Monday, January 28, 2008

Book Review: Mainspring by Jay Lake

Every Monday, I'll be doing spoiler-free book reviews.

I honestly have no idea what clockpunk is. Yet if there's anything that would describe this novel best, that word seems to fit. In Mainspring, Lake gives us the traditional fantasy narrative yet he uses unique and original elements to tell the tale, drawing from Christian myth and his own fertile imagination. Lake's tone is consistent all throughout and the characterization of the main character, Hethor, is the foundation of the book. The writing style of the author is neither intimidating nor overly elaborate and instead takes on a more functional feel, just enough to give the necessary details but not too sparse as if to make it appear lacking. The morality in Mainspring is neither black nor white as one would expect from a traditional fantasy tale. Instead, both the heroes and villains (who can identify which is which?) are well-developed characters both with noble and not-so-noble motivations. Lake also sprinkles just enough doubt to make you wonder whether our hero is truly serving the cause of good or not. If I have any complaint about the book, it's that it starts out strong but towards the end, it falters a bit when it starts to throw in all these alien elements that in my opinion haven't been seeded well enough. Overall, Mainspring was an enjoyable read and is a refreshing novel as far as the expected fantasy genre goes.

Rating: 3/5.

Rating System:

1 - There are better ways to spend your time.
2 - Ho hum books, usually typical of its genre. Probably only recommendable to die-hard fans.
3 - A cut above the rest, usually with one or more elements that sets it apart from the norm.
4 - Highly recommended and is easily a pioneer of the genre.
5 - A classic or it will be.

3 comments:

J M McDermott said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
J M McDermott said...

I don't know how easy or hard Nightshade Books, an independent publisher, can be to find in your neck of the woods, but I do want to recommend "Trial of Flowers" by Jay Lake for good, old-fashioned escapist fantasy pleasure... warped and twisted through Jay Lake's zany imagineering box which must certainly be hidden under his desk.

Charles said...

I'm borrowing it from a friend. They just haven't gotten around to loaning it to me yet. =)