Mainspring is not a book I would have normally read. I like my fantasy to be epic and traditional. While Mainspring isn't traditional in my sense of the word, it is epic in nature. It has a humble main character, orphaned, friendless, and without resources, who is given a quest to save the world. Along the way, he is imprisoned, rescued, meets strange and fearsome creatures and people who may or may not be friends/enemies. All this takes place in an Earth run by clockwork and Equatorial Walls and mainsprings and tracks and Christ's horofixion.
Hethor, an apprentice to a clockmaker, is visited one night by the angel Gabriel. Gabriel tells Hethor the Mainspring of the world runs down, and Hethor must find the Key Perilous and set it right. Alone, penniless, and without a clue where to start, Hethor sets out on his quest to find the key. By chance and luck he is steered to board an airship and to cross the Equatorial Wall into the South, a land of strange magics and peoples.
Hethor is an endearing character, and I was quickly drawn into his story. I found my first introduction into the world of steampunk (SF elements translated to the Victorian era), althernate 19th Century history, and clockwork to be fascinating. The way the concepts of the world were introduced and dropped seamlessly into the narrative made it easy for a novice such as myself to understand. I loved the language used in the book, simple and yet complex enough that I had to get my dictionary out a few times. I learned a lot of new words, which is always nice.
Hethor is a reluctant and somewhat incompetent hero, but he's loyal and courageous and I wanted him to have a happily-ever-after story. I won't ruin the story by telling you whether or not he does. I recommend you read his story to find out for yourself.
I'm looking forward to reading Escapement
, which involves the same world but different characters.