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Mercy Lynch is working at a war hospital in Richmond, Virginia, when she learns that her husband has died in a POW camp and her estranged father is gravely injured and wishes to see her. With no good reason to stay in Virginia, Mercy sets out to see her father in Seattle.

But crossing the country is no small task; it's a harrowing adventure through war-torn border states by dirigible, rail, and the Mississippi River. And once Mercy finally arrives in St. Louis, the only Tacoma-bound train is pulled by a terrifying Union-operated steam engine called the Dreadnought. Lacking options and running out of money, Mercy buys a ticket and climbs aboard.

What ought to be a quiet trip turns deadly when the train is beset by bushwackers, then vigorously attacked by a band of Rebel soldiers. The train is moving away from battle lines into the vast, unincorporated west, so Mercy can't imagine why it's meeting such resisitance. Perhaps it has something to do with the mysterious cargo in the second and last train cars?

Mercy is just a frustrated nurse who wants to see her father before he dies. But she'll have to survive both Union intrigue and Confederate opposition if she wants to make it off the Dreadnought alive.

400 pages, Paperback

First published January 1, 2010

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About the author

Cherie Priest

81 books4,039 followers
Cherie Priest is the author of two dozen books and novellas, most recently The Toll, The Family Plot, The Agony House, and the Philip K. Dick Award nominee Maplecroft; but she is perhaps best known for the steampunk pulp adventures of the Clockwork Century, beginning with Boneshaker. Her works have been nominated for the Hugo and Nebula awards for science fiction, and have won the Locus Award (among others) – and over the years, they’ve been translated into nine languages in eleven countries. Cherie lives in Seattle, WA, with her husband and a menagerie of exceedingly photogenic pets.

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Displaying 1 - 30 of 768 reviews
Profile Image for Sandi.
510 reviews278 followers
October 30, 2010
Cherie Priest's Dreadnought is set in the same alternate history as Boneshaker but really doesn't connect with it until the last couple of chapters. It's the story of a Confederate Civil War nurse who receives a letter telling her that her husband, a Union soldier, has died. A couple of days later, she receives a telegram telling her that her father is dying and wants to see her. So, she sets off to travel from Virginia to Tacoma to see him for the first time since she was a little girl. (For some reason, I was confusing Tacoma with Spokane, so I had her traveling to the wrong part of the state.) In this version of American History, the Civil War has raged for more than twenty years and Texas is it's own country. As happens in war, technology rises up to help in the fighting and destruction. Once Mercy sets off for Washington, she faces one danger after another, each worse than the one before.

I think Priest made a good choice in choosing a journey to tell this story. It allows her to show what is happening in North America without using a lot of boring exposition. While Boneshaker showed us a microcosm of this world, Dreadnought expands the view to cover the continent.

The pacing of this novel is amazing. It starts off slow (for just a short time) and builds to a breakneck speed, mirroring Mercy's journey. I really enjoyed all the action, even the battle scenes. This book would make a great movie.

I don't have much to say about Kate Reading's narration. It fit seamlessly with the story and was quite good.
Profile Image for Cherie.
1,286 reviews113 followers
March 4, 2017
Absolutely amazing! I wasn't sure how this story was going to tie into the story from the first book, but it definitely did. Another strong woman character and the alternate history of Civil War torn America world building continues.

Mercy Lynch, a nurse in a Confederate Army hospital finds out her husband is dead and her father is dying on almost the same day. She hasn't seen her father since she was a young girl and he had left, only to disappear "somewhere out west". Contacted by a sheriff in Tacoma, Washington, she hears that her father may be dying, but he wants to see her, if she will come. She decides to go west. What she encounters, who she meets along the way, and how it all happened is rolled out in a blow by blow sequence that had me on the edge of my chair. The. Whole. Way.
Profile Image for David Skies.
62 reviews7 followers
March 1, 2011
(Received my ARC via Goodreads)

It's all about the journey, not the destination, in Priest's third entry in The Clockwork Universe. A journey undertaken via airship, steamship and the eponymous Dreadnought, a monstrous Union war train carry more guns than the Texas chapter of the NRA. It's a journey with more than its fair share of bumps along the way, true, but it's also a very linear one.

Throughout the voyage battles are fought, unsurprising mysteries revealed, rebel raiders repelled, numerous secondary characters with hazy motivations encountered, and a horde of zombie heroically disposed of. Because what's a steampunk tale without a healthy dose of zombies? Don't worry, we're sure the werewolves will appear next issue.

And throughout all these varied tribulations protagonist Vinita "Mercy" Lynch remains as steady and unflappable as bedrock. Nothing much seems to truly shock the recently widowed Mrs. Lynch, which, unfortunately, means nothing much truly shocks you.

Still, it's entertaining enough. Three-and-a-half stars out of five.
Profile Image for Adam.
558 reviews348 followers
July 29, 2011
I was about to dismiss Cherie Priest and her Clockwork Century series as over hyped, finding them pleasant enough while being slightly confused by enthusiastic praise being heaped on them. But, this final scheduled volume (hopefully there will be more) changes most of my concerns. This is a great adventure with lots action and terrific pacing. There are too many characters with too little differentiating a lot of them and the ending is a bit of a fizzle. The extended Civil War has always been in the background in the first two books and here we finally get to see some of it. So this is an adventure with war, steam punk gadgets(never overbearing), zombies, intrigue, bandits, and some terrific set pieces. I could definitely read more of these.
Profile Image for Megan Baxter.
985 reviews656 followers
April 10, 2015
Three books seems to be about the amount I need to decide whether or not I'm going to continue to read an author's books, unless they do something right away to piss me off. This is the third Cherie Priest book I've read. Unless something major happens, it's also likely to be the last. I'm just not getting enough out of them, and there are things that nag.

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 the entire review at Smorgasbook
Profile Image for Lauren Stoolfire.
3,566 reviews259 followers
September 1, 2019
I like Cherie Priest's style, but unfortunately Dreadnought didn't quite hold my attention as much as Boneshaker. I will definitely have to read more of her work in the future. I'm looking forward to more of The Clockwork Century and others from her in the future!
Profile Image for Amy B.
248 reviews18 followers
April 6, 2015
2.5 stars. I'm still not sure what the purpose of this book was. Not that every book has to have a purpose, but there must be something that drove the author to write it, even if merely for entertainment. The Dreadnought is full of wonderful descriptions and a well-laid out story; it just wasn't a very interesting story. It started off well, and I was ready and willing to go for a steampunk-inspired ride aboard a Union train in a Civil War Era America populated with machines, dirigibles, and steamboats. But 170 pages in and....not much had happened. Mercy's character, back story, and future plans were established, but all that could have been done in a mere 100 pages, and held my interest better.

Finally she boards the train and I thought, now the fun will start! And for a while I was swept up in the secrets, possible conspiracies, Confederate/Union tensions, and the speckling of unique characters - the suspicious lawman, the charming captain, the nasty scientist, and the spunky seat-mate (a word I just made up), among others. But the potential found there just fizzled out. Much of this was due to Mercy.

Mercy is solid, useful, and level-headed, but utterly uninterested in making any sort of connections with other individuals. I appreciate that she was different than a typical heroine - less emotional (fine), contentedly alone (I can dig that), but she was just too distant for me to truly like her.

Why does she dislike the capable, clever Theodora but make friends with the two random "women of ill repute" who serve ZERO purpose to the story? Why spend time developing her relationship with the lawman, the captain, the porter, etc., if only to have her leave the Dreadnought at the end and never see any of them ever again? Why play up the mystery of the yellow sap and the half-dead people if all of us who have read the first book know exactly what's going on?

I like how Priest does not find it necessary to include romance in her stories, but that doesn't mean there can't be ANY meaningful relationships. Because of this, Mercy did not grow throughout the story. The person she was at the beginning was the exact same person who she was at the end. Which was unfortunate, because with some slight tweaking the Dreadnought could have been a real thrill of a read.
Profile Image for Bradley.
Author 6 books3,969 followers
October 25, 2013
I'm really beginning to enjoy the series for the well-drawn examples of the world of an extremely drawn out American civil war and a time period where technological advances now border on the peculiarly modernish Japanese fascination with huge walking robots. Most fascinating about this novel was the scenes aboard the train with the same name as the novel. I really felt like I was reading a travelogue that just happened to have airship crashes, zombie outbreaks, train chase scenes, and lots of spies. It was a plan dear to read. I never knew a nurse in the civil war could get herself into so much trouble just getting on commercial passenger rail.

Now that I've gone through three novels I'm not complaining as I had complained with the first one. Things don't really require resolution, the way the author is placing us deep into the story as it progresses. It's not about the tying up of loose ends. It's about showing us the world and watching how the characters in it survive or don't. I should have guessed it when we're dealing with zombies, but surprisingly enough, zombies are just for tension in the novels, not the main topic. That's a good thing, by the way. I much prefer to see character novels over a world war z treatment.

I really enjoyed reading about our nurse and her adventure, and I think I enjoyed this one all the better for remembering our erstwhile spy from book 2. It was curious and fascinating to see how we got from point a to point e. I've developed a lot of faith in the writer to know she'll get us where she hints we'll go. I suspect she could draw out some unlikely characters in the future to get some other big things accomplished. (Even if the big things are tangential to the promise of the book.)

On to the next!
Profile Image for Laurel.
497 reviews84 followers
August 14, 2012
Cherie Priest has now entered the category of writers whose works I will buy the day they're released. What I love about all of her work is the characters. They're people I might know. Good, honest if not somewhat flawed people. They work hard, stand up for what is right, and aren't worried about getting their hands dirty. They may also be cranky, reserved, opinionated, or any other number of somewhat negative things. Because they're so believable, I buy in and joyfully follow along with them on their adventures. The world building is excellent, the plot moves briskly; all in all, Cherie Priest writes an excellent adventure story. Highly recommended!
Profile Image for Jason Pettus.
Author 18 books1,279 followers
December 17, 2010
(Reprinted from the Chicago Center for Literature and Photography [cclapcenter.com]. I am the original author of this essay, as well as the owner of CCLaP; it is not being reprinted illegally.)

So it looks like the backlash against steampunk has finally begun in the last year or two; and to all the haters, all I can say is, "Screw you!" A science-fiction subgenre 150 years in the making, turns out that the punk-influenced genre writers of the 1980s and early '90s found a lot to admire in the old gear-and-steam days of the Victorian Age, especially when a recent reinvestigation into history in those years revealed that humanity came very close to actually inventing computers in the mid-1800s, only that society lacked transistors so couldn't get the machine pieces small enough to do anything practical. And so did these writers combine the finery found in actual 19th-century stories by Jules Verne and HG Wells with a modern sensibility and a "what if" sense of whimsy, producing stories in which giant brass-covered mechanical armed spiders save the day in the Crimean War; and so has this concept grown so explosively fast in popularity in the last twenty years, there are those out there who are actually kind of sick of it by now, and wish that the goggled girls in corsets and top hats would just stay home from this year's local sci-fi convention.

But shame on you if you feel this way, I say; because just as others are suckers for moody serial-killer stories, so am I a slavish fan of fanciful Victoriana, and can eat such stuff up with a spoon every day of the week and still want more come Sunday dinner. And man, it doesn't get much better these days than with the work of Cherie Priest, the Seattle-based genre veteran who finally hit major paydirt last year with the nearly perfect Boneshaker (one of my favorite books of the year in 2009, and also one of this year's Hugo nominees for Best Novel), an endlessly inventive book that combines the usual steampunk tropes with a zombie story, a post-apocalyptic one, a first-person-shooter videogame and a John Carpenter movie. Merely part one of an entire coming alt-history series called the "Clockwork Century," through luck and work Priest has gone out and attracted a passionate group of fans, through things like a lively blog and her fangirl love of dressing up for LARP photoshoots; and so has a salivating group of readers been impatiently waiting for volume two of the series, this fall's Dreadnought, making it in good "convention guest of honor" style almost critic-proof, in that it'll be selling well no matter what people like me have to say about it.

And indeed, the news is mixed today when it comes to the new book; because as I'm sure even Priest herself knows, when you start a series like this with a title that is so endlessly clever, it's hard to sustain that cleverness through the entire series, with this second story by its very nature being a bit of a letdown just from the aspect of pure premise. See, the first book is about a mad scientist in Seattle who invents a machine for the Russians that can burrow through ice and mine gold up in Alaska, but that causes an earthquake and rupture in Seattle's underbelly when he tries testing it; and this just happens to release a toxic underground gas that turns people into flesh-eating zombies, which the resource-poor territorial government of the Pacific Northwest doesn't know how to deal with, other than to build a giant 200-foot-high wall around the city limits. So now there's an entire basement population of normal humans who live in sealed-off tunnels there -- sometimes to turn this poisonous gas into a slightly less lethal powder that's become the new opium among drug-addicted Civil War soldiers, and sometimes simply because these people are radical libertarians and want to live someplace where the government literally can't tell them what to do; and so do these people fight with each other, fight against the still-alive mad scientist down in the catacombs with them, and are always on the defensive against the zombie hoard above, all within an entire alt-history USA where the Civil War has dragged into a decades-long Vietnam-like stalemate, and where Texas is still its own independent nation as a result.

Dreadnought, then, from the aspect of a committed fan like me is a real treat, a story that takes place on the opposite side of the country, using what are only vague rumors in the first volume and making them the main milieu of the second, telling the tale of a Florence-Nightingale-type Confederate nurse right down in the front battle line itself, giving us a firsthand view of all the mechanical monstrosities both sides have invented in this steampunky alt-past; the story itself, then, has our hero "Mercy" learning of a sick father (one of the main characters from the first book) who was long thought dead but instead turned out to be one of these subterranean smugglers in Seattle, which leads Mercy on a series of train and zeppelin rides from the hospital in Tennessee where she works all the way across the unsettled US wastelands, while a whole bunch of stuff happens to her on the way, and where what we know as detailed facts in the first volume turn up as unsettling rumors here (namely, that there's a mysterious substance that may or may not be turning people into flesh-eating zombies, and that there may or may not be a group of several hundred such undead roaming the dunes of the desert Southwest).

To a dyed-in-the-wool fan like myself, such a thing is a real delight, two volumes that play an endless game of call-and-response with each other, and that rewards me for being a close reader of both; but to those who aren't natural steampunk fans, this is not one of the exceptions to the genre like the first book but one of the ones that'll make you groan, "What, another of these things?," an unending mishmash of greasy locomotives and and shiny doodads, of people talking funny and concealing futuristic weapons in their frilly petticoats. And that makes Dreadnought in general both what was expected and a slight disappointment; or in other words, mostly just another genre novel, instead of the game-changer that spanks all the other genre novels for being boring little children, exactly like Boneshaker did. And that's why it gets only a limited recommendation today, although I wanted to do a full write-up of it as well, to bring it to the attention of Baker Street Irregulars like me who are sure to love it, a title that like hundreds of other SF titles each year certainly isn't bad at all, but that most likely will not be winning any awards of its own, or get breathlessly commended by Amazon or Cory Doctorow like the first book in the series did. It should all be kept in mind before picking up a copy yourself.

Out of 10: 8.4
Profile Image for Karissa.
3,916 reviews192 followers
December 30, 2010
Dreadnought is the third book in the Clockwork Century series by Priest. All of the books are separate adventures in the sames universe, so they can be read alone or together. There are five total books planned for this series with the fourth, Ganymede, being released in fall of 2011 and the fifth, Inexplicable, being release in the fall of 2012. This was another great addition to this series; I love the world Priest has created and it was a great read.

Mercy is a nurse on the Confederate side of the war and has just found out that her husband (who fought on the Union side of the war) has died in a POW camp. Immediately after learning this she receives notice that her father (whom she has not seen since she was a little girl) is very sick, is in Seattle, and is requesting her presence. Mercy decides to make the cross-country trip to the west to see her father knowing it will be a long journey. Little does she know her journey will take her through the air by dirigible, through the front-lines of the war, and onto a fabulously dangerous ride on the train Dreadnought.

This story is about Mercy's journey and the adventure she goes through to get where she's going. Mercy (like all of Priest's protagonists) is a tough as nails woman who does what she needs to do to get through life. She uses her nursing skills to help those in need and to get herself through tough times. She is a very capable, lovable, and honest protagonist. The characters Mercy meets in her travels are all very human, complex, and interesting to read about. I am always thrilled with how well Priest is able to give life to even small side characters.

The world of the Clockwork Century is amazing; you have a world stuck in Civil War long beyond what actually happened, strange steampunk devices created to make life easier (and more dangerous), and a strange zombie-like disease stalking the coasts of the country. It is creative, believable, and absolutely engaging.

Priest's writing style is just all around wonderful; she is an excellent writer. She balances out everything so well; description, action, world-building...every book I have read of hers so far is a joy to read and this book follows that trend.

There is a ton of action scenes in this book and they are interesting action scenes; taking place on crashing dirigibles, speeding war trains, etc. This book ties in more with Boneshaker than Clementine (the 2nd book in the series did). We get to see some of the original characters from Boneshaker interacting with Mercy towards the end of the book and the mysterious things that Mercy uncovers on her journey west also coincide with some of the incidents that happened in Boneshaker.

My only complaint with this book is that I thought Mercy's journey was a bit more drawn out than it needed to be and there were a couple parts of the book that got a bit slow for me. Because of this I liked both Boneshaker and Clementine slightly more than this book; still this book was a wonderful read.

Overall another great addition to this series. Priest is definitely a top-notch writer and I look forward to reading her next two books in this series; Ganymede and Inexplicable. Priest is also starting an urban fantasy series next year; the first book in it is Bloodshot and I will definitely be picking that book up as well.
Profile Image for Jack.
Author 4 books129 followers
August 13, 2014
What do you get when you combine a bit of "Murder on the Orient Express", a dash of old Hammer Horror movies, a slightly larger dash of modern zombie sensibilities, a sizeable helping of movies like "Open Range" and "Tombstone", and generous portions of freshly sliced Steampunk?

You get Dreadnought, the third book in Cherie Priest's ongoing "Clockwork Century" tale! And what a book it is! There's a bit of everything going on in this particular novel (except for romance), and it all adds up to a sum greater than its parts. Action, adventure, sleuthing, horror, mystery, and a bit of North vs. South ruminations are all skillfully woven into a compelling narrative, with nurse Mercy Lynch smack in the middle of it.

For this outing, the entire tale is told from one 3rd person perspective, that of the aforementioned Vinita "Mercy" Lynch. And honestly, it does the tale wonders. My gripe about the lack of character background in the previous novel has been thoroughly addressed here. By spending all our time with just the one character, we are allowed to learn that much more about her; her motivations, fears, hopes, and overall character. This made for a much more relateable heroine, and therefore a more enjoyable read.

Mercy is naturally stubborn and brave, though she tends to surprise herself with latter at times. As a nurse, she's seen plenty of terrible wounds, but the horror elements she meets as the tale unfolds truly frighten and confound her. She is surrounded by various supporting characters that help flesh out the story, and to help propel her into various encounters and events that test her courage and her wits. From the gruff, stubborn and shrewd Texas lawman to the opinionated, but inquisitive and equally stubborn Miss Clay, Mercy is never lacking for interesting companions.

As for the elements listed in the first paragraph, they are all here in roughly equal measure, and all seem to work equally well. The mysterious cargo that the train is transporting is handled well, though most readers will probably figure it out before the reveal. The action scenes are taut, vicious, and largely unpredictable. The missing Mexican troops are used to great effect, and the sense of urgency escalates as the "Dreadnought" gets closer and closer to its destination. The Utah scenes were also fun, simply by the virtue that I happen to live in Utah, so the locations are familiar to me.

Though it started out somewhat slow, Dreadnought only got better and better as it went, culminating in a well deserved and very satisfying conclusion. And yes, characters from other books do make an appearance, in a way that isn't obtrusive or unbelievable. So prior reading of the previous books, while not mandatory, is HIGHLY encouraged.

I daresay that this is my favorite "Clockwork Century" book so far, and has set a very high standard that I hope the following books can attain.
Profile Image for Christine.
6,614 reviews478 followers
October 28, 2016
There is something about train journeys. It isn’t just the “romance” of the journey, but the ability to sit back, relax and watch the word. You see and appreciate, the key here, the views and vistas that you pass by. Stories that take place on train journeys should capture some of this.
Dreadnought, sadly, doesn’t. It wants to feel like one of those old Western train movies but it falls flat, in part because there is no real sense of urgency.
The novel opens quite well with Mercy working in Clara Barton’s infantile Red Cross hospital during an everlasting American Civil War. She receives word that her estranged father wants to see her before he dies. It is this opening section with the hospital and treatment of the wounded that really shines. The characters are well defined and drawn. You care even about the wounded that appear for a brief time.
Sadly this does not translate to the travel part of the book. In part, the reader keeps waiting for something to happen, even though things are happening. It is hard, difficult, to keep some of Mercy’s traveling companions straight. It just makes you want to watch a good Western or read Dreadful Skin.
So why three stars? Well, really 2.5. Because despite the problems, the reader does like Mercy and Miss Clay, the only other character to stand out in Mercy’s journey. Furthermore, the idea of zombies being linked to drugs that runs in this series is worth it.
This entire review has been hidden because of spoilers.
Profile Image for Jason.
1,179 reviews256 followers
April 20, 2011
4.5 Stars

This is a very different book from the first two in the Clockwork Century series. This is a tight, fast paced, and narrow story about a nurse named Mercy making her way across a civil war torn country.

Mercy is a strong and likable protagonist who is brave and good at her job as a nurse. She gets the news that her husband, whom she hs not been seen for over 2 years has died in a prison camp. Meanwhile, her estranged father has contacted her about needing to see her because he is on his death bed.

This is a true steam punk novel and old style western about a very long train ride. The elements of war, the aspects of our civil war, and the strength of Mercy makes this novel work. I loved the first twenty percent that involved the crashed dirigible, crazy war machines, and injured leaders.

I could read books like this all day, every day. The story, the writing, nd the characters make for really great escapism. My only gripe is that I did not want this one to end and would have welcomed a few hundred more pages.

This book does in the end, effectively bring together the story line of Boneshaker and leaves the story open for much more to come. I highly recommend this for those looking for a good steam punk series.
Profile Image for Andrew Neal.
Author 3 books8 followers
September 4, 2011
Looks like I skipped the second book, but as each one focuses on a different character that doesn't seem to matter.

Anyway, I liked this better than the first one. I thought it was a fun, light read, and I liked the main character. Even considering that, I had two problems with the book, but they weren't enough to ruin it:

1. The explanation of how in the midst of this seemingly never-ending civil war, almost all the southern states had freed their slaves just seemed way off to me. I mean, I'm a white dude from North Carolina, so I'd love to imagine that my state was just a hair away from freeing its slaves, but you know what? I can buy an army of but I just can't buy that. Call me cynical, but it felt like a detail stuck in there to make it okay for people who hate slavery to enjoy this book, set during the civil war, and starring a southern character. It's not my alternate history, it's Cherie Priest's, but that was my reaction.

2. Regarding the aforementioned : They just appeared out of nowhere because it was time for them to appear. Oh crap, we're four chapters from the end? Well, here they are.

Anyway. It was fun. I just had issues with it. I think I'll go back and read the second one.
Profile Image for Maggie K.
471 reviews120 followers
September 22, 2015
this could have been so much better! A great concept laid low a slanted civil-war view, tons of unnecessary description and stereotyped characters.
Profile Image for Jim Gorman.
183 reviews8 followers
January 27, 2020
This was an enjoyable little story that I finally got around to finishing off this weekend. I read the first in the series, Boneshaker, but you have not had to have read that before this one, although it does help a little at the end of the book. But that is not necessary. I enjoyed it, but just had other books pop up and push this on back a bit.

The story is about a nurse during the many, many years of the Civil War (not as short as the real one, FYI). She works in a Southern hospital. Her husband went off to fight in the war. He is killed in a POW camp and suddenly she is a widow. Next comes a letter from Oregon that her father is dying and wants to see her. This is the daddy who abandoned her and her mother as a child and never heard from since.

Well Nurse Mercy, not her real name, decides to go West and see this man she barely remembers. She travels by airship, that gets shot down. They crash right on the lines where the fighting has moved to, along a rail line. She sees a mechanical combat machine, and hears Dreadnought in the distance, the Union war train. She helps soldiers and gets to the river where she boards a boat heading up river to take her along the next part of her journey. She finds out more about what is going on and all.

When she reaches her destination she falls into other bits of mystery and action. She helps a young black man who is injured. She helps at a Red Cross shelter and sees a few soldiers who are changed by the Sap, and she gets to her train. This train is the Dreadnaught itself, heading on some mission West, and carrying passenger cars as well. Since this is a Union train she states she is part of the union, lucky since she is from a border state.

Over many days, and a few battles they head further West, being chased later by the Shenandoah, the Southern war train. We get missing Mexican soldiers, a Texas Ranger, more battles and injuries and Mercy becomes one amazing woman before getting to her Daddy. Not to mention what happens if you are exposed to Sap.

I don't want to give more away, but this was a fun read once I was able to devote some time to it. I will definitely pick up some more from this series to read when I can. The author does a good job developing characters, and she really can tell a story that takes me back in time. If you are looking for something new, you can not go wrong with this series of books.

This entire review has been hidden because of spoilers.
Profile Image for Rebecca.
1,214 reviews105 followers
February 14, 2012
Priest follows up on her novel of a steampunk Seattle infested by zombies with this journey across a war-torn continent. Nurse Mercy is a sympathetic and engaging character, and her hard won skills seem ever in demand as one disaster after another befall her. Her own divided loyalties put her in the crossfire of an extended Civil War over and over again. The pacing is brisk, the tension well-established, and many of the secrets she uncovers make a grim sense when considered in light of the previous novel.

While the plot does not strictly require familiarity with the first book, Boneshaker, a lot of the details will not make much sense without it. Mercy may not know the source of the plague, but we do. The fate of the missing Mexican division takes on far more menace when you already know what has happened to them. And there's a bit at the end that I think was supposed to be a surprise, but because I'd forgotten some key character names (I read the last book a year ago), I didn't figure it out until several pages after I was supposed to understand. Without knowing (and caring about) the previous set of characters, the denouement would be baffling and pointless, despite none of those characters appearing until the last twenty pages.

I very much enjoyed the experience of reading this book--it's quite entertaining--and I wanted to give it a higher rating than I did. But there are a number of gaping plot holes that I just couldn't get around. I still liked it, but it's rather unfortunately flawed.

Spoilers below.

- The biggest question is why Mercy stays on the damn train to begin with. There's a bit of handwaving here and there, but really--she knows that they're a target, she knows she's going to be placed in an untenable position, and eventually she knows that she's driving into an area that's infested with ravenous undead that terrify and nauseate her. Almost everyone else gets off the train and is given alternate tickets to their respective destinations. Why doesn't she? I do realize that she's in a hurry because of her father--but the trains seem to run every few days. With a journey that takes weeks, would a few days really make that much of a difference, compared with the strong possibility of being shot by her own side, or shot as a spy by the people she's traveling with, or eaten? I also realize that she feels a vague responsibility to provide medical help, given that everyone she meets seems to have conveniently misplaced their doctors. But again, this doesn't seem to outweigh the fairly easy-to-see disaster barrelling down the track at her. She doesn't actually owe these people anything--the ranger is untrustworthy, the captain might well have her shot if he figures out what she is, the entire train is dedicated to a mission that hurts the Confederates, but the Confederates are bent on a course of action that will kill her. If she had wrestled with these and bravely chosen, I might be willing to concede the point. But instead, she just kind of goes along for undefined reasons.

- Also, why are there never any doctors around, when they're supposed to be standard? Suspiciously convenient.

- Why does no one know what happened to Seattle? I guess I can understand a random nurse on the front of a Civil War that's lasted 20 years not much caring about a disaster in a city on the other side of the continent. But you would think that if an entire city was turned into a disaster zone filled with ravening zombies nearly two decades ago, this should not be news to, say, the governments of Mexico or Texas. This isn't a minor disaster, this isn't a minor port city, and this isn't a week ago. There should have been plenty of time for the other countries to notice the problem, and it should not be a secret confined to a handful of scientists. You can't hide stuff like this.

- What on earth was Theodora Clay doing on that train? I kept expecting her to turn out to be the spy, or at least a spy. Too much was made of her jerkish behavior and militant stances for her to just be a random passenger.

- If they were so worried about the Shenandoah getting ahead of the Dreadnought and blowing the tracks...why didn't the Dreadnought blow the Shenandoah's tracks? I guess the railroad companies would be upset, but that didn't stop folks from shooting down a civilian dirigible earlier in the book. It's a war. Don't dump the cars, blow the damn tracks.

I won't even call it fridge logic, since it didn't take until I got up to go to the fridge for me to notice the problems. (I spent most of the tense sequence as the Shenandoah pulls up chanting "Blow the tracks, blow the tracks" in my head.) It's a pity--while the overall plot is compelling, key spots work solely because the plot requires them to, not because they make sense. It's still a fast-paced, entertaining read, but regrettably flawed.
This entire review has been hidden because of spoilers.
Profile Image for Kristin  (MyBookishWays Reviews).
601 reviews205 followers
January 7, 2012
You may also read my review here: http://www.mybookishways.com/2012/01/...

Mercy Lynch is working as a war nurse in Virginia when she gets two instances of bad news in a couple of days. The first is that her husband (who she only knew a short time before he went off to war), has been killed, and the second is that her father (who left when she was very young) is gravely ill and is asking for her. She decides, against all of her better instincts, to make the journey to Washington to visit the father she never knew, and possibly get answers about why he left. Eventually she boards a train, attached to which is a war machine called the Dreadnought. Aboard the train with her are soldiers, a Texas Ranger, Mexican investigators, and plenty of intrigue. The train is carrying more than just passengers, and Mercy is determined to find out just what is causing bushwackers and other unsavory types’ increasingly alarming interest in the cargo. Then there are the zombies…

I have to admit, I adored Boneshaker (Clockwork Century #1), but had a little trouble getting into Clementine (Clockwork #2), so I decided to move on to Dreadnought (yeah, I know…mutter, mutter). First and foremost, I enjoyed Mercy Lynch. She’s tough. She’s resourceful. Plus, she doesn’t mind uttering a few curse words (*gasp*) every now and then! I mean, she’s a war nurse for goodness sakes! She’s pretty much seen it all and really doesn’t take nonsense from anyone. Dreadnought chronicles her cross country adventure, starting with a doomed airship ride to a train ride from hell (including some unthinkable cargo.) A group of Mexicans (a really, really large group) has gone missing, and this is just one of the mysteries that will be explored in this book. We get intrigue, war machines, battlefield excitement, gold!!, and one awesome heroine that you’ll love to root for. I did mention the zombies too, right? Ms. Priest’s alternate history is always a fun place to visit, and even though I didn’t enjoy this one quite as much as Boneshaker, it’s still well worth your time (and money-try to pick up a physical copy if you can, it’s gorjus.) If you enjoy Civil War intrigue, steampunk flare, and plenty of adventure, you’ll love Dreadnought!
Profile Image for Stacey.
266 reviews449 followers
January 22, 2011
There are some writers who speak directly to my thought patterns. I love the cadence of their writing, the storyline progression, concepts, characterizations. They write people that reflect a little bit of me – the way I see myself, or the way I want to see myself.

Cherie Priest writes people. Yes, she writes zombies and dirigibles, soldiers, and poison gas... but she also writes deliciously complicated women, who are forced to live up to their potential, whether they want to do it, or not. And maybe they're proud of what they accomplished, or maybe it's just the next thing that happened to them. She might tell us... or not.

Dreadnought is an unusual story. Once again, we're visiting the Clockwork Century by means of an odyssey. Mercy Lynch starts her adventure because somebody asks her, she's tired of where she is at the moment, and she doesn't have a good reason to say no. In fact, she has only the barest of good reasons to say yes.

Most of the time, I prefer my “for fun” novels to have a proportionate beginning, middle and end. Dreadnought is ALL middle. It has a beginning that's little more than a set-up, and a teeny little ending that gives us a teeny bit more ending for one of the characters in Boneshaker (yay!) but in this case, it just works. It's like one of the classic chase movies – Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid, The Great Train Robbery, or Cool Hand Luke.

These are people who drift into quickly unfolding action, and they have to react. Maybe they change and grow, and maybe they don't, but things still happen. At the end you know they have to be changed, they just have to. And like the movies, you might want to know “what happened next,” (well, except for the part where some of the characters are dead, heh,) but still, there was an ending, and it was satisfying, kind of, and when is the next book coming?

Because ultimately, there are just some writers who strike exactly the right chords in your mind, and nearly anything they write becomes pure pleasure to read. For me, Dreadnought strikes those chords.
Profile Image for Andromeda M31.
187 reviews4 followers
July 25, 2011
Dreadnought details the journey of a young Civil War Nurse from one coast of America to the other. As this is an alternate history, steam punk inspired book, this travel entails dirigibles, diesel or steam powered mecha, deadly armored trains, and zombies. The Civil War has been waged for 15 years in this universe, and was not, as you would have supposed, fought over Slavery, but State's Rights.

I haven't read the other books in the series, and perhaps that's my mistake. The reason for the long term duration of the Civil War is never explained, and slavery is never brought up until a hundred pages in when Nurse Mercy meets a black woman on a train. I felt that was a really glaring error and spoiled the first half of the book for me. Maybe it's too PC for me to expect any Civil War story to have black characters.

I wasn't filled with awe, nor did I tremble with fear during the descriptions of these secret-weapon locomotives, because well, they're TRAINS. Blow up the track. Done.

Although there's lots of action, and Nurse Mercy undergoes increasingly bizarre adventures, the book drags. The climax to the over arching mystery that follows Mercy through out her journey is as obvious as a freight train. Mercy is intelligent and spunky, but she doesn't seem to have much of a personality beyond her willingness to curse in extreme situations. And as there are no other consistent characters throughout her story, it's hard to care how the story will end.

The last quarter of the book has a pretty enthusiastic train race and shootout, but there's no emotional punch to the end of the story, and Mercy walks in to what feels like the next book of the series in the final pages. There's no emotional impact when she meets her father, and the author cuts the scene off abruptly. After all, that's not what the book was about, it was about the setup for the NEXT book. Only, I don't actually care to see how this Civil War works itself out, because there were no characters for me to care about in THIS book.
Profile Image for Kim .
434 reviews17 followers
November 10, 2010
This was a fantastically page-turning read. It is a sequel to the excellent Boneshaker and yet a book that introduces a new heroine and takes place almost entirely out of sight of the setting of the first book. Mercy Lynch, the main character, is a nurse at a Confederate hospital during the ongoing (for 20 years now) Civil War. Her husband has just died fighting for the Union and she gets a summons to Seattle to visit her estranged father on his death bed. So she has to travel across country during a war by airship, steamboat, and train. There's one problem and excitement and danger after another. The constantly shifting cast of surrounding characters is both enchanting and overwhelming. All things done, this is a fantastic adventure novel, but I wish the author spent more time on the characters and the interpersonal stuff. Such great characters beg to be seen in more depth. (I'm particularly interested in the Republic of Texas Ranger.) And I haven't even mentioned the zombies. I'm dying to see where this series goes next. It's certainly the best steampunk literature I've yet read.
Profile Image for Sarah.
Author 108 books728 followers
August 15, 2011
A rollicking steampunk adventure, with all of the trappings of the genre and a great heroine to boot. I thought this one was well paced and focused and benefited from Mercy's single point of view. I'm finding it hard to say if I liked this one or the first one better.
Profile Image for Rob.
521 reviews36 followers
October 16, 2010
...Following up on such a successful first book is always challenging. I think Priest delivered an even stronger novel with Dreadnought. It combines the setting, steampunk elements and zombies that made the first novel such a fun read but also manages to expand the reader's view of her alternate history. It's one of those book that will keep you reading just because the excitement of the story never lets up. I liked Boneshaker a lot, I absolutely loved Dreadnought. I can't wait for the next Clockwork Century novel, Ganymede, which unfortunately for me, is not expected until the fall of 2011.

Full Random Comments review
Profile Image for Carolyn F..
3,389 reviews51 followers
February 9, 2016

I was listening to this book thinking as I was going along, "Oooh, that's the guy she ends up with, oh wait nope." Then, "No, I was wrong, this is the guy she ends up with." Nope, this is not a romance book at all unlike the first one and I didn't mind. I loved, loved, loved the ending. Can't wait to see what happens to them next!
Profile Image for Erika.
258 reviews23 followers
December 17, 2010
I am reviewing a copy provided by the publisher.

Originally posted at: http://jawasreadtoo.wordpress.com/201...

Vinita Lynch is a nurse for the Confederate army (known as “Mercy” to her patients), working at Richmond hospital in Virginia with a relatively good reputation for keeping its patients alive. With such a high survival rate, it’s little reason she barely has time to rest, let alone consider the husband she hasn’t seen in over a year. An unexpected telegram with news of his death and a request for her presence in Washington changes that. Washington is outside the bounds of the country—all wild territory still being claimed by frontier settlers.

It’s the home of her estranged father who finds himself near death and calling for the daughter he abandoned long ago; it’s also far away from anything she’s ever considered home. With the fresh burden of widowhood falling awkwardly and strangely nightmarish on her shoulders, Mercy makes her way West. There will be an unforgettable dirigible flight, a mad train, a bizarre mystery, and the oddest combination of gun-slinging characters ready for roaring adventure to introduce Mercy to the new life she’ll lead in Seattle.

Dreadnought is the third Clockwork Century book by Cherie Priest and, in my opinion, the most polished of the bunch. The writing is at its most acutely observational; the dialogue affects the most convincing variety of personalities from across young America; and the plot offers yet another adventure story that’s hard to put down. It’s a rollicking and dangerous train ride across the country, as much mystery as it is fantasy with shades of horror thrown in for fun. With references to both Boneshaker and Clementine, this latest installment in the series combines an intimate look at the Civil War and a portrait of early American diversity while continuing to gather a mixture of elements and components of previous novels to coalesce into a rather satisfying read. This isn’t just a suspenseful and exciting thriller, it also has characters with real heart and the kind of grit that serves them well in their roughened frontier and war-torn environment.

The protagonist, Mercy Lynch, is brave, determined, and resourceful. Priest always writes the most interesting, competent, and intelligent female characters (I mustn't forget the enigmatic Theodora Clay)—writing from the point of view of a nurse means readers experience Mercy’s courageousness first hand. She may not like what has to be done, but she’s trained to be practical and deal with difficult situations with a firm calmness and reassuring, yet often times pragmatic perspective. It isn’t resignation that motivates her, but a desire to move forward (and this is a very transitory novel, but it’s the transition, the journey, that’s the most important). That kind of open, no-nonsense approach makes her a great protagonist against the rife suspicion and racism of the time. The attitude also serves her well as a hands-on heroine willing to do whatever needs doing, squeamish or not, when the need arises. As you can imagine in a Cherie Priest novel, it arises fairly often.

Mercy faces one bad turn of events after another. A bad news telegram, a dirigible crash, a stay at an inn with a dangerous secret—a peaceful, if long train ride is just the thing she has to look forward to. Of course, this isn’t that kind of novel. Mercy just isn’t that lucky. She is, however, very good at surviving. Living in a country where the Civil War has been prolonged for a couple of decades sort of demands resilience. Having the kind of resolve that allows one to punch a zombie in the face on reflex definitely means Mercy has strong resilience. Suffice to say, reading how Mercy and her fellow passengers try to survive is every bit as riveting as the action itself.

Knowing that zombies are somehow related to the plot doesn’t take away the feeling of giddy anxiety I had when the characters slowly cotton on to certain mysterious, unexplained events and begin piecing together a slow and measured portrait of what may or may not be happening aboard the Dreadnought. Normally the slower, more realistic timescale allowed to fictitious characters to grasp at the clues we, as readers, are staring so obviously in the face, would be a slow irritant. In the capable hands of Cherie Priest, the steady realization that dawns on Mercy between what’s on her train, how it affects other passengers, and what may lay ahead, is mixed in a very satisfying combination that juggles reactions in a way that’s both completely believable and within the scope of their characters.

What I mean to say is, knowing what something like sap really does to addicts doesn’t take away the suspense of waiting for Mercy and others to figure it out for themselves. I wanted them to arrive at the truth (it’s vital to the plot structure as well), but I also utterly believe in these folks as individuals rather than just tools in a story. As such, I was pleased when they arrived at their own conclusions in ways quite natural to their characters. That connection between reader and character is one of the things Cherie Priest does marvelously in her writing. It’s one of the things that keeps me coming back to read more of her books, especially those in The Clockwork Century series.

One last part of this book that impressed me so much, was how Priest managed race relations. She doesn’t dwell on the issue, but rather fills the narrative with the periodic suspicion and unflattering attitudes of other characters (like the tension between the train passengers and the Mexican officials aboard or the absurd protocol involved in helping a well to do former slave) without letting it overshadow the main plot of the story. Having race be within the scope of Priest’s tale, yet outside of the main focus allows Dreadnought to be something other than a Steampunk contemplation on period stereotyping and racism. It would be a completely different story otherwise.

I’ve been very pleased with how Cherie Priest is filling out the world she’s created in these books. Several different characters have led us through incredible journeys across America that might seem disparate, but are proving to be fundamentally cohesive. Loosely related though they all may be, the Clockwork Century books have an elasticity that allows for individual reads as well as a more linear approach: read them separately or read them in order of publication—either method will work fine. Personally, I recommend them being read in the order of release, but I think that comes from the experience of doing that myself and the richness I feel from the series as a result. In any case, these books are fun and dark and more than a little addicting. I can’t wait for the next one.
Profile Image for Benjamin.
Author 19 books24 followers
April 8, 2018
For the most part, the book series I have read progress the story from one book to another. I get that there are some series with the same character in different predicaments for each book, but jumping from one character to another in each different book is an interesting tactic. Of course, I’m somewhat guilty of this, as  The Fluxion Trilogy  focuses on different characters for each book. As far as I can tell, The Clockwork Century series also does this, even if the connections between the characters are flimsy at best. Even so, the plot seemed to take a step backward from  Boneshaker  to Dreadnought.

One of my qualms with Boneshaker was that there wasn’t a lot of world-building that established what this alternate-reality Seattle was like in the scheme of the broader United States. Dreadnought solves this problem by giving the main character an opportunity to travel across the country, thus establishing some of the world-building in the process. In fact, there were a few points where I wondered if I had picked up the first book in the series, only to confirm that Dreadnought was the second book. Unfortunately, I thought the plot of Boneshaker was a little more believable since the cross-country trek in Dreadnought seemed like an obvious ploy by the author to introduce the world to the reader.

I certainly appreciated the thinking that went into the consequences of a decades-long Civil War, but I still think the “zombie” angle of this series seems out of place. I get that steampunk is the combination of some more modern technologies in a Victorian era, but the zombie genre seems so modern that combining the two never really gelled for me. Plus, through the plots of two books, I feel like I’m no closer to understanding where the gas that creates the zombies originates, or if there’s even an endgame to the zombie situation.

A book that should have come first in the series, I give Dreadnought 3.5 stars out of 5.
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For more reviews of books and movies like this, please visit www.benjamin-m-weilert.com
Profile Image for BookishStitcher.
1,104 reviews47 followers
September 28, 2017
This is the second novel in a fun series that is a steampunk reimagining of the civil war. In this series, Priest draws a different map of America with Texas being it's own country and the North and South stop before West of Utah. The west is considered a vast wilderness. The North and South have been in an embittered civil war for generations.

In this book, Mercy, who is a nurse in a southern hospital, receives a message that her estranged father is dying up west in Seattle. She leaves her job, and begins the journey west to meet him. On this trip she encounters one crazy thing after the next. She discovers an enormous undercover secret weapon that the North is hoping to use to win the war. It's lots of fun, and the writing is pretty good too.

Imagine steampunk, zombies, war machines, civil war reimaginings, and so much more.
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