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Shelf Indulgence

Books. Reviews.

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Aftermath
Chuck Wendig
Dhalgren
Samuel R. Delany
Jackals
Charles L. Grant

Fiddlehead

Fiddlehead - Cherie Priest Though there's one novella following Fiddlehead, this novel brings to a close the events that Priest began with Boneshaker. What began inauspiciously has far exceeded my expectations. As I mentioned in my review of the first book, I'm not a fan of steampunk, but if this series is what steampunk is, then maybe I've made a grave error. On the other hand, it just might be that Cherie Priest is an outstanding writer who could write about anything and make it entertaining. My money's on the latter supposition.

Fiddlehead is probably the most expansive of the books in the series thus far. We see a reprise of characters we've seen before in the series, along with some new ones, but this time we even have Abraham Lincoln and Ulysses S. Grant as characters. The story revolves around ending the Civil War (which has been going on for twenty years now in Priest's alternate history), using a weapon of such destruction that it rivals that of the atomic bomb in World War II. The action surrounds the characters who believe that such a weapon is the only solution, and those who believe that it is no solution at all.

Priest's characterization skills have improved remarkably since the first book, and it's no surprise that here her protagonists are easily likable and sympathetic, while her antagonists are easily despised. There's no questioning loyalties or intentions; her characters are drawn just right. I had predicted in my review of The Inexplicables that another character would feature in this novel, as he had been in the previous two, and while I was right, the character went in a different direction than I would have expected. Priest didn't cheat the way she made that reveal, either; all the hints and foreshadowing she dropped in the other two books supported the way that character came clean in this novel.

In her foreword, Priest writes about how this is the end of her original series, but we already know that she has followed this up with another novella set in that universe. I'll be disappointed when I finish that one (which I expect to start as soon as I finish writing this review), but it sounds like she isn't averse to revisiting this world and its characters. This is a relief, since these stories have been a refreshing taste of what good, entertaining fiction is all about.