Science Fiction and Fantasy Association of New Zealand

The Escapement The Escapement
Engineer Trilogy Book 3
by K. J. Parker

Supplied for review by Hachette New Zealand

Reviewed By: Stephen Litten

"The quickest way to a man’s heart," the instructor said, "is proverbially through his stomach, but if you want to get into his brain, I recommend the eye-socket." Thus starts The Escapement, the concluding book of K. J. Parker’s Engineer Trilogy. The war, which previously had favoured the Mezentines, has now turned sharply in Duke Valens favour. His late wife’s people, the Aram Chantat, have come over the desert and number over half a million warriors. Mezentia's mercenaries have debunked and the engineers of Mezentia must learn to be soldiers. Ziani Vaatzes’s plans to be re-united with his family are looking much better. All he must do is avoid sacking Mezentia, a prospect that is highly likely. The Mezentines are great engineers but rubbish soldiers. To compound matters, his apprentice, Daurenja, is bent on making a cannon to reduce the walls of Mezentia…

The Escapement brings to a conclusion all the story threads that had been left hanging by Evil for Evil and Devices and Desires. Valens, tragically widowed not long after his wedding, has married Veatriz, the widow of Orsea. Valens is wondering how he can run a duchy that is going to be inundated with nomads. The Aram Chantat, while understanding the needs of men are not impressed with Valens and would prefer a new leader, one who takes the war more aggressively to the enemy. Councillor Psellus, suddenly propelled to the leadership of Necessary Evil, must try and save Mezentia. He also has a number of interesting revelations concerning Mezentia’s past. Miel Dukas is adjusting to life as a dispossessed nobleman. Daurenja just wants to make his cannon and prove to the world he did it. Former head of Necessary Evil Boiannes just wants everything back the way it was. Well, in Mezentia, that is.

The plot twists and turns. Psellus, originally a bit shallow and vanilla, has grown into the job of Head of Necessary Evil. He provides some welcome levity, considering his world is rapidly collapsing. Valens is moving farther out of depth, and is aware that he is being manipulated. Vaatzes plays his luck.

The Escapement is a satisfying conclusion to a very good trilogy. I hope that Parker uses this world more, and I want his other novels or series to be set in it, or use some of the same characters. I hate being dissatisfied because a story has ended.

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