The Escapement picks up where Evil for Evil left off. It’s shorter than the previous two books in The Engineer Trilogy, but for all its brevity, it’s still packed with surprises. After reading two books without fully knowing what is being manipulated and planned, readers are presented with nearly constant revelations regarding characters and plot points that had only been hinted at and alluded to before.
Up to this point in the trilogy, Parker has indirectly discussed love and the question of the existence of good and evil. The Escapement explores these ideas openly in dialogue and self-monologues. Conversations about whether good and evil truly exist and about the driving force and impact of love are absolutely fascinating and provocative, and Parker has a real talent for shining a brand new light on seemingly tired concepts. While I am used to reading about how love conquers all, Parker takes a knife of realism to a concept that is often romanticized. Love may be a uniting force, but Parker also boldly shows how divisive and destructive it can be. What impressed me the most about The Escapement was how Parker organized the themes of the series while neatly resolving the many plotlines and character conflicts, bringing the story to a grotesquely Shakespearean, yet oddly satisfying close.
This series is not for the faint of heart, not because it’s overly violent or sexual, or even because of vulgar language, but because Parker is brutally realistic in ways that people may find uncomfortable thinking about. For example, Parker’s take on love can be depressing. Furthermore, potential readers should know that while this is a fantasy series, there is no magic in it. While this was refreshing for my skeptically-minded self, many fantasy readers may be turned off by the lack of the fantastic.
Parker’s writing is top notch, and if this book did lack a little of the freshness of Devices and Desires, that’s easy to overlook. The plot moves at a nearly breakneck pace and the ending is painfully realistic and satisfying. However, it is Parker’s attention to detail and to the underlying themes of the series that really make these books shine. This is a detailed, deep and layered plot that is sure to satisfy those who itch for something along these lines. I, for one, find myself absolutely enamored with The Escapement and The Engineer Trilogy.
FanLit thanks Sarah Chorn from Bookworm Blues for contributing this guest review.
Engineer — (2005-2007) Publisher: When an engineer is sentenced to death for a petty transgression of guild law, he flees the city, leaving behind his wife and daughter. Forced into exile, he seeks a terrible vengeance — one that will leave a trail of death and destruction in its wake. But he will not be able to achieve this by himself. He must draw up his plans using the blood of others… In a compelling tale of intrigue and injustice, K.J. Parker’s embittered hero takes up arms against his enemies, using the only weapons he has left to him: his ingenuity and his passion — his devices and desires.