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Friday, January 20, 2012

Mainspring by Jay Lake


Title: Mainspring
Author: Jay Lake
Copyright: 2007
Pages: 358
ISBN: 9780765356369
Publisher: Tor
Author Website:
Twitter: @torbooks, @jay_lake
Format: eBook
Rating: 4.5/5 stars

Mainspring is a hard book to categorize. It's like a theological steampunk/clockpunk adventure amalgamation. In this world, the Earth is actually a large clockwork that travels a cog orbit, the traveling gear spanning the Equatorial Wall that separates the planet into Northern and Southern Earth, with the moon following it's own cog orbit around the Earth. As the story opens, young apprentice Hethor is visited by the Archangel Gabriel and told that he must find the Key Perilous to wind the Mainspring of the world, as it is beginning to run down and slip and if he doesn't accomplish this holy task, the world will end. What follows is an adventure worthy of Robert Louis Stevenson with underlying tones of religion and theology. The basis of the religion of Northern Earth is a Clockwork Christianity (complete with a Brass Christ), but as Hethor journeys farther and farther in his mission and meets more people, he begins to question what he has been taught in his religious upbringing and instead begins to follow his own heart and path, even if these thoughts would normally be seen as heresy where he comes from. There is actually some deep theological thought processes going on in this book, which just added another layer of thought-provoking goodness to the story.

I was pleasantly surprised by the entire story with Mainspring. I wasn't actually sure what to expect (I thought I was actually just getting into a steampunk adventure), but Jay Lake weaves so much into this story concerning religion and what it can actually mean to each person when given the chance to view it away from their upbringing, it actually leaves quite a bit to think about. Don't get me wrong, though. There is plenty of adventure to big had; air ships, African jungles, polar expeditions, winged savages, clockwork statues, magicians. It seems Mainspring may actually have a little bit for everybody!


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