly ape like. I wonder if a sixteen year old boy would really have acted the way Hethor did in these situations. At times pieces of the plot just magically fell into place. Magic! Hethor can do Magic! The tablet! It's like a bad boomerang that Hethor cannot get rid of.
I know my review is scathing. I know I'm probably nitpicking over things that most people will just read and accept as how the world and story unfold. It is a good book, very well written. The world fascinates me, but the characters lost me and I rely heavily on liking and believing the characters in a story to buy into the plot. I probably will not read the subsequent books.
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Posted November 30, 2010
Lake's clockwork universe is an interesting and original concept, and there are many arresting images in this story. However, I felt it was sadly lacking in plot coherence and character development.
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