|"The quickest way to a mans 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. Parkers Engineer Trilogy. The war, which
previously had favoured the Mezentines, has now turned sharply in Duke Valens favour. His
late wifes 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 Vaatzess 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
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
Mezentias 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.