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Boneshaker (The Clockwork Century #1)

3.5  ·  Rating Details ·  27,359 Ratings  ·  3,700 Reviews
In the early days of the Civil War, rumors of gold in the frozen Klondike brought hordes of newcomers to the Pacific Northwest. Anxious to compete, Russian prospectors commissioned inventor Leviticus Blue to create a great machine that could mine through Alaska’s ice. Thus was Dr. Blue’s Incredible Bone-Shaking Drill Engine born.

But on its first test run the Boneshaker wen
Paperback, 416 pages
Published September 29th 2009 by Tor Books (first published June 1st 2009)
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Lisa Chaddock Great representation of Steampunk - sense of place and feel of the era, story line is consistent with the era, and the language is carefully crafted…moreGreat representation of Steampunk - sense of place and feel of the era, story line is consistent with the era, and the language is carefully crafted to fit the era. Other books: The Parasol Protectorate series by Gail Carriger, Leviathan series by Scott Westerfield, Infernal Devises series by Cassandra Claire, Ministry of Peculiar Occurances by Pip Ballentine, Magnificent Devises by Shelley Adina.(less)

Community Reviews

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``Miss Eliza Bennet, let me persuade you to follow my example, and take a turn about the room. -- I assure you the anti-gravity hoverchannel is very refreshing after sitting so long in one attitude.''

Eliza was surprised, but agreed to it immediately. She unstrapt herself from her leather seat restraints and stood, careful to maintain her balance as the airship encountered turbulence. When she entered the hoverchannel, she activated the polarity redistribution magnets within her combat suit and b
colleen the convivial curmudgeon

Steampunk and zombies and mini-apocalypse, oh my. How could you go wrong?

For starters, you could have lead characters that I never really connected with or cared that much about. Protagonists whose most active role was to get themselves into the city, and then who became fortunes of fate, as things happened to them.

I did like some of the secondary characters better, especially Swakhammer. (Though it seemed weird to me that Briar called calling him Mr. Swakhammer. It was probably meant to b
Dan Schwent
Dec 31, 2009 Dan Schwent rated it liked it
Sixteen years after Leviticus Blue reputedly robbed a string of banks and released the Blight using his drilling machine, the Boneshaker, his son Ezekiel goes back into the walled remains of Seattle, braving rotters and Doornails, to clear his name. His mother, Briar Wilkes, goes into the walled wasteland to bring him out. Can she find Zeke before Dr. Minnericht finds him?

I've got mixed feelings about this one. For one thing, the writing doesn't tickle my innards and the characters are all prett
Posted at Shelf Inflicted

Dazzling inventions, air pirates, evil bad guys, underground vaults, goggles, daring rescues, gold, Blight gas, a one-armed bartender, a princess, zombies. Oh, what fun!

The setting was vividly described and rich in details. The main characters were well developed and fascinating. Briar Wilkes, widow of Leviticus Blue, eccentric inventor, searches for her teenage son, Zeke, in a walled-off section of Seattle, where a dangerous yellow gas shrouds the city, forcing the re
I dug Cherie Priest’s Boneshaker, but I wanted so much more.

I dug Blighted Seattle and the Outskirts, but I wanted more detail in the former and more time in the latter.

I dug the Rotters, but I wanted more rot, more zombie madness, and more exploration of their potential ability to communicate and problem solve.

I dug the pseudo-history and Hale Quarter, the fictional biographer, but I wanted more installments of his history.

I dug the back story of Leviticus Blue, but I wanted to be convinced th
Dec 30, 2009 Felicia rated it liked it
Shelves: fantasy, steampunk
1) Best cover art I've seen in a LONG TIME!

2) Very specific style of writing that too a while to hook me. It reminded me of Red Dead Redemption in book form with Steampunk. I definitely got into it when all the zombie stuff took off, cool details there.
3) All the Steampunk stuff was awesome, and well detailed and realized. The world definitely grew on me a lot.
4) Main problem was that the characters didn't hook me until WAAAY into the book. I really feel like the main character could have been f

Started off slow, but I fully realize that was a miscalibration with the story compatibility recognizer. I don't really do the mother-hen story line, and I often get the urge to slap headstrong teenage boys. I started this on vacation in NYC, and we just weren't getting along. Plus, NYC is all busy and distracting and such. Once home, I picked it back up and had a little better luck, but soon got distracted with shinier books life. Finally opened it again today and finished the last 250 or so pa
2.5 stars. I liked the set up of this steampunk story and I thought the characters were well developed (especially Briar who I thought was great). That said, for some reason I did not get "hooked" on the story and found myself just getting through the book. For me, I would have liked to have learned more about the "alternate" world in which the book is set in and have the story tie into (or at least hint at) bigger issues to come. There were some nice tidbits about the larger world but I would h ...more
mark monday
Sep 05, 2010 mark monday rated it it was ok
Shelves: foggy-nights
engaging but decidedly minor yarn featuring brave women, pirate airships, a zombie plague, and a battered & barricaded alternate seattle. the steampunk elements are of the american west variety, so as far as the atmosphere conveyed, this is more muggy days than foggy nights. enjoyable for the most part, although the highly tedious & annoying character of the son made the last third tough-going at times.

i really don't have much else to say. this was a pleasant and forgettable way to pass

Christmas 2010: I realised that I had got stuck in a rut. I was re-reading old favourites again and again, waiting for a few trusted authors to release new works. Something had to be done.

On the spur of the moment I set myself a challenge, to read every book to have won the Locus Sci-Fi award. That’s 35 books, 6 of which I’d previously read, leaving 29 titles by 14 authors who were new to me.

While working through this reading list I got married, went on my honeymoon, switched career and became
Boneshaker is very different from other Steampunk books that I've read (and enjoyed). I think it's considered Steampunk because there are airships (not enough, though!) and a few machines that could be considered in the historical Sci Fi realm. Other than that, it does not have any of the characteristics that I look forward to in Steampunk. No adventure. No cool gadgets or scientific experiments (the breathing masks just don't count).

And there's far too much grit and gore. I've never really bee
Maja (The Nocturnal Library)
Is there anything a mother wouldn’t do to save her son? Even if they are mostly estranged and angry at each other? Would she willingly walk into a place where the air is poisonous and hundreds of zombies roam about?

Of course she would. I would, too.

That’s the choice Briar is forced to make, and it really isn’t a choice at all. Sixteen years ago, Seattle was destroyed by one of her late husband’s inventions, and she became an outcast, a poor, single mother with no one to rely on. From that poin
I really wanted to like this one - my first real foray into steampunk, which I've always found aesthetically amusing, at least - but somehow, it just didn't do it for me.

I mean, it's bursting with cool stuff and sounds like it should be really fun to read: a brilliant mad scientist, an inventor of a clockwork horror that ravaged a city; an isolated alternate Seatlle surrounded by a giant wall that keeps in a deadly gas; said gas turns people into flesh-hungry zombies; the only way to get over s
Megan Baxter
Aug 11, 2013 Megan Baxter rated it really liked it
My husband gave up on this one when he got a hundred pages in, and felt nothing was happening. So I wasn't too sure what I would make of it, but in the end, I liked it a lot more than he did. I certainly never felt like nothing was happening, and the core mother-son dynamic of the book I found particularly engaging.

Note: The rest of this review has been withdrawn due to the changes in Goodreads policy and enforcement. You can read why I came to this decision here.

In the meantime, you can read t
Feb 05, 2016 Fergal rated it it was amazing
This so could be made into film... loved it! Thanks Cherie :)
This was my first foray into steampunk – unless Golden Compass counts. This may not be my genre. I am willing to keep going for a book or two, but the prospects are poor. And according to the clerk at the bookstore, Soulless must be my next read.

I was on the fence about reading this one. It was officially on my to-read list, but the ho-hum reviews were making me doubt the placement. Then I heard Cherie Priest was coming to a local bookstore, Murder by the Book (great name, right?) in a week. I t
Apr 25, 2012 Darwin8u rated it did not like it
Recommends it for: Masochists, Fans of George Lucas' dialogue, Steampunkers w/ high threshold for pain.
Recommended to Darwin8u by: Cory Doctorow, the bastard.

I rarely (because I'm cheap and OCD) abandon a book. It may take me awhile, but eventually the constant chirp in the back of my brain makes me run and pick the damn thing up and just finish it. However, there are few RARE exceptions to this rule.

When a book is SO poorly written, so filled with cliches, bad adjectives, and weak verbs; when the dialogue is so awkward and stilted that it is a painful experience to read; when the book produces no virtuous feelings in me; when there is NO forward mo
Wil Wheaton
Jan 02, 2010 Wil Wheaton rated it it was amazing
Cherie (disclosure: she's a good friend, and I read the ARC of Boneshaker) has crafted a beautiful and believable world, and filled it with characters who never once rang false to me. The characters, the dialog, and the descriptive prose all come together to create a wonderful novel that is is easy to read and hard to put down.
Jason Pettus
(Reprinted from the Chicago Center for Literature and Photography []. I am the original author of this essay, as well as the owner of CCLaP; it is not being reprinted here illegally.)

Ah, steampunk! The very definition of a literary subgenre, steampunk tales fit not only within the general category of science-fiction (in that the storylines usually hinge on technology that has not yet been invented), but then bury this uninvented technology within a past that never was, usually th
Sarah Anne
My reaction to this book:

70% Really? But nothing has really happened!
85% This is really quite boring
87% Oh God, go away
90% Maybe I should DNF?
95% Somebody shoot me before I have to finish this
99% There's a freaking EPILOGUE?!?! I won't survive...

Well clearly I survived, but I do have to say that it takes a special book to turn steampunk and zombies into boredom. And I can't even imagine making 90% and DNFing. Until now.

Anyway, I found the story boring and predictable and I didn't like the altern
Oct 05, 2009 Dav rated it it was ok
I almost stopped reading this book 20 pages in when I realized there was going to be zombies. It was bad enough that it was a steam punk novel, but OMG zombies? Um, the Bandwagon came by, and it wants its memes back. Steam punk (which is "what happens when goths discover brown") has been strangely annoying to me since it exploded a couple of years ago. Strange because I should be into it as I do dig the aesthetic, but I just can't enjoy it because it turned into such a mindless hipster thing so ...more
Apr 16, 2013 Apatt rated it really liked it
Shelves: sci-fi
My first steampunk book... or is it? When I look at “Best steampunk books” list they tend to include H.G. Wells' The Time Machine and China Miéville's Perdido Street Station both of which I have read but I doubt Mr. Wells had steampunk in mind at the time of writing, and the excellent Perdido Street Station seems to encompass several subgenres. In any case Boneshaker is the first consciously steampunk book I ever read. According to Cherie Priest is the Queen of Steampunk, with Boneshaker ...more

Arrrr, matey! Yield all ye plunder to me!

What did you say? This isn't the Red Seas under Red Skies review? Well, but I'm still wearing me pirate costume. Okay, we go. I'm a steampunkin' Sky Pirate now. So get ready to be boarded!
What do you mean with "Be careful"? Zombies? There are Zombies in this novel? A'ight, I'll bring me some muskets fer them, aye? Heads or tails, aye! Probably heads would be better with them zombies, har!

And me heard that the lovely Briar Wilkes is in town as
Shannon (Giraffe Days)
Dec 12, 2009 Shannon (Giraffe Days) rated it it was ok
Recommended to Shannon (Giraffe Days) by: Erika
Seattle, 1879. Fifteen years ago a clever and talented inventor created a machine dubbed the Boneshaker, designed to mine for gold in the Yukon. Instead, he tunnelled under the city right into the banking district, causing whole sections of the city to cave in. After looting the banks he drove the machine back through the tunnels and into the basement of his fancy home, and was never seen again, leaving his pregnant wife with the stigma of Leviticus Blue's escapade.

Not only did the boneshaker de
Oct 06, 2009 Erika rated it it was amazing
There are several really cool things about Cherie Priest’s Boneshaker: the first is the eye-catching cover; the second, that it’s steampunk; the third--only noticeable when you peek inside--is the brown- (née, sepia) colored font. Reading Boneshaker is like looking into an old Victorian photograph--the exact effect I’d want if I was writing a book to fit a genre influenced primarily by that era. This isn’t the first book I’ve read with a font color other than black (an edition of Michael Ende’s ...more
Executive Summary: A surprisingly fun and quick read that has me rethinking this whole "steampunk" thing.

Full Review
When the novel was described to me as "Steampunk and Zombies, What's not to love?" my reaction was "Ugh. All of the above?"

I just don't "get" steampunk. And I'm certainly not big on the whole zombie craze. I've had this book for awhile from Humble Bundle 2, but wasn't planning to read it anytime soon.

I was pleasantly surprised. This is why I try to always read the monthly Sword
Feb 03, 2010 Stephanie rated it really liked it
No longer a vital city, Seattle is now completely walled off to contain a poisonous gas that now seeps from the city's underground areas after a man-made disaster caused havoc to the city center. The gas, called Blight, killed thousands of Seattle's inhabitants then caused them to be resurrected as flesh-craving zombies. A giant wall was erected to contain both the zombies and the gas.

Briar Wilkes lives with her son in the Outskirts, a dreary, poisoned place on the fringes of what used to be the
Rick Riordan
Nov 08, 2013 Rick Riordan rated it really liked it
set in an alternate Civil War America where a horrible accident has turned Seattle into a quarantined wasteland filled with zombies. Briar, the widow of the mad scientist who caused the disaster, must enter the city to find her son, who has gone there determined to find evidence that will clear his father’s name. This is a highly original pageturner and a must-read for steampunk fans.
Stephanie Swint
Sep 09, 2013 Stephanie Swint rated it liked it
Some books are fun and some are refined works of art. This is fun. It is dystopian historical revisionism of the civil war with steampunk airships, zombies, and a mom coming for her son. I listened to the audio version of the book narrated by Will Wheaton and Kate Reading. I’m not 100% sure it’s fine lit, but it was performed well and I enjoyed it. I did not read any portion of it and can not compare the experience. This may have altered my perception of the book for the good – Wheaton and Readi ...more
David Sven
Light and easy reading. It's Zombies and Steampunk that reads like a Western. Set in the last half of an alternate nineteenth century, this story takes us to zombie infested Seattle where mad inventor Leviticus Blue wreaked havok "testing" his new invention the "Boneshaker" - a steam powered drilling rig which he took for a joy ride underground all across town and struck gas instead of gold.

(It looks nothing like this)

The heavy gas, also known as "The Blight" killed the population with the surv
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CHERIE PRIEST is the author of over a dozen novels, including the steampunk pulp adventures The Inexplicables, Ganymede, Dreadnought, Clementine, and Boneshaker. Boneshaker was nominated for both the Hugo Award and the Nebula Award; it was a PNBA Award winner, and winner of the Locus Award for Best Science Fiction Novel. Cherie also wrote Bloodshot and Hellbent from Bantam Spectra; Fathom and the ...more
More about Cherie Priest...

Other Books in the Series

The Clockwork Century (6 books)
  • Dreadnought (The Clockwork Century, #2)
  • Ganymede (The Clockwork Century, #3)
  • The Inexplicables (The Clockwork Century, #4)
  • Fiddlehead (The Clockwork Century, #5)
  • Jacaranda (The Clockwork Century, #6)

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“She was thirty-five, and she did not look a minute younger.” 10 likes
“In California there were nuggets the size of walnuts lying on the ground—or so it was said, and truth travels slowly when rumors have wings of gold.” 7 likes
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