16 of 16 people found the following review helpful
Cherie Priest's second long-form entry Clementine in The Clockwork Century world follows a side story from the Hugo nominated Boneshaker (Sci Fi Essential Books), which just happens to be one of my favorite reads from last year. Having read Boneshaker isn't necessary to enjoy Clementine, but it does add to some of the references made.
The story flips between two perspectives which are both uniquely idiosyncratic and well developed in their own right. The stars are airship captain and escaped slave Croggon Hainey and former confederate spy and patriot Maria "Belle" Boyd. Both are something of a living legend or menace in this world depending on what side of the fence your are viewing from. Neither take crap from anyone.
Croggin is chasing after his airship the Free Crow, which was nefariously stolen from him in Seattle. Belle is sent to ensure the Free Crow reaches its destination without Croggin's interference. Belle is actually based on a true person of the same name who acted as a spy for the Confederate army. Priest builds on her history to create a very determined and dangerous character very much true to life. Clementine's greatest strength is the dialog of the main characters. Each has their own style that colors the characters perfectly.
Clementine is a much more subtle story than Boneshaker, but it is no less enthralling as every chapter moves at a brisk pace. Airship fights, spies, thieves, and giant guns all make Clementine a seriously steam-powered wild ride through the sky, which showcases a larger part of Priest's Clockwork Century fractured North America. The war of the North versus the South is still on going in the late 19th century filled with steam-powered weaponry and mad scientist trying to turn the tide of the war one way or the other.
I did feel Cherie had to rein herself in with the book to keep it to novella length as she clearly loves this world and its inhabitants. Hopefully, she'll treat us to more with Belle and Croggin. Belle definitely has an adventure left for here. I kept expecting more of a intimate relationship to develop between Croggin and Belle, but things do seem to have been left open somewhat in that regard. The story arc does complete itself rather well with a fitting culmination and a few surprises along the way. We also learn being a Mad Scientist doesn't necessarily mean they are a bad scientist.
Priest is gives us glimpses of a world that is wide and wild in a story that hardly touches the ground. Clementine shows off the southern flair that Cherie has become famous for, but will please even hardened Steampunk fans with her ingenuity at keeping everything fresh and yet historically stylized. Cherie still has a lot more in store for us in The Clockwork Century including at least two more shorts and the next full length novel Dreadnought, which Tor will be releasing this September. She is definitely earning the moniker as the Queen of Steampunk, but she may have to duel it out with Gail Carriger in some sort of no holds-barred battle royale.
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
on December 15, 2011
Format: HardcoverVerified Purchase
Hainey, a free slave in this alternate version of the late 1800's where the Civil War has dragged out nearly two decades, has a brief but memorable part in Boneshaker. Enough so that I was very much looking forward to reading the story of his stolen ship treated in this sequel. Boneshaker paints him and his zeppelin flying cohorts in the Han Solo, neutral pirate/smuggler vein of character, but what we get here is a little different, and ultimately unsatisfying.
From the start, when Maria is introduced as the Pinkerton detective assigned to reel him in, it is made clear that Hainey has done some bad things to earn his reputation - bad enough that Maria's orders are clear, she may slay him or capture him and return him to the South, whatever she wishes so long as he doesn't get back his stolen ship. These two characters are what the story revolves around, and halfway through they fall flat.
*** SPOILERS ***
Hainey's fall from the reader's grace occurs when he mows down in cold blood a crowd of dockyard workers, men whom are only trying to prevent his crew's theft of a docked zeppelin. He doesn't fire at their feet or scare them into submission, any of the usual tropes we normally indulge an author. It is really hard to sympathize with this character after that point - there's a fine line between Han Solo mowing down Imperials, and a man mowing down innocent dockhands. There is a similar killing of an innocent Chinaman in Boneshaker, and Priest handles that scene and its aftermath very well. She makes it a very revealing moment for both characters involved. Priest breezes past Hainey's murders under the guise of self/crew-defense, and it is simply not consistent with the character we had seen or hoped for up to that point - there is no regret or guilt felt. Priest had hinted that Hainey deserved his reputation, but its ultimately a disappointment to the reader. It was difficult to care about whether or not he got his precious ship back after that point.
Maria is a more consistent disappointment. The book builds up to her showdown with Hainey, and when it happens its smack-dab in the middle of the ship theft, where the two join in the mutual escape with their lives. The resulting truce between them is logical, but the showdown is awkward in many ways and a letdown. Rarely does the author examine Maria's motivations - despite having worked for the Confederacy, you never once hear her thoughts on slavery, or on Hainey and what she would've ultimately done with him, had a certain plot device threatening the South not changed her goals. She comes off very flat and only marginally gains any sympathy as a character, in stark contrast to Briar Wilkes, the mother hellbent on finding her son in Boneshaker. The layers of story just peel off Briar as Boneshaker progresses, ending with a fantastic reveal at the end, but Maria remains an unrewarding cipher from start to finish.
Likewise, there is no reveal for Hainey and the story of his precious Free Crow. He wants it back, that's the story. We learn less than a paragraph about it beyond what we got back in Boneshaker. Speaking of the zeppelins, Priest can be forgiven for glossing over details in the first book where they are a sideline to the story, but Clementine should have painted in that sketch. I still have no idea how to picture these things - are warships entirely armored, including the gas bags? They seem to operate more as jet airships than they do as floating airships, which gets hard to picture. Is the reader really supposed to take seriously a tense scene where a pistol shot from an expert marksman at close range may miss and ricochet to explode the hydrogen tanks, just pages after a scene where a poorly controlled shoulder-mounted Gatling is fired among them? There are similar inconsistencies that mar Boneshaker but here they added up just enough to keep me from buying into the world and enjoying the ride.
5 of 7 people found the following review helpful
on October 1, 2010
Format: Kindle Edition
I just finished reading Clementine by Cherie Priest, which I downloaded and read on my Kindle reader. This was a fun, although short, followup to Boneshaker. Reading Boneshaker is not necessary to enjoy this novel, but it helps to set the context. There are a few characters that will be recognized. The story follows two primary protagonists, Belle Boyd (a former Confederate spy) and Croggon Hainey (an airship pirate who appeared in Boneshaker). The story starts with Hainey pusuing his stolen dirigible, which the thieves have renamed to Clementine. Boyd was just hired by the Pinkerton detective agency, and her mission is to see that the cargo the thieves are transporting arrives at its destination... and, if she so desires, an opportunity to capture Hainey, a fugitive slave whose capture may buy her favor with her former employer, the Confederacy. The two eventually cross paths, and start a wary partnership. It is a great ride. The book is pretty short, but the Kindle price reflects that. I highly recommend reading Boneshaker and folowing it up with this.
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
on September 9, 2012
Format: Kindle EditionVerified Purchase
Clementine is a short novel that takes place in Priest's Clockwork Century universe. Since these are all more shared worlds novels than continuing storylines, it is not necessary to have read the other novels in order to understand Clementine. That being said, the world building of the other novels does add to the enjoyment of this one.
Clementine is a lean, mean adventure novel. While there is a small supporting cast, Priest focuses on two main characters. Pirate Croggon Hainey is determined to get his airship back. He's willing to undertake a violent cross-country chase if that's what it takes. Belle Boyd, former Confederate spy turned Pinkerton agent, is assigned to stop him and make sure that the ship's cargo arrives in Kentucky.
Priest's narrow focus means that the short length of this novel does not work to its detriment. She develops the two protagonists and has plenty of room for their fast paced adventures. The plot moves swiftly, & is surprisingly compelling given its simplicity.
While not as significant as Priest's other Clockwork Century novels, Clementine is an entertaining read and adds more depth & texture to the world she has created.
I really enjoy this series. Clementine is a modern steampunk dime novel with courageous heroes and heroines on the wrong side of the law who get the job done come hell or high water.
It's not YA. There isn't a teenaged hero in this one, so if you were hoping for that, be forewarned. It's also not set in Seattle, but picks up shortly after Boneshaker with new main characters, both around their 40s. I would still say that this would be fine for teen readers who are interested in moving beyond YA books. There is some violence, no sex or romance.
Crog Hainey was a minor character in Boneshaker, but here shares the spotlight with Belle Boyd. They are opposites - he is an escaped slave, one of the Macon Madmen, who stole a Rebel airship and runs guns, drugs, and performs the occasional bank robbery. Boyd is a Southern Belle, Rebel spy, actress, and newest employee of the Pinkertons.
The War Between the States is still raging, with no end in sight. Hainey's ship, the Free Crow, has been stolen and he is chasing it. Boyd's first job with the Pinkerton's is to make sure the Crow (now called the Clementine) makes its destination, which means she must dispatch Hainey. Throw in a weapon of mass destruction, old loyalties, and an unexpected partnership and you have the very fun, action-packed ride that is Clementine.
This was a pretty quick read, but gets us across more of the landscape of The Clockwork Century world. Looking forward to what we'll get to see in book 3.
This book is different from Book 1 and Book 3, mostly becuase it is a limited edition run by a different publisher (that is also why it is so short). I found the full explanation of this on Priest's Clockwork Century FAQ page. So, the hardcovers are hard to come by and very expensive, but it is also available for Kindle.
on November 29, 2010
Format: HardcoverVerified Purchase
First of all, I have to mention how difficult it was to figure out what was up with this book. I checked my book sites when I was starting to read Dreadnought and they all said it was book three in the series. But where's book two?, I wondered. I checked my local library (nope), I checked Barnes and Nobles' site (uh uh) and I checked Amazon (yes, but only if I want to pay fifty bucks for a two hundred page book. A little more research turned up the fact that for some reason Tor did not want to release the second book, so it went somewhere else, thus the lack of availability and the expensiveness. At any rate, since I cannot stand to read series out of order, I purchased the Kindle copy for $2.99, which seems to be the only realistic way to read this book. Crazy!
The story was, as mentioned before, fairly brief. It should not have been in any other way. As it is, it sets and maintains a good pace. It fills a bit of a gap from the first book. It's nice to see an author following a dangling plot thread, rather than leaving you wondering why his ship got stolen in book one other than to give a bunch of airmen a reason to be on the scene in Seattle. Much like in the first book, the characters still lack a bit of depth, but they are slightly improved.
The best thing about Cherie Priest's books though are her kickass women. Maria Boyd, in my opinion, puts the ladies of Seattle to shame, because she is smart, strong and willing to do whatever she has to in order to get her way. Action and gunfights abound and Maria is often right in the middle of them.
Fun bit of wordplay:
"'That's big of you,' Maria said dryly.
'I'm glad you approve,' he responded with equal lack of humidity."
Oh, that's great. Lack of humidity! It's such a terrible joke (which is why I love it)!
A fun second book for the series, quick and easy, like sorbet or crackers to cleanse the palette after a course in a meal or wine tasting.
on October 17, 2011
Format: HardcoverVerified Purchase
Readers of Boneshaker might remember Captain Croggon Beauregard Hainey. In Clementine, he's chasing down the thief who stole his dirigible, Free Crow. Meanwhile, Belle Boyd, an ex-spy for the Confederacy, has been hired by the Pinkerton Agency. Boyd's job is to make sure that Hainey does not stop the dirigible Clementine (the stolen Free Crow) from finishing its mission, but neither Boyd or Hainey knows exactly what the ship has been commissioned to do.
Clementine is a quick read at just under 200 pages. Super fun stuff. Lots of action, dirigibles, shootouts on dirigibles. Belle Boyd is a fabulous character and I loved the addition of the Pinkertons.
on February 13, 2011
Format: Kindle EditionVerified Purchase
While not the epic the other Clockwork Century books have been, here's another excellent read. It's a dead-simple plot, but it's in the characters that CLEMENTINE makes it's mark. There are two "leads" here, and both are complex and interesting, and the relationship that grows between them is rich and natural.
It can't be denied that part of the fun in Priest's books is that she's (consciously or not) creating heroes that have gone criminally under-represented in SF/F in general. Regardless of intent, it certainly feels refreshing.
3 of 5 people found the following review helpful
on August 19, 2010
Last year's Boneshaker was without a doubt Cherie Priest's breakthrough novel. Suffice to say that the book is currently in the running for the Hugo award for best novel, yet that doesn't really tell you anything about why Priest's novel is so good. The author combined many different genres, elements, and settings in a unique way to create one of the most interesting worlds in fiction. This world has been labeled as The Clockwork Century, with at least two more major novels set to be released in this conglomeration of steampunk, zombies, airship pirates, and machines and contraptions that would impress the likes of Jules Verene and Rube Goldberg.
Possibly in a campaign to excite readers about her upcoming Dreadnought, the second major release in The Clockwork Century, the novella Clementine has recently been released, which follows the adventure of a minor character from Boneshaker, Croggon Beauregard Hainey, after his beloved airship has been stolen from him. This theft took place during the action of Boneshaker, so those who are already fans of The Clockwork Century will have much to look forward to (especially as small references are made to the Blighted city of Seattle), but those who have not read the novel will still be able to pick up quickly, especially since we are thrown into the action from the get go.
While standing at only 201 pages in length, Clementine packs a punch and then some. Speckled with riveting action sequences between scenes of espionage and information gathering, there's more to this story than its short page count would suggest. The two main characters, Croggon Hainey, an escaped slave turned wanted criminal (but really an all around good guy and hero of the story) and Maria Isabella Boyd, newly hired detective for the Union sponsored Pinkerton Detective agency charged with taking Hainey out of commission, are smart, confident, and don't take guff from anyone-including each other. Hainey is set upon retrieving his stolen airship through any means necessary (even spitting Gatling gun fire upon those who get in his way) and Boyd, whose loyalties still lie with the Confederacy whom for she used to spy, is cunning and devious yet highly intelligent and isn't adverse to using her "womanly traits" to get what she needs.
Both parties, Hainey along with his crew and Boyd, are sent on a high flying journey through the skies, mostly motivated by the words of various informants, traitors, and spies. The two inevitably cross paths and soon have to come to terms with each other in more ways than one. What makes this novella special is the multi-dimensional thought processes and parameters that these characters have to go through out of necessity. In other words, it is the setting of this world, within a fictionally extended civil war where racism is more than alive, that often shapes how the characters act, think, and make decisions. This built in device allows Priest to add a level of depth to both of her main characters, black or white. For example, the crew has to consider where they land their airship at a certain point in the novel. To land within a certain city's limits and being seen would mean certain death. Furthermore, the three black crewmen being seen with a single white women would instantly incriminate Hainey and his crew. The two sides have to come to terms with these facts, gain each others' trust, and form a bond nonetheless. This ultimately gives a greater depth to the characters, the setting, and the novel in general. This is why the story is so impressive: thrilling action taking place in a setting that forces the characters to come to life and contemplate their actions.
Most of the plot in Clementine gets its forward surge through characters (usually spies or informants) who just seem to happen to know all of the necessary bits of information the characters need to continue on their journeys. But in a book of this size, one which packs the amount of punch that this one does, its seems a necessary device. Sure, it's not full of vivid descriptions and details, and I wouldn't expect it to be in a work of this length, but it's enough to get by and then some. I truly hope to see more of "Dame Boyd" and Captain Hainey in future Clockwork Century releases. The pair has an interesting relationship, and one that continued to develop right up until the end of the novel. While 201 pages may not be quite enough for a romance to develop, I see that as a possibility, albeit one that would have to be taken with care not to fall into a cliched and expected trap.
Boneshaker established Cherie Priest's exciting and wonderful Clockwork Century world and Clementine certainly builds on that dynamic foundation. Dreadnought, the next full length novel in this world is set to be released in late September. One can only hope that the riveting action, strong engaging characters, and exciting plot found in Clementine will make an appearance in that novel as well. Priest is an exciting author who deserves all the praise her books receive.
on June 6, 2014
Format: Kindle EditionVerified Purchase
I liked it but it wasn't the best in the series. Seemed more like a filler novel than part if the story