mordicai caeli (mordicai) wrote,
mordicai caeli
mordicai

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Inhlanzi just means "fish"? (60)

Escapement by Jay Lake.

I stopped angel's hearts,
tore queens from their thrones, & kings,
with my pocket watch.

This comes next in jaylake's series that started with Mainspring, & I really like it. Second books-- I'm turning out to like second books from Tor a lot lately, like Queen of Candesce. This novel is three yarns, three character threads, some of them minor characters in the first book; the librarian, Childress is my favorite of the bunch, then there is Al-Wazir, the chief, & Paolina, the new character, the youthful polymath. The new Newton, they keep calling her. Newton the Alchemist! Following the lead of the first book, there is plenty of word play here, & plenty more details on the worldbuilding. Instead of talking about that, lets talk about the stuff that does stand out in contrast. Like-- the Chinese! You get a pretty good window into the Chinese here, & I really like what I see. While the British see the clockwork of heaven & read the hand of God, the Chinese see perfect evidence of the Celestial Hierarchy. So right there, the dueling paradigms are set up to be equally viable. Lake does an excellent job making the Chinese the same but different-- that is, the oddity & weirdness of the Chinese are clearly a point of perspective, one that starts dissolving as the characters become better acquainted with the culture. & I really liked the way he rendered the languages, too. Besides that, you get bits of the Solomonic Kingdom Ophir, & their brass automatons, which you know. Soon. They have Seals made by King Solomon for "brains" or a "soul" or whatever.

Oh, & before I sign off, one thing that bothered me-- on page 126, Librarian Childress corrects Captain Leung's classification of angels as "European," saying they are "Biblical" & that she ...wasn't sure what a European angel would be. Well I call foul! Clearly the angels are European, because they are beautiful humanoids with wings. Not winged chimera or rings of fire; they are Pre-Raphaelite angels. Now, I at first thought angels were going to act as a sort of genius loci, or at least, manifest that way. The excuse of perspective, writ large. Then the winged savages show up, who as far as I can determine are made in the image of the angels. Childress, as a well-educated scholar, should have known better! That is all I'm saying. I wonder if Green will answer the riddle? If not, I'm guessing Pinion, the fourth book, has a darn good chance of it, with a title like that.
Tags: books, clockwork earth, haiku, lake, steampunk
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