Wow. I chewed through this novel in about three days. I picked it up from the library on Saturday on a whim – I’d seen it there and recognised it as one on my ‘to read list’ – despite having just finished a Lake story. And I’m glad I did, because it is a real page-turner.

Lakes’ sequel to Mainspring, Escapement was a good read. But after reading Mainspring I think it does run a definite second. Where Mainspring is a discrete story, Escapement reads more like a haphazard collection of discarded threads, ones that would most probably have been best left behind. In large part this is because Mainspring is riddled with your conventional Jesus-motif, something of the hero-mets-Yahweh so common to so many American novels. Escapement on the other hand is far more your conventional-hero-story material.

Mainspring is the tale of Hethor, a clockmakers apprentice visited at night by the Archangel Gabriel. He his given the quest to find andwind the mainspring of the world, thereby preventing the earth from grinding to a halt. And that’s the angle that’s so interesting in this series. On Lake’s Earth the equator is girthed by a colossal wall, atop which sits a track that the Earth rotates upon daily, and which is part of the universal clockwork. Pretty amazing imagination, that Lake.

The era is Victorian, and the technology is pretty firmly coal-fired industrial, which places Mainspring smack bang in the middle of your steampunk genre, right? Well, maybe, because the whole giant-wall-girthing the Earth also makes it pretty squarely a hollow-Earth novel. Interesting stuff, and like I say, a page-turner.