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The end of the world as we know it makes for an exciting wrap-up to Priest's epic alternate steampunk series, which began with Boneshaker. The U.S. Civil War has continued for 20 years because an inventor knocked out Seattle with his Boneshaker engine and stirred up a poisonous gas that is still creating zombies. In Washington, DC, Gideon Bardsley's new Fiddlehead computational engine has just predicted that the zombies will eventually destroy the human race if the North and South don't make peace and immediately eradicate the threat. But evil profiteers want to continue the war by spreading the zombie plague and forcing Europe to enter the conflict on the side of the otherwise battle-weakened Confederate States of America. It's a diabolical plan that just might work. VERDICT This is a compelling finale to a fantastic series. The good guys are complex and sympathetic; the villains are suitably clever and malign. The action rattles along at breakneck speed, and the reader can't resist coming along for the wild ride, which includes a climactic battle featuring a wheelchair-bound Abe Lincoln and a temporarily sober Ulysses S. Grant. Highly recommended for all readers of fantasy and steampunk.-Marlene -Harris, -Seattle P.L. (c) Copyright 2013. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.
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Priest's final Clockwork Century novel (after The Inexplicables) wraps things up nicely, once again turning a mash-up of too-worn genre tropes (steampunk, alternate Civil War, zombies) into a work of entertainment laced with social criticism. In 1879, as the Civil War continues to rage, scientist and ex-slave Gideon Bardsley's invention, a massive computer called the Fiddlehead, has predicted that the zombie outbreak from the Northwest will overwhelm both sides if they don't end the war. Working with ex-president Lincoln (long disabled from an assassination attempt), he enlists the Pinkertons, including their agent Belle Boyd, in an attempt to find allies in the South. Meanwhile, amoral businesswoman Katharine Haymes attempts to prolong the war for her own reasons. Priest again throws in a huge cast of characters, and the historical figures (Boyd, Lincoln, Grant) are as interesting as the fictional ones. New readers would benefit from starting at the beginning of the series, but returning fans will be satisfied by the elegant conclusion and will regret that a great series has ended. (Nov.) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved.