‘Fiddlehead’- a computing machine bright enough to ‘fiddle with a man’s head’- brings the story arc started in ‘Boneshaker’(still my favorite of the series, especially now that there is a huge digging machine stuck under Seattle)to a close; hopefully it’s not the end of Priest’s steampunk, alternative history Clockwork Century world as well. The zombies that we first saw in ‘Boneshaker’ are explained and sorted, and the prolonged (20 years) American Civil War brought to a close. The characters we’ve been introduced to through the series have a chance of peace at last.
The story had multiple story lines, including that of Gideon Bardsley, inventor of the Fiddlehead and former slave, as he is attacked in an attempt to destroy his calculating machine. He finds himself running for his life, right to the home of retired President Lincoln, who survived the assassination attempt but now uses a motorized wheelchair. Meanwhile, President Grant finds a traitor in his government whose actions may not just keep the war going but cause the end of civilization on the American continents. There is a lot at stake, and only a few people- including a former Confederate spy and a man with a warrant out on him-and very little time to try and stop a zombie apocalypse from occurring.
It’s a good story; the story line following Maria Boyd (the former spy) has a tremendous amount of action in it right up to the climax. The line that follows Grant, Bardsley and Lincoln is very tense but there is a siege that goes on far too long- the one flaw I felt the book had. All in all, a satisfying read.