by Jay Lake
Cover Artist: Stephan Martiniere
Review by Harriet Klausner
Tor Books Hardcover ISBN/ITEM#: 9780765321862
Date: 30 March 2010 List Price $26.99 Amazon US / Amazon UK / Show Official Info /
The young sorceress Paolina Barthes has thrown a monkey wrench into the gears of the Clockwork Earth society where she lives (see Escapement and Mainspring). Now she is on the run as two rival ambitious groups The Silent Order and the White Birds want to control her "free will" magic that each believes will enable them finally to gain absolute authority.
Paolina's goal is to leave the Northern Hemisphere by doing the unimaginable. She plans to cross over The Equatorial Wall that God constructed to keep the orb rotating through heaven by separating the hemispheres. As Paolina treks south with adversaries in pursuit, she knows she needs time to better understand and employ her unique skills that have shattered ancient beliefs and shaken the core of the planet, as well as for her to better comprehend her feelings towards her missing brass man, Boaz.
At Paolina flees southward to remain free-willed, Boaz, Emily Childress the Mask Librarian, and others are in a Chinese submarine being sought by another power The Southern Empire. These mystics know of the coming of the mage who destroyed the precision balance to the north and plan to prevent this heretic from causing turmoil and disarray. They know it is their God given right to prevent Paolina from further breaking up Clockwork Earth with the unintended consequences of her free will magic. They aim to capture Childress and associates prior to going after Barthes even while the target of three empires begins to understand the purpose of the great Wall that God built.
The final tale in the Clockwork Earth trilogy is a great finish to a fascinating saga because Jay lake effortlessly blends metaphysical cosmological themes with strong characters inside an exciting story line. The story line is fast-paced in spite of a deep philosophical look at religion and magic vs. science, and free will vs. predestination and subjection. Filled with action, the climax contains two terrific subplots that ultimately converge in what is a big crunch finish.
The key ensemble cast is fully developed and much of the support characters are used to enhance the feel of a world going through a possible transformation similar perhaps to the beginning of the Age of Reason overturning the divine rights of kings' concept. Still the series belongs to the conflicted heroine. Paolina is confused by her ability to think outside the clockwork precised box as dictated by the groups that own the world due, they insist, to their divine right to rule. However, she feels her free will skills are the right of every person. When she reaches the Equatorial Wall, she obtains an epiphany that will surprise the audience, but feels genuine. Her feelings for Boaz also bewilder her as she misses her man of brass. She is the glue that holds the exhilarating thought provoking tale together as the focus of three dangerous powerful groups.
This is a great trilogy from start to finish. The only caution to readers besides setting aside a ton of time is to first peruse Mainspring and then Escapement before starting Pinion.