Ganymede is the fourth addition to the Clockwork Century universe, coming after Boneshaker, Clementine, and Dreadnought (in that order)**–-all of whicGanymede is the fourth addition to the Clockwork Century universe, coming after Boneshaker, Clementine, and Dreadnought (in that order)**–-all of which are centered around a steampunk alternate history in which the American Civil War has carried on for nearly decades longer than in real life. The story follows two main characters: former lovers Andan Cly, the air pirate fans got to meet first in Boneshaker, and Josephine Early, a biracial prostitute and Union spy who is new to the series.
I'd do a rundown of what it's about, but that's what that summary way up at the top of the page is for!
What I Liked
Airship pirates, New Orleanian prostitutes, Texas Rangers, a submarine, spies, a Voodoo queen, zombis… Ganymede has got them all. For those who have been following the series all along, we get the treat of seeing some past characters make appearances, though I won’t say who (besides Andan, of course). As for new characters, a particularly interesting one for me–-perhaps because of her mystery–-was the Voodoo practitioner Marie Laveau, who was based on the real-life figure. I really wanted to learn more about her, though. It’s a shame we didn’t get to see more of her in action.
Another thing I liked was the attention to detail that Priest showed when it came to the settings. You really get the sense that she knows these places: Seattle, New Orleans, the swamps. Maybe at times we got just a little too much description–-how many scents can the human nose really pick up on all at once?–-but I did appreciate it nonetheless. Also, Priest gives us a lot of great details about how the submarine works, how the crew worked to navigate it, etc. I found that interesting.
Lastly, I liked some of romance at the beginning; I thought it was cute.
What I Wasn’t So Keen On
The history between Andan and Josephine held the potential for a lot of tension and conflict. With them being former lovers, I’d expected a few sparks to fly–and they do, but I wonder if it was enough. There were a few power struggles here and there, but…I guess I was expecting more. (Though, maybe that's actually a good thing. *shrugs*)
There was also a certain reveal that popped up with one of the characters, which I was a little confuddled on. It seems recently there’s been a huge surge with authors wanting to include more characters who are gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgendered in their stories. I’ve got nothing against this, but when it is done I feel like it needs to be well-integrated. If it’s sprung on you at the last minute then is never mentioned again, then why use it in the first place? Mere shock factor doesn’t cut it for me. If it’s supposed to shock, then shouldn't it also continue to add more tension throughout the rest of the story (at least until it's resolved)?
I won’t spoil who’s who and what, but I will say the reveal of character which occurred in this light didn’t hold any real significance for me. I wasn’t shocked (that seemed to be the intent) so much as left scratching my head, wondering why it mattered in the scope of the larger story. (And if it shouldn't matter, then why make such a big deal about it?)
For Cherie Priest, steampunk is all about having fun, and I believe she delivers plenty of this with Ganymede. It may not be my favorite story in the Clockwork Century series, but I did enjoy reading it. I liked spending time with the characters and thought they were all full of personality and pluck. Sometimes, though, I wish she would take things a little further–-like with Marie Laveau–-but in some cases it could be she’s just saving some action for future novels. In any case, I think I’ll stick around for the next to find out how it all ends. ;)
**For newcomers to the Clockwork Century: I wouldn't say you'd have to read the other books in this series first to get a hold on what’s going on, but as with any series you’d have a fuller reading experience if you did. If there’s one book I would recommend reading before Ganymede, though, it would be Boneshaker--just because it gives you a clear picture of where all of the events in the following books are stemming from. Besides the war, there’s one other major event that’s affecting the overarching plot.