Dreadnought (Clockwork Universe 3) by Cherie Priest [Book Review]

Cherie Priest just rubs me the right way; Boneshaker, her first novel opened the curtain for a little peek into her world of wonderful Steampunk zombies and airships while Clementine was a fast paced but short chase on a straight line. This time Cherie takes us on a journey across the whole North American continent on airship, riverboat and on an armored train called the Dreadnought. It is a good way to show us what is happening in the big picture.

The civil war has been going on for 20 years and Texas is an independent country in this universe and the protagonist, Mrs. Vinita ‘Mercy’ Lunch is a nurse at a war hospital in Richmond Virginia when she receive words of her husband’s death in a P.O.W. camp and a message that her father who she has not seen since she was a kid is gravely injured and wishes to see her before he dies.

She decides to take a leap of fate and cross the continent for a chance to reconcile with him. It is not easy for a woman to travel alone but Cherie do strong women well. Many interesting and educational situations arise from this. Mercy handle herself well in most situations but she is by no means perfect. One of the things I like here is the way she deals with men, as an adult grown independent woman.

The pacing is good with a bit of thrill in the beginning when the airship crash landed in a battlefield and then it builds up speed to an explosive conclusion.

A few of the things that happened in the story seemed to be a bit arbitrary like when they sneaked over the roof and into that train car? I never really got the motivation for Mercy’s companion for doing that.

We also slowly learn about a mystery. A Mexican army force of five hundred men or so has disappeared without a trace in Texas and an undercover Texas Ranger on a mission to find out what really happened joins her on the journey. They are also joined by two Mexican officials later.

She being a rebel on a Union train on a secret mission loaded with civilian and military passengers most with their own agendas makes it so much more interesting, especially with the murders, sabotages, secret agents and traitors.

All Clockwork Century novels so far are stand alone with a few character in common with the rest here you have to wait until the end of the book for the connection.

I really enjoyed Dreadnought, Mercy is Cherie’s most compelling protagonist so far and I hope we get to see more of her in the next novel (Ganymede scheduled for fall/winter 2011).


Title: Dreadnought
Series: Clockwork Universe book 3
Author: Cherie Priest
Genre: Steampunk
Publisher: Tor (2010)

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Nurse Mercy Lynch is elbows deep in bloody laundry at a war hospital in Richmond, Virginia, when Clara Barton comes bearing bad news: Mercy’s husband has died in a POW camp. On top of that, a telegram from the west coast declares that her estranged father is gravely injured, and he wishes to see her. Mercy sets out toward the Mississippi River. Once there, she’ll catch a train over the Rockies and—if the telegram can be believed—be greeted in Washington Territory by the sheriff, who will take her to see her father in Seattle.

Reaching the Mississippi is a harrowing adventure by dirigible and rail through war-torn border states. When Mercy finally arrives in St. Louis, the only Tacoma-bound train is pulled by a terrifying Union-operated steam engine called the Dreadnought. Reluctantly, Mercy buys a ticket and climbs aboard.

What ought to be a quiet trip turns deadly when the train is beset by bushwhackers, 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 they’re so interested. Perhaps the mysterious cargo secreted in the second and last train cars has something to do with it?

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.

Other Reviews

Clockwork Century
1. Boneshaker (Tor)
2. Clementine (Subterranean Press 2010)