The fourth story in the Clockwork Century series.

Publication year: 2011
Format: Audio
Publisher: Audible
Narrator: Edoardo Ballerini
Running Time: 12 hrs and 9 minutes

Josephine Early runs a bordello house in New Orleans. She, and all of her girls, are of mixed race and she knows very well how precarious her position is. Not surprisingly, she supports the Union. However, for years now New Orleans has been a occupied city. The city was first conquered by the Union because of the port and the river but then it was reconquered by Texas which is still occupying it. The locals don’t like the Texans at all but few can do anything about the situation. Josephine if one of those few.

She’s a spy for the Union and she’s involved in other plots, as well. Her brother runs with the local pirates and her pet project is the Ganymede, a war ship that sails underwater. However, she needs a crew she can rely on and who are brave enough to sail the Ganymede. The previous crews drowned. Her last chance is an old lover whom she hasn’t seen in ten years: Andan Cly. And then there’s the zombie problem.

Andan Cly is thinking about settling down. He’s almost respectable now; running supplies to the underground city of Seattle instead of pirating. He’s also met a spirited woman who is another reason to settle down. He agrees to make a supply run for the city’s de facto ruler, Jaychoo (spelling?), and others when he receives a telegram from Josephine and decides to go to New Orleans to see her, perhaps for the last time.

I was a bit hesitant to get this book because of the many mixed reviews around. However, Ganymede was just as fun as the previous books and I was glad I bought it. The story has a mix of old and new characters. While the story starts in New Orleans with new characters, it moves quickly to Seattle, where we meet most of Boneshaker’s cast and Mercy from the previous book. This was great. We also get information about the giant machines which keep the air in the underground city breathable; they’re old and haven’t been repaired or serviced for a long time. I will be hugely surprised if Priest doesn’t follow this up in some next book.

The zombies have spread from Seattle to the rest of the US even though most folks don’t yet believe they exist. Cly and his small crew know about them, so they have no problem fighting the rotters.

Unfortunately, the story had some problems as well. There’s a continuity mistake with Cly and Mercy. They appear to meet for the first time in this book.. except that Cly flew Mercy to Seattle in Dreadnought. I was also left wondering why the underwater ship didn’t have any sailors in the crew. I also thought that Cly agreed to sail the Ganymede a bit too easily considering that the previous crews had all died. I also liked Kate Reading’s narration a lot better than Ballerini’s. I would have preferred it if he hadn’t tried to make female voices. Unfortunately, he apparently didn’t know anything about Angeline or about Lucy O’Gunning because their voices are pretty similar to the prostitutes. (In Boneshaker it was established that Angeline has a damaged throat so she doesn’t sound like a “normal” woman.)

The characters are again great. Josephine is a resourceful woman in the early forties (yes, forties!). She carries a gun and is fully aware of the dangers in all of her professions. She’s also very protective of her underlings and her brother, and she passionately wants Texas out of her city. Her ladies are all practical and have their own quirks.

Cly is equally protective of his crew and he’s also a very capable man. He thinks a bit about his former life with Josephine but thankfully doesn’t angst about it. One of his crewmen is out of Seattle for the first time and Cly acts as a sort of mentor and father figure to him.

This was more uneven than the previous stories but I’m eagerly waiting for the next book.