3.65 (486 ratings by Goodreads)
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Paolina Barthes is a young woman of remarkable intellectual ability - a genius on the level of Isaac Newton. But she has grown up in isolation, in a small village of shipwreck survivors, on the Wall in the middle of the Atlantic Ocean. She knows little of the world, but she knows that England rules it, and must be the home of people who possess the learning that she so desperately wants. And so she sets off to make her way off the Wall, not knowing that she will bring her astounding, unschooled talent for sorcery to the attention of those deadly factions who would use or kill her for it.
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Product details

  • Hardback | 368 pages
  • 167.64 x 241.3 x 30.48mm | 657.71g
  • Tor Books
  • New York, United States
  • English
  • 0765317095
  • 9780765317094
  • 1,334,363

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Review quote

Praise for "Mainspring" "Theological steampunk set in a mechanical universe -- the debut novel from a noted short-story writer....Good elements -- intriguing alternate history, solid characters, briskly moving plot." --"Kirkus Reviews" "Could "Mainspring" be the opening canto of a metaphysical magnum opus in the vein of Wolfe? Yes, very plausibly. The language is lyrical and perfectly calibrated, the symbolism is profound, the intelligent mystification is just at the appropriate level. With this novel, Jay Lake has ascended from journeyman to Master; let the Masterwork now unfold." --"Locus" "A dark, wild mix of machine and magic--an impressive debut novel from short story maestro Jay Lake." --Greg Bear "From the sweeping mechanisms of his clockwork world, down to the subtle movements of his characters, all drawn with a clockmaker's eye, Lake gives us a story both grand and intimate, smart and savvy... and a whole lot of fun to boot." --Hal Duncan, author of "Vellum " "In "Mainspring," Lake has created a grandiose, thoroughly engaging blasphemy. This book blends the best of nostalgic adventure fiction with a genuinely fresh voice and ideas. An instant steampunk classic."-- Cory Doctorow "As if Edgar Rice Burroughs had collaborated with Adam Roberts, or as if Robert Louis Stevenson had partnered with Gene Wolfe, Jay Lake, in his new novel "Mainspring," delivers a mad, brave, compellingly readable tale of an alternate universe where the gear-stuffed Earth literally rolls through the Heavens on a brass track. Lake, with the artist's instincts for narrative and character over dogma, takes this conceit and runs with it in postmodern fashion toward a conclusion both shattering and redemptive. Lucent, tactile, deeply inhabited, the world of Hethor Jacques is a marvelous subcreation stuffed full of miracles, both cosmic and domestic. In Hethor's world, one can hear the midnight meshing of mystical gears. I imagine they sound somewhat like the subliminal hum of this book." --Paul Di Filippo, author of "The Steampunk Trilogy""The gears that propel this story run -- yes -- like clockwork. The world Jay's created here is one of the best wind-up toys a reader could ever want." --John Scalzi, author of "Old Man's War" ""Mainspring" is a grand and glorious adventure, an epic journey of imagination the likes of which I haven't often seen... a breathlessly exciting tale that takes the best old-school storytelling and the most vivid contemporary world-building sensibilities and spot-welds them together. Think Edgar Rice Burroughs or Philip Jose Farmer meets China Mieville or Ian R. MacLeod, by way of religious allegory. "Mainspring" is always gripping and often dazzling in its vision." "A fascinating take on the God-as-clockmaker theory, this is a compellingly readable coming-of-age story. Hethor Jacques is a likable protagonist, and while the plot slows down in the middle, the book as a whole ticks along agreeably with superb world-building and an original take on an old idea.""-- Romantic Times BOOKreviews" "Lake envisions the universe as an enormous clockwork, put in motion by God, complete with gears and a mainspring hidden at the Earth's center, in his intriguing first trade hardcover novel, a fantasy set in the magic-tinged late 19th century....Lake demonstrates his enormously fertile imagination in this unusual book." --"Publishers Weekly"
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About Jay Lake

Jay Lake lives and works in Portland, Oregon. He is the author of over two hundred short stories, four collections, and a chapbook, along with several novels. In 2004, Jay won the John W. Campbell Award for Best New Writer.
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Rating details

486 ratings
3.65 out of 5 stars
5 20% (96)
4 38% (187)
3 31% (149)
2 9% (45)
1 2% (9)
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