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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A tale from the age of Jules Verne..., 12 Oct. 2011
This review is from: Pinion (Clockwork Earth) (Paperback)
This is the concluding volume of a trilogy sent in a very strange world. The solar system is a giant 'device', that runs on clockwork to keep the Earth and other bodies in their 'orbits'. The Northern and Southern hemispheres are very different. The North contains two warring mega-empires, the Brtish Empire and Imperial China. They fight on land and sea and in the air using steam-powered vessels and firearms. The overt conflict between these powers masks a deeper conflict between two secret societies who use both Powers. There is a wall between the hemispheres which is all but impenetrable. In this wall live the Brass, mechanical beings, one of whom was the 'Brass Christ'.

In this book we see the Southern hemisphere for the first time, separated from the Northern one by a gigantic brass 'gear' which keeps everything moving. The British try to drill though it, the Chinese try to find a way over it but both fail. In the South live tribes more interested in magic than science. Hethor, from the first book is living in the South and he meets Paolina, the 'sorceress' from the second book. She can manipulate reality through a 'gleam', rather like a slide rule, which seems to follow 'scientific principles' (an equal reaction for every action) when she uses it to manipulate the reality of the clockwork universe. She has already used it to kill and is loath to continue killing with it, which makes some scenes much more tense than they otherwise would be.

All the various sub plots set in this book and the previous ones converge on narrative tracks to a common end point in space and time. Queen Victoria wishes to die as she is being kept alive in a fluid-filled tank. Her man Kitchens is driven mad by his promise to her to end her misery. Childress from Boston and the Chinese scholar Wang, both librarians, both pretending to be members of the two secret societies, cross paths en route to a fateful meeting. Paolina journeys over the Wall in her hunt for the 'Brass Man' Boaz, whom she loves, and she is accompanied by Gashansunu, a Southern witch-woman. Boaz is also trying to find her, his journeying given a Biblical commentary which only he can hear, whispered to him via a lost 'Seal of Solomon' which he carries.

This trilogy is a descendent of those creaky late 19th century adventure stories which used daft technology (like giant guns) to get people to the Moon or had explorers stumble upon lost civilisations hidden underground. Rather than good against evil, the plot driver here is correcting imbalances between the various structural conflicts. The final image is that of Paolina and Boaz on the Wall, with Boaz literally transformed by her love. This is a victory for romance, not virtuous force of arms, a restoration of balance rather than a removal of evil.

Finally, the images in this trilogy are breath taking and a film of this book would be a fitting challenge for the full barrage of CGI trickery to realise this monster clockwork reality.
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