Ganymede – The Clockwork Century #3 – Cherie Priest
The air pirate Andan Cly is going straight. Well, straighter. Although he’s happy to run alcohol guns wherever the money’s good, he doesn’t think the world needs more sap, or its increasingly ugly side-effects. But becoming legit is easier said than done, and Cly’s first legal gig—a supply run for the Seattle Underground—will be paid for by sap money.
New Orleans is not Cly’s first pick for a shopping run. He loved the Big Easy once, back when he also loved a beautiful mixed-race prostitute named Josephine Early—but that was a decade ago, and he hasn’t looked back since. Jo’s still thinking about him, though, or so he learns when he gets a telegram about a peculiar piloting job. It’s a chance to complete two lucrative jobs at once, one he can’t refuse. He sends his old paramour a note and heads for New Orleans, with no idea of what he’s in for—or what she wants him to fly.
But he won’t be flying. Not exactly. Hidden at the bottom of Lake Pontchartrain lurks an astonishing war machine, an immense submersible called the Ganymede. This prototype could end the war, if only anyone had the faintest idea of how to operate it…. If only they could sneak it past the Southern forces at the mouth of the Mississippi River… If only it hadn’t killed most of the men who’d ever set foot inside it.
But it’s those “if onlys” that will decide whether Cly and his crew will end up in the history books, or at the bottom of the ocean.
‘Ganymede’ takes us along to the other side of the country while the Civil War is still raging. Where our main character in ‘Dreadnought’ lived and worked on the side of the Texians, we’re now full on in Union territory. But as with the other books there is always a connection to Seattle and the people living there. This time Andan Cly and his Namaah Darling get the spotlight, as they set out to help an old friend in New Orleans to move a mysterious object.
Josephine Early is, just as the other women in Priest’s books, a very strong female character. She runs a high class brothel in New Orleans and is involved in espionage for the Union. New Orleans is at the time occupied by the Texians and to end the war and free their city, the guerrillas want to move the Ganymede, a war submarine, to the ships of the Union. But the Texians know that the Ganymede is somewhere in New Orleans and they want it too. Only problem is, there hasn’t been anyone able to pilot the thing. Some of the people trying didn’t even make it out alive. That’s when Josephine decides to contact her former lover, Adan Cly, who left for the Washington territory years before.
Captain Cly is considering quiting the sap trade, because the horrendous effects of the drug are getting clearer every day. He wants to settle down in Seattle and start a life there. When he gets Josey’s telegram he is at first not sure if he should do it, but when it becomes clear the underground city in Seattle needs supplies, he decides doing the two things at once: helping Josephine and resupplying the underground. Thing is, he doesn’t have any idea what it is Josephine wants him to do.
It was great being back in Seattle, even if it was just for a little while. I really enjoy reading about the city Priest created in her first book, ‘Boneshaker’, and it feels good going back there now. The biggest part of the book however is set in New Orleans, new grounds to discover yet again, which makes this third installment in the Clockwork Century just as exciting as the others.
I also really enjoyed hitting the road with Andan and his crew, where there is a new addition: Kirby Troost. I don’t really know what to think of him and I’m sure you’ll get the same feeling when you read the book. I guess there’s more to them that will still have to be uncovered.
Captain Cly is a wonderful character. He’s this funny, awkward big man with a heart of gold trying to do what’s best for everyone. He’s the perfect guy to pilot the Ganymede, because whenever he commits to something, he’ll sure as hell try his best to succeed.
I really liked Josey. As I said before: another very strong female character that knows how to kick ass and shoot a gun. Somewhere along the way she also meets a character from the second book, ‘Dreadnought’, and their interactions and chemistry (though it didn’t get much ‘screentime’) was fantastic.
Surely you’re thinking right about now: where are the goddamn rotters? Don’t worry! They’re every bit as present as in the other two books. The effects of the yellow sap have spread as far as New Orleans and let’s just say: I wouldn’t go down to the river at night if I were one of the residents of New Orleans. I’m sure there are a few Texians who can attest to that. Some who survive an encounter with the Zombis (as they are called here) have a hard time convincing others of their existence, but more and more people eventually have to admit that something is wrong. But how to stop them?
Priest builds up her story rather slowly, lots of preparations for the move of the Ganymede and sneaking around. The war is still raging, so there is definitely some action here and there, but we’re never in the middle of it, except for one part somewhere in the beginning. That is, until the end of the book. Priest ends ‘Ganymede’ with another exciting, action-packed and exhilarating climax that is yet again different from all the other books she wrote in this series. This time, we experience the battle from under water. Bombs, explosions, the tension over the clean air supply, wreckages falling in the water, it’s all there and it keeps you on the edge of your seat all the time. A slow build-up and a fantastic ending, the latter making up for the bits in the book that were a bit too slow for me.
I think the second book is still my favourite, but this one was definitely a very good addition to the series.