This is the most recent instalment in Cherie Priest’s Clockwork Century sequence, and like the previous ones it has a one-word title that refers to a big piece of advanced machinery – this time round it is a submarine, which has to be smuggled through the Confederate lines and handed over to the Union to give them an edge in the Civil War and hopefully end it (the American Civil War has been going on for decades in Priest’s alternative history universe). The Ganymede does not appear quite as central to the plot as the devices in earlier volumes, and I generally had the impression that this novel was meandering noticeably. Possibly connected to that might be that it is also less self-contained – there is a lot of buildup towards the bigger picture (sap and the rotters, the ongoing war) but not much resolved at all. It is not that Ganymede is dragging, it is just as rollicking a romp as the previous novels, it just seems to be somewhat lacking in purpose and for that I’m inclined to think it the weakest of the lot yet. Still – I do not know of anyone who captures the giddy, exuberant spirit of a rousing yarn, the heart-pounding excitement of adventurous derring-do quite the way Cherie Priest does, and for that Ganymede (as indeed all of her Clockwork Century series) is strongly recommended, not just for steampunk aficionados. Plus, it has a middle-aged woman of colour as its heroine – you don’t see that much in genre fiction, and more’s the pity.