My rating: 5 of 5 stars
The fourth installment in Cherie Priest’s Clockwork Century series, Ganymede is now finally getting into actual sequel territory. Like Clementine and Dreadnought, it’s a standalone story–but this time, one of the spotlight characters in fact someone who previously showed up in Boneshaker, and we’ve got clear followup to the events in that book. So if you want to jump in on this series–and if you like steampunk, zombies, and/or the Civil War era, you should–this is not the place to start.
New Orleans madam Josephine Early is spearheading a secret Confederate attempt to hand over the submersible Ganymede to the Union, in a desperate attempt to turn the tide of the ongoing war. But no one’s left alive who knows how to safely operate the machine, and so Josephine’s forced to call for help to an old flame. She’s fiercely hoping that the airship pilot Andan Cly will be able to use his skills to pilot a machine that goes underwater instead of through the air, and she’s desperate enough that she isn’t exactly ready to tell him that the machine’s drowned all its previous crews.
And without a doubt, the relationship and backstory between Josephine and Andan is one of the high points of the book. I’ve found Priest to always be excellent at what romantic notes she introduces into a story, and this one’s no exception; the prior state of this relationship is played off with the exact right understated note against the bigger picture of the current intrigues. Toss in some glimpses at New Orleans’ zombie problem AND the issue of how the problem’s spreading across the country, references back to characters in all three of the previous books, and a supporting cast of colorful characters (one of whom has a secret revealed that amusingly blows Andan’s mind) and there’s a whole lot to like here.
Bonus points as well for the amusing use of actual Civil War history. It was particularly amusing to me to see a news link going around about the restoration of the Hunley–the actual vehicle named for the man who’s referenced in this novel as the creator of the Ganymede.
All in all, great fun. Five stars.