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Leviathan (Leviathan Series #1)
     

Leviathan (Leviathan Series #1)

4.4 487
by Scott Westerfeld, Keith Thompson (Illustrator)
 

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It is the cusp of World War I, and all the European powers are arming up. The Austro-Hungarians and Germans have their Clankers, steam-driven iron machines loaded with guns and ammunition. The British Darwinists employ fabricated animals as their weaponry. Their Leviathan is a whale airship, and the most masterful beast in the British fleet.

Aleksandar

Overview

It is the cusp of World War I, and all the European powers are arming up. The Austro-Hungarians and Germans have their Clankers, steam-driven iron machines loaded with guns and ammunition. The British Darwinists employ fabricated animals as their weaponry. Their Leviathan is a whale airship, and the most masterful beast in the British fleet.

Aleksandar Ferdinand, prince of the Austro-Hungarian Empire, is on the run. His own people have turned on him. His title is worthless. All he has is a battle-torn Stormwalker and a loyal crew of men.

Deryn Sharp is a commoner, a girl disguised as a boy in the British Air Service. She's a brilliant airman. But her secret is in constant danger of being discovered.

With the Great War brewing, Alek's and Deryn's paths cross in the most unexpected way...taking them both aboard the Leviathan on a fantastical, around-the-world adventure. One that will change both their lives forever.

Editorial Reviews

From Paul Di Filippo's "SPECULTATOR" column on The Barnes & Noble Review


Has steampunk jumped Captain Nemo's clockwork shark yet?

The genre -- succinctly described as a mix of archaic tech (either real or fanciful), the supernatural, and postmodern metafictional tricksterism, set in the consensus historical past or alternate timelines -- was first christened in 1987, a lifetime ago as cultural and literary fads are measured, in a letter to Locus magazine from the writer K. W. Jeter. Of course, the actual roots of the form extend back even further, perhaps as early as 1965, when a certain television show named The Wild, Wild West debuted.

Some literary styles and tropes wane with their cultural moment, but others have proved exceedingly long-lived, with writers continually discovering unexplored narrative possibilities within elastic bounds. Perhaps the best example is the Gothic, still with us today, and flourishing, despite being a couple of centuries old.

But steampunk has exfoliated beyond the merely literary, into the daily lives of its fans. Like Civil War re-enactors or medievalist members of the Society for Creative Anachronism, "steampunks" now include those for whom the novels and stories have been superseded by cosplay, crafting, music, partying, artwork, manga, anime, feature films, and the creation of props or working hardware. For every reader and writer of steampunk fiction, there are probably hundreds or thousands of other activists who gleefully embrace some non-written manifestation of the steampunk ethos.

Generally speaking, by the time a subculture such as steampunk secures the attention of major media, resulting in extensive coverage of the craze, said phenomenon is already on the way out. But despite numerous and growing features about steampunk in the national press, such does not seem to be the case, at least in terms of fiction. The juggernaut that is steampunk, like Dr. Loveless's giant mechanical spider in the 1999 film version of The Wild, Wild West, seems capable of crushing all naysayers.

Yet what of the literature itself -- now transformed into something of an appendage -- that spawned the movement? Has it exhausted all the radium bullets in its Gatling gun, or is fresh work still capable of surprising the reader?

Well, the latter half of 2009 proved to be a fine period for steampunk, and 2010 seems to be starting out likewise, with a new novel that manages to do some uncanny things with the genre. (As well, readers should be alerted to Steampunk Reloaded, a forthcoming anthology compiled by Ann and Jeff Vandermeer.)

Cherie Priest's brand of steampunk featured an adolescent protagonist whose actions were circumscribed within a tiny venue, in a book that nonetheless sported a fully adult texture. Contrastingly, in Leviathan, Scott Westerfeld's youthful, globe-hopping heroes star in a book staunchly aimed at a big-screen-friendly YA audience, mightily abetted by gorgeous B&W illustrations from Keith Thompson. That's merely the beginning of the differences that serve to illustrate the wide range of steampunk.

Westerfeld paints his picture on a realpolitik canvas absent from Priest's domestic frame. The year is 1914, and war is imminent, upon the assassination of Archduke Franz Ferdinand and his wife. But aside from that, all is different in this alternate continuum. The Germans and their allies, known as "Clankers," have perfected super-mechanized craft of war. The British, or "Darwinists," rely on bioengineering: aerial whales, souped-up tiger draft beasts, and so forth. Garnering our attention among the Clankers is Prince Alek, only child of Franz and commoner Sophie, on the run from the Austrian Emperor. Among the Brits, Deryn, a young girl masquerading as a male midshipman in the imperial airforce. Their personalities are fierce and real, their inevitable meeting staged nicely and with zest.

Cleverly overlaying Bruce Sterling's famous Mechanist/Shaper dichotomy upon twentieth-century history in a warping fashion, carefully allotting sympathy to both sides of the conflict, staging both small- and large-scale scenes with finesse and aplomb, Westerfeld steadily builds a world that we soon accept as totally real and palpable. His inventiveness with the details of the competing imaginary technologies renders the rival paradigms sharp and bristly, with the complex stakes involved plain to see.

The first in a series, Leviathan, as the author says in his Afterword, does indeed truly utilize steampunk's ability to address both past and future simultaneously.

Austin Grossman
Scott Westerfeld's Leviathan is a tightly paced young adult novel set in an alternate version of the First World War and a welcome addition to the steampunk genre…Westerfeld's imagery is enhanced by Keith Thompson's old-fashioned black-and-white illustrations, which lend an extra dimension of reality to this world. And the Darwinist and Clanker jargon crackles with an authentically techie feel.
—The New York Times
Publishers Weekly
Launching a planned four-book series, Westerfeld (the Uglies series) explores an alternate 1914 divided between Darwinists, who advocate advanced biotechnology, and Clankers, masters of retrofuturistic mechanical engineering. Austria-Hungary's Prince Aleksandar is whisked away into the night by trusted advisers; he soon learns that his parents, Archduke Franz Ferdinand and Countess Sophie, have been murdered and that he has been targeted by prowar Germans. Half a continent away, Deryn Sharp successfully passes as a young man to join the British Air Service; her bravery during a catastrophic first flight aboard a genetically enhanced jellyfish (“The creatures' fishy guts could survive almost any fall, but their human passengers were rarely so lucky”) earns Deryn a post on the living airship Leviathan. The fortunes of war lead Aleksandar and Deryn to the Swiss Alps, where they must cooperate or face destruction at the hands of the Germans. The protagonists' stories are equally gripping and keep the story moving, and Thompson's detail-rich panels bring Westerfeld's unusual creations to life. The author's fully realized world has an inventive lexicon to match—readers will be eager for the sequels. Ages 12–up. (Oct.)
VOYA - Timothy Capehart
Awakened in the middle of the night, fifteenyear- old Prince Aleksandar, son of Archduke Ferdinand of the Austro-Hungarian Empire, at first thinks he is headed out for some night training in one of the family's Stormwalker war machines. His teachers, however, have entirely different motives for getting the Prince out of the castle. Alek's parents have been assassinated, and his life is in danger. Meanwhile fifteen-year-old Deryn Sharp, who studied flight with her now dead father, is so desperate to continue her studies that she has convinced her brother to help her pass as "Dylan" and join the British Air Service. Unlike the "Clankers" of Germany and Austria who depend on machines, the Darwinists of France and England use fabricated beasts (genetically engineered animals) in all aspects of their lives. On a short trip up in a hydrogen-breathing, balloon-like Huxley (a huge animal based on a jellyfish), Deryn flies off course and ends up joining the crew of the whale ship Leviathan. Through battle and circumstance, the two end up becoming friends and find their missions and their lives entwined in this first volume of a new series by the author of the popular Uglies series. Set in 1914, alternate-history science fiction combines well with Thompson's fabulously detailed illustrations but gets a bit of its base science wrong. The inventiveness of the milieu, however, more than makes up for it. The characters are not as engaging or the story as compelling as the many battle sequences, but there is much here to interest fans of Reeve's Hungry Cities series or the less-juvenile fantasies of Hayao Miyazaki. Reviewer: Timothy Capehart
Children's Literature - Judy Silverman
This is a combination historical novel/fantasy-science fiction coming-of-age story. In 1914, Europe is split between "Darwinists" and "Clunkers"—Britain and her allies, and Germany and hers. The Darwinists have used what they call "life-threads" to clone extinct animals and manipulate genetics to the point where whales can fly and lizards can communicate (after a fashion) with people. The Clunkers consider that all of this is blasphemous and evil. So, we begin with the Clunkers. Aleksander, called Alek, is the son of the Crown Prince of the Austro-Hungarian Empire. His mother is a commoner, so Alek "has had enemies since the day he was born." But it is July 1914, and his parents have just been assassinated. Fortunately, he has some friends in the Army who were privy to his father's plans for just this situation. So while he feels that he has been kidnapped, he is being protected—but from whom? Can he trust Master Klopp or Count Volger? The pattern of the book is established here, as we are introduced to Deryn Sharp, a British girl who would really rather be a boy. Her father has died recently in a flying accident, and she knows that she would be a terrific soldier or sailor—and her older brother decides to help her. She cuts off her hair, puts on boys clothes, and enlists in the Navy as Midshipman Dylan Sharp. Every few chapters we switch viewpoints, and the characters are so real that we really do not know whose side we should be on. By the end of the book we are not even sure who will win the war—but it is all right because there will be another volume to the series. A terrific read. Reviewer: Judy Silverman
School Library Journal
Gr 7 Up—This is World War I as never seen before. The story begins the same: on June 28, 1914, Archduke Franz Ferdinand and his wife are assassinated, triggering a sequence of alliances that plunges the world into war. But that is where the similarity ends. This global conflict is between the Clankers, who put their faith in machines, and the Darwinists, whose technology is based on the development of new species. After the assassination of his parents, Prince Aleksandar's people turn on him. Accompanied by a small group of loyal servants, the young Clanker flees Austria in a Cyklop Stormwalker, a war machine that walks on two legs. Meanwhile, as Deryn Sharp trains to be an airman with the British Air Service, she prays that no one will discover that she is a girl. She serves on the Leviathan, a massive biological airship that resembles an enormous flying whale and functions as a self-contained ecosystem. When it crashes in Switzerland, the two teens cross paths, and suddenly the line between enemy and ally is no longer clearly defined. The ending leaves plenty of room for a sequel, and that's a good thing because readers will be begging for more. Enhanced by Thompson's intricate black-and-white illustrations, Westerfeld's brilliantly constructed imaginary world will capture readers from the first page. Full of nonstop action, this steampunk adventure is sure to become a classic.—Heather M. Campbell, formerly at Philip S. Miller Library, Castle Rock, CO
Kirkus Reviews
The fate of many rests in the hands of an Austrian schoolboy and a British airman, both in disguise. Alek is the son of the recently assassinated Archduke Franz Ferdinand, hiding from European nations hostile to his father. Midshipman Dylan is really Deryn, a girl passing as a boy in order to serve in the British Air Service. Alek has fled home in a steam-powered Stormwalker, one of the great manned war machines of the Central Powers. Meanwhile, Deryn's berth is on a massive airbeast, a genetically engineered hydrogen-breather, one of the Darwinist ships of the Allied Powers. The growing hostilities of what is soon to become the Great War throw the two together, and Darwinists and Clankers must work together if they all want to survive. Two Imperial forces meet, one built with steam and the other built with DNA, producing rich, vivid descriptions of the technologies that divide a continent. The setting begs comparisons to Hayao Miyazaki, Kenneth Oppel and Naomi Novik, but this work will stand-or fly-on its own. (Science fiction. 12-15)
From the Publisher

"Full of nonstop action, this steampunk adventure is sure to become a classic." -- starred, School Library Journal

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9781416971733
Publisher:
Simon Pulse
Publication date:
10/06/2009
Series:
Leviathan Series , #1
Pages:
448
Sales rank:
275,640
Product dimensions:
5.60(w) x 9.10(h) x 1.40(d)
Lexile:
790L (what's this?)
Age Range:
12 - 17 Years

Read an Excerpt

Leviathan


  • By the time they reached the stables, Alek’s only concern was tripping in the darkness. The moon was less than half full, and the estate’s hunting forests stretched like a black sea across the valley. At this hour even the lights of Prague had died out to a mere inkling.

    When Alek saw the walker, a soft cry escaped his lips.

    It stood taller than the stable’s roof, its two metal feet sunk deep into the soil of the riding paddock. It looked like one of the Darwinist monsters skulking in the darkness.

    This wasn’t some training machine—it was a real engine of war, a Cyklop Stormwalker. A cannon was mounted in its belly, and the stubby noses of two Spandau machine guns sprouted from its head, which was as big as a smokehouse.

    Before tonight Alek had piloted only unarmed runabouts and four-legged training corvettes. Even with his sixteenth birthday almost here, Mother always insisted that he was too young for war machines.

    “STEALING AWAY.”

    “I’m supposed to pilot that?” Alek heard his own voice break. “My old runabout wouldn’t come up to its knee!”

    Otto Klopp’s gloved hand patted his shoulder heavily. “Don’t worry, young Mozart. I’ll be at your side.”

    Count Volger called up to the machine, and its engines rumbled to life, the ground trembling under Alek’s feet. Moonlight shivered from the wet leaves in the camouflage nets draped over the Stormwalker, and the mutter of nervous horses came from the stable.

    The belly hatch swung open and a chain ladder tumbled out, unrolling as it fell. Count Volger stilled it from swinging, then planted a boot on the lowermost metal rung to hold it steady.

    “Young master, if you please.”

    Alek stared up at the machine. He tried to imagine guiding this monster through the darkness, crushing trees, buildings, and anything else unlucky enough to be in his path.

    Otto Klopp leaned closer. “Your father the archduke has thrown us a challenge, me and you. He wants you ready to pilot any machine in the House Guard, even in the middle of the night.”

    Alek swallowed. Father always said that, with war on the horizon, everyone in the household had to be prepared. And it made sense to begin training while Mother was away. If Alek crashed the walker, the worst bruises might fade before the princess Sophie returned.

    But Alek still hesitated. The belly hatch of the rumbling machine looked like the jaws of some giant predator bending down to take a bite.

    “Of course, we cannot force you, Your Serene Highness,” Count Volger said, amusement in his voice. “We can always explain to your father that you were too scared.”

    “I’m not scared.” Alek grabbed the ladder and hoisted himself up. The sawtooth rungs gripped his gloves as Alek climbed past the anti-boarding spikes arrayed along the walker’s belly. He crawled into the machine’s dark maw, the smell of kerosene and sweat filling his nose, the engines’ rhythm trembling in his bones.

    “Welcome aboard, Your Highness,” a voice said. Two men waited in the gunners’ cabin, steel helmets glittering. A Stormwalker carried a crew of five, Alek recalled. This wasn’t some little three-man runabout. He almost forgot to return their salutes.

    Count Volger was close behind him on the ladder, so Alek kept climbing up into the command cabin. He took the pilot’s seat, strapping himself in as Klopp and Volger followed.

    He placed his hands on the saunters, feeling the machine’s awesome power trembling in his fingers. Strange to think that these two small levers could control the walker’s huge metal legs.

    “Vision at full,” Klopp said, cranking the viewport open as wide as it would go. The cool night air spilled into the Stormwalker’s cabin, and moonlight fell across dozens of switches and levers.

    The four-legged corvette he’d piloted the month before had needed only control saunters, a fuel gauge, and a compass. But now uncountable needles were arrayed before him, shivering like nervous whiskers.

    What were they all for?

    He pulled his eyes from the controls and stared through the viewport. The distance to the ground gave him a queasy feeling, like peering down from a hayloft with thoughts of jumping.

    The edge of the forest loomed only twenty meters away. Did they really expect him to pilot this machine through those dense trees and tangled roots … at night?

    “At your pleasure, young master,” Count Volger said, sounding bored already.

    Alek set his jaw, resolving not to provide the man with any more amusement. He eased the saunters forward, and the huge Daimler engines changed pitch as steel gears bit, grinding into motion.

    The Stormwalker rose from its crouch slowly, the ground slipping still farther away. Alek could see across the treetops now, all the way to shimmering Prague.

    He pulled the left saunter back and pushed the right forward. The machine lumbered into motion with an inhumanly large step, pressing him back into the pilot’s seat.

    The right pedal rose a little as the walker’s foot hit soft ground, nudging Alek’s boot. He twisted at the saunters, transferring weight from one foot to the other. The cabin swayed like a tree house in a high wind, lurching back and forth with each giant step. A chorus of hissing came from the engines below, gauges dancing as the Stormwalker’s pneumatic joints strained against the machine’s weight.

    “Good … excellent,” Otto muttered from the commander’s seat. “Watch your knee pressure, though.”

    Alek dared a glance down at the controls, but had no idea what Master Klopp was talking about. Knee pressure? How could anyone keep track of all those needles without driving the whole contraption into a tree?

    “Better,” the man said a few steps later. Alek nodded dumbly, overjoyed that he hadn’t tipped them over yet.

    Already the forest was looming up, filling the wide-open viewport with a dark tangle of shapes. The first glistening branches swept past, thwacking at the viewport, spattering Alek with cold showers of dew.

    “Shouldn’t we spark up the running lights?” he asked.

    Klopp shook his head. “Remember, young master? We’re pretending we don’t want to be spotted.”

    “Revolting way to travel,” Volger muttered, and Alek wondered again why the man was here. Was there to be a fencing lesson after this? What sort of warrior-Mozart was his father trying to make him into?

    The shriek of grinding gears filled the cabin. The left pedal snapped up against Alek’s foot, and the whole machine tipped ominously forward.

    “You’re caught, young master!” Otto said, hands ready to snatch the saunters away.

    “I know!” Alek cried, twisting at the controls. He slammed the machine’s right foot down midstride, its knee joint spitting air like a train whistle. The Stormwalker wavered drunkenly for a moment, threatening to fall. But long seconds later Alek felt the machine’s weight settle into the moss and dirt. It was balanced with one foot stretching back, like a fencer posing after a lunge.

    He pushed on both saunters, the left leg pulling at whatever had entangled it, the right straining forward. The Daimler engines groaned, and metal joints hissed. Finally a shudder passed through the cabin, along with the satisfying sound of roots tearing from the ground— the Stormwalker rising up. It stood high for a moment, like a chicken on one leg, then stepped forward again.

    Alek’s shaking hands guided the walker through its next few strides.

    “Well done, young master!” Otto cried. He clapped his hands once.

    “Thank you, Klopp,” Alek said in a dry voice, feeling sweat trickle down his face. His hands clenched the saunters tight, but the machine was walking smoothly again.

    Gradually he forgot that he was at the controls, feeling the steps as if they were his own. The sway of the cabin settled into his body, the rhythms of gears and pneumatics not so different from his runabout’s, only louder. Alek had even begun to see patterns in the flickering needles of the control panel—a few leapt into the red with every footfall, easing back as the walker straightened. Knee pressure, indeed.

    But the sheer power of the machine kept him anxious. Heat from the engines built in the cabin, the night air blowing in like cold fingers. Alek tried to imagine what piloting would be like in battle, with the viewport half shut against flying bullets and shrapnel.

    Finally the pine branches cleared before them, and Klopp said, “Turn here and we’ll have better footing, young master.”

    “Isn’t this one of Mother’s riding paths?” Alek said. “She’ll have my hide if we track it up!” Whenever one of Princess Sophie’s horses stumbled on a walker footprint, Master Klopp, Alek, and even Father felt her wrath for days.

    But he eased back on the throttle, grateful for a moment of rest, bringing the Stormwalker to a halt on the trail. Inside his piloting jacket Alek was soaked with sweat.

    “Disagreeable in every way, Your Highness,” Volger said. “But necessary if we’re to make good time tonight.”

    Alek turned to Otto Klopp and frowned. “Make good time? But this is just practice. We’re not going anywhere, are we?”

    Klopp didn’t answer, his eyes glancing up at the count. Alek pulled his hands from the saunters and swiveled the pilot’s chair around.

    “Volger, what’s going on?”

    The wildcount stared down at him in silence, and Alek felt suddenly very alone out here in the darkness.

    His mind began to replay his father’s warnings: How some nobles believed that Alek’s muddled lineage threatened the empire. That one day the insults might turn into something worse… .

    But these men couldn’t be traitors. Volger had held a sword to his throat a thousand times in fencing practice, and his master of mechaniks? Unthinkable.

    “Where are we going, Otto? Explain this at once.”

    “You’re to come with us, Your Highness,” Otto Klopp said softly.

    “We have to get as far away from Prague as possible,” Volger said. “Your father’s orders.”

    “But my father isn’t even …” Alek gritted his teeth and swore. What a fool he’d been, tempted into the forest with tales of midnight piloting, like luring a child with candy. The whole household was asleep, his parents away in Sarajevo.

    Alek’s arms were still tired from fighting to keep the Stormwalker upright, and strapped into the pilot’s chair he could hardly draw his knife. He closed his eyes—he’d left the weapon back in his room, under the pillow.

    “The archduke left instructions,” Count Volger said.

    “You’re lying!” Alek shouted.

    “I wish we were, young master.” Volger reached into his riding jacket.

    A surge of panic swept into Alek, cutting through his despair. His hands shot to the unfamiliar controls, searching for the distress whistle’s cord. They couldn’t be far from home yet. Surely someone would hear the Stormwalker’s shriek.

    Otto jumped into motion, grabbing Alek’s arms. Volger swept a flask from his jacket and forced its open mouth to Alek’s face. A sweet smell filled the cabin, sending his mind spinning. He tried not to breathe, struggling against the larger men.

    Then his fingers found the distress cord and pulled—

    But Master Klopp’s hands were already at the controls, spilling the Stormwalker’s pneumatic pressure. The whistle let out only a miserable descending wail, like a teakettle pulled from the fire.

    Alek still struggled, holding his breath for what felt like minutes, but finally his lungs rebelled. He scooped in a ragged breath, the sharp scent of chemicals filling his head …

    A cascade of bright spots fell across the instruments, and a weight seemed to lift from Alek’s shoulders. He felt as though he were floating free of the men’s grasp, free of the seat straps—free of gravity, even.

    “My father will have your heads,” he managed to croak.

    “Alas not, Your Highness,” Count Volger said. “Your parents are both dead, murdered this night in Sarajevo.”

    Alek tried to laugh at this absurd statement, but the world twisted sideways under him, darkness and silence crashing down.

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    Meet the Author

    Scott Westerfeld is the author of the Leviathan series, the first book of which was the winner of the 2010 Locus Award for Best Young Adult Fiction. His other novels include the New York Times bestseller Afterworlds, the worldwide bestselling Uglies series, The Last Days, Peeps, So Yesterday, and the Midnighters trilogy. Visit him at ScottWesterfeld.com or follow him on Twitter at @ScottWesterfeld.

    Keith Thompson’s work has appeared in books, magazines, TV, video games, and films. See his work at KeithThompsonArt.com.

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    Leviathan 4.4 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 488 reviews.
    Mark_J913 More than 1 year ago
    Before all the teenage steampunk fans crucify me for the perceived low rating, let me explain my system. Five stars would mean this is one of the best books ever written, one that I'll re-read multiple times over my life. Four stars means an excellent book that I'll likely re-read one or more times. Three stars means a good book that time permitting I may read again sometime, or in the case of a series, I will definitely read the next installment. So, three stars is really a pretty good rating. I just think that, like grades in school, ratings can get awfully inflated to the point that they become meaningless. Now, to the critique. The story's concept is interesting enough--combining traditional steampunk (if steampunk is even old enough to have a tradition) with genetic engineering. The genetic engineering part, making ships and such out of altered animals, isn't a new concept--see Harry Harrison's West of Eden, published in 1984. But, this is well-conceived for the most part and adds an interesting element of conflict to the story, more so than just two cultures with the same "Clanker"-type technology. The story line too is interesting--the young girl masquerading as a boy in order to be in the air service, and the young prince caught in a political struggle for control of an empire. Prince Alek's situation is neatly tied in with the actual historical assassination of the Archduke that led to our real-world World War I. The main characters are fairly well drawn and likeable. Some of the supporting characters are a bit one-dimensional but it's not a serious flaw. The book has one rather egregious technical error, which while it doesn't really affect the story, is also one that would have been easily avoided. Several references are made to the odor of hydrogen, including a scene in which Dylan/Deryn chides Alek for not being able to recognize it. The trouble is, neither should Dylan or anyone else, because hydrogen is odorless. This could have easily been solved by having the hydrogen tagged with a marker gas (like methane--that vaguely fart like smell is not actual methane, which like hydrogen is both flammable and odorless). Or, more in line with the genetic engineering theme, would be to genetically engineer the sniffer dogs so that the presence of hydrogen in their noses would create another chemical they could smell. Or both--the sniffers could be engineered to detect very low levels of hydrogen that wouldn't be picked up by the humans even with a tag gas. Other weaknesses include the heavy reliance on altered beasts to perform jobs on the airship. With the emphasis on weight that is so important for a lighter-than-air ship, one would think that having to keep dozens of hydrogen sniffers on board plus their food would make the air service think seriously of coming up with something a bit more mechanical that would take up less weight, space, and not need food. It's not too hard to conceive of a mechanical device to sense hydrogen leaks. Likewise the birds and bats used for defensive and offensive purposes--the range seems limited, and birds and bats will fly much slower than bullets. It would seem to be pretty easy to develop attack tactics for the Clanker airplanes to stay out of range of the birds and bats and blast the whale airship with incendiaries. All of these nits aside, the book was an entertaining read, and I will most likely read the next one in the series.
    TheCre8R More than 1 year ago
    Leviathan Have you ever experienced that exhilarating rush of relief on the last day of school? The realization: no more anything, no more homework! Suddenly, your teacher stands up to make an announcement. They blubber on, you're growing up so fast, blablabla, and she tells you that you have to read a history book. History? You know you're going to be bored. But you don't have to be. The Leviathan, by Scott Westerfeld, is fantasy/history, so make sure to stock up on some snacks for the hours in bed you're going to spend snared in the adventure! There are two sides to this story, but we'll start out with Aleksander Ferdinand, the 15 year old prince of Austria-Hungary. While he is in the palace, supposed to be sleeping, he steals away with the Master of Mechaniks, Otto Klopp, and his Fencing Master, Count Volger, into a Cyclops Stormwalker, a huge war machine, after learning that his parents were assassinated in Serbia, a Darwinist nation. Darwinist nations include Russia, France, Britain, Algeria, and Serbia, and they employ fabricated beasts as their weapons, while Austria-Hungary and the Ottoman Empire are Clankers; they rely on their steam driven war machines. Alek is no exception, as he flees in his war machine. The risk of the new reign sending his assassins to destroy the threat (Alek)is too great. With the aid of his small crew, they pilot the Stormwalker through enemy Clanker lines to Switzerland, which is neither Darwinist nor Clanker. Therefore, it remains neutral in the coming war driven by his parent's death, and conceals a castle full of provisions for Alek to wait out the war. The other side of this adventure is the perspective of a young 15 year old Darwinist girl named Deryn. She has always dreamed of being in the Air Fleet, but only boys are admitted. However, she disguises herself as a boy and gains entry. When she gets there, she, along with her peers, has to take a test to rule out the squeamish. This involves riding up in a Huxley, a hydrogen breathing air-jellyfish. As she floats up (totally unafraid) a storm blows her and the Huxley away, and they become stranded in the sky. Lo and behold, a savior appears-the Leviathan! The Leviathan is a huge, living sperm whale that turns its food into hydrogen, keeping it aloft. It has blimp-like parts, including walkthrough innards and a metal compound on its belly. After securing Deryn as part of its crew, they touch down to pick up a mysterious woman with an equally mysterious clutch of eggs in tow. Then, as they enter the Swiss border, they are shot down by Clanker zeppelins, and are stranded on the ice. Deryn loses consciousness when she is thrown from the hull on impact. Alek appears from the snow, determined to help this enemy crew, and ultimately saves her from frostbite. Even though they don't often agree, Deryn is grateful that he rescued her: "Yes," Alek said, "a frostbitten bum would've been unfortunate." page 236 The Leviathan is less fortunate. Without food, it will never survive and heal. Alek has the required quantity, but will he give it up? Even if he does, will the wounded air ship heal in time to escape a hungry fleet of Clankers waiting to finish them off? Find out in this incredible adventure that will forever change the way you think about history. But first, will you like this book? It is shrouded in conspiracy and high vocab, so I would recommend this book sixth grade and up; adults will like it,
    Anonymous More than 1 year ago
    This book keep me reading and on the edge of my seat. There were a few dual moments but they were picked back up by guessing on what was going to happen next and ongoing suspense. The setting is kept mostly in Switzerland when our two main characters collide and it makes for quite the situation. The book is overall a great read and is good for anyone that likes to get away from reality for awhile.
    Annibebe More than 1 year ago
    I would recommend this book. It's an excellent adventure that rewrites history a little bit. The only reason I didn't give it 5 stars is that the repetitive vocabulary of one character was excessive. Other than that irritant, it was very good!
    deathbymuffins More than 1 year ago
    I have to say, when my sister gave me this book to read,I wasn't that interested, as I had been reading rapture of The Deep, which I loved, but I have to say, if I had known this book was so good, I would have dropped Rapture and dived into Leviathan. Sometimes books have cheesy cover artwork to attract readers, and at first I thought Leviathan was another one of these books. I was dead wrong. Westerfeld is awsome. Bow down, bow down.
    geoffro2011 More than 1 year ago
    I just picked up this book because I liked the cover art and after reading the inside of the jacket I decided it sounded like a good read. I'm extremely glad I got this book. It has an epic story and I love the science fiction spin on WW1. The characters in this book are awesome and he really keeps the story line moving. It isn't hard to read. I read the whole thing in probably about five hours or so. I'd definitely suggest this book to anyone looking for a great book.
    Anonymous More than 1 year ago
    When I first read this book I was 16, and shocked to find drawn pictures and images throughout the book. In all honesty, that's what makes this sush a interesting, detail-enriched book. Those images help you better understand and grasp the world the author has created. Seriously, try it out. You won't find another book like it!
    Anonymous More than 1 year ago
    This was a very good book. The plot and characters are truly creative and original. I love how the two characters lives intertwine in the end.But beware this is a very advanced book. It has alot of " big words " and you need to pay attention to whos story line you are on. But otherwise it is an amazing book and i hignly recommend it.
    Jenny_Rose More than 1 year ago
    Leviathan by Scott Westerfeld is a great adventure into an alternate history. It’s pre-World War I but Europe is taking sides between robotic fighting machines and Frankenstein-esque animal creations. Darwinists are genetically crossing various creatures that are supposed to be better than machines because they can heal and need food rather than fuel. The Clankers create robotic-like machines of various sizes, shapes and abilities. They believe the machines are better because metal is stronger than skin. Westerfeld has created a great alternate reality. He does an amazing job of describing machines and creatures that don’t exist but makes the reader wonder—could they? I’ve always been a sci-fi fan and so far I’m really enjoying this new sub-genre steampunk.
    MissPrint More than 1 year ago
    The year is 1914 and Europe is preparing for war. Although the events leading to a world war are sudden, the lines have long been drawn between the Clanker and Darwinist nations. While Austria-Hungary and Germany put their faith in steam-driven iron machines and guns, the British Darwinists fabricate monstrous beasties as their weapons and ships. At the center of the conflict is Alexsandar Ferdinand, prince of the Austro-Hungarian Empire and son of the ill-fated Archduke Franz Ferdinand. With the death of assassination of his parents, Alek's title is worthless; his own country ready to betray him. Only a battle-worn Stormwalker and a loyal crew stand between Alek and a fate similar to his parents as the young prince goes into hiding. Meanwhile, Deryn Sharp is a girl hiding a monstrous secret to join the British Air Service. Disguised as boy, Deryn can hold her own as an airman. But the risk of discovery is as constant as the danger of battler as her airship flies nearer to battle. Born in two different worlds, from different sides of the same war, everything will change when Alek and Deryn finally meet in Leviathan (2009) by Scott Westerfeld with illustrations by Keith Thompson. Until then, the only question is: Do you oil your war machines? Or do you feed them? Leviathan is the first book in Westerfeld's new series (a projected trilogy, I'm almost certain). It is nothing like his vastly popular Uglies series or anything else he has written. The first thing readers need to know about this book is that it does not fit into the traditional science fiction niche that so comfortably houses Uglies (and Peeps). Instead, Leviathan is a steampunk* novel. Instead of looking to the future as science fiction often does steampunk looks to the past creating an alternate history where it was not the modern era but the Victorian era who made all of the great technological advances. Instead of the technology we have today, steampunk suggests a world running on clockwork mechanisms, brass and steel, and in the case of Leviathan genetic engineering that we can still only imagine. That is the world that Alek and Deryn inhabit--a world changing before their eyes as World War One begins in Europe. Westerfeld weaves the two teenagers' stories together to create a seamless picture of both the Clanker and Darwinist lifestyle. Their two paths also converge as both characters realize that their futures lie far from their European homes. Leviathan might be the book I was most excited to read in 2009. It was also one of the best. As usual, Westerfeld's writing is pitch-perfect blending science, action, and brilliant characters to create a book made of pure magic. It hardly seemedpossible, but for me this book has far surpassed all of Westerfeld's previous (awesome) books. Keith Thompson's brilliant illustrations set the mood for the story and bring the world of the Clankers and Darwinists to life in intricate line drawings**. The American/Canadian and Australian editions of Leviathan also feature full color endpapers with an allegorical map of Europe as drawn by Thompson*** that only adds to the book's charm. The series will continue with Behemoth.
    Anonymous More than 1 year ago
    This trilogy was absolutely amazing. I finished all three books in less than four days. I would highly recommend it to everybody. There's romance, secrets, adventure and more!
    Audreyclair More than 1 year ago
    Title: Leviathan Author: Scott Westerfeld Genre: YA Steampunk alternate history Publishing Information: 440 pages; September 22nd, 2009 by Simon Pulse Series: Leviathan #1, followed by Behemoth and Goliath Where I got it: Borders liquidation sale One sentence: In this alternative history of World War I, the lives of Prince Aleksander of Austria-Hungary, on the run from his own country, and Deryn Sharp, a common girl disguised as a boy in the British Air Service, become intertwined. Themes: Alternate history, World War I, steampunk, girl in disguise, illustrated, war Main characters: 3.5/5 I wasn't sure about the characters at first. While I know they are young, these protagonists came off slightly immature. However, as the novel progressed, both matured into their changing circumstances and developed into likeable characters. How refreshing too that there was no hint of romance during the first book! And I absolutely adored Deryn and Aleksander's first meeting. Both characters had clear and unique voices that rang clear in the alternating point of views. Secondary characters: 2/5 Unfortunately, none of the secondary characters really jumped out at me. The crew members aboard the Leviathan seemed to jumble together, and Aleksander's supporters were the same. The only secondary character who intrigued me was Dr. Barrow, whose mysterious ways and aims fascinated me and made me inordinately curious: how did she come about her companion? How did she get the items she brought upon Leviathan? Writing style: 3.5/5 I LOVE pictures in books. Isn't it nice when you're in the middle of a big block of words and bam! there's a random picture? That's how I felt about the illustrations in Leviathan- right when I was confused what this massive airship looked like, or how these Stormwalkers worked, I turned the page and there was a picture. The only thing was I didn't feel like the cute pictures matched the slightly more intense writing and plot. Westerfeld was adept at switching the focus from Deryn to Aleksander and back again while keeping the plot moving, however, I did feel that most of the book was exposition and I wished that it accelerated more quickly. Plot: 4/5 This is the first alternate history and first steam-punk I think I've ever read. I wasn't sure about the genre until I actually sat down and read it: I was blown away! I absolutely adore history, so the different take on World War I was fascinating, particularly the conflict between the British Darwinists, who create fabricated beasts, and the German Clankers, who attack with steam-powered war machines. I loved the combination of this alternate history with the 'steampunk' aspect. Further, the plot itself was entertaining and full of action, although slightly predictable. Ending: 2/5 Hmmmph. Another series book that ends with more questions than it begins with, and with none of the conflict solved. Best scene: Deryn's first experience with the British Air Service. Positives: Realistic and unique main characters, writing style, fascinating plot Negatives: Slow introduction, slightly more childish than I would have liked, boring secondary characters First Line: The Austrian horses glinted in the moonlight, their riders standing tall in the saddle, swords raised. Cover: I wasn't a fan. It doesn't look like the kind of thing I would normally read and it didn't draw me in. Verdict: The premise was intriguing, and although there were a fe
    Anonymous More than 1 year ago
    I loved this book although confusing at parts a very good read!
    I-Think-I-Do More than 1 year ago
    This book was one of my first ventures into literature-based steampunk, and all I can say is that I'm HOOKED. Considering the unique storyline, the original characters, and the interesting and engaging language Westerfield created for his world, it was definitely a fantastic choice for the leap of faith I took in buying it. I bonded to Alek and Deryn straightaway, and after I finished the book, I thought, "Oh, it was pretty cool," and rhen, laying in bed that night, I realized that I was literally craving the story - so I'm about to go back and reread it! An excellent choice for any adventure fan.
    Mario_de_la_Vega More than 1 year ago
    It was a really good book. I had a hard time putting the book down. Everything seemed well balanced from the characters to the description of the mechanical fighting machines to the Darwnist genetically altered fighting transports. If you like science fiction mixed with a Victorian background with a adventure that young and adult will enjoy then this is the book for you. I will be re-reading it again until I the sequel comes out.
    Anonymous More than 1 year ago
    So goodddddd
    Anonymous More than 1 year ago
    This is by far the best series that I have ever read. I wish that other authors would write books this interesting and well thought through more often.
    Anonymous More than 1 year ago
    Is it any good? I clicked on it because I thought of Supernatural(Team CROWLEY)
    Anonymous More than 1 year ago
    AMAZING
    Books4Tomorrow More than 1 year ago
    A tale of adventure, Leviathan is one of those books with which I could sit back and relax. Set in an alternate 1914, the First World War is about to be fought between the Darwinist countries with their genetically altered war beasts, and the Clankers with their advanced war machines. Caught up in this are prince Aleksander, son of Archduke Franz Ferdinand and Sophie Chotek, and a young soldier, Deryn aka Dylan Sharp.   At first I thought Leviathan to be just another elaborate science fiction adventure, but by the middle of the book the characters and animals had grown on me to the extent that I didn't want the book to end. Hence, it was these brilliantly crafted characters and the excellent world building that truly kept me riveted to my chair. Deryn Sharp, posing as a boy, does justice to her surname. She is sharp, witty, brave and truly cute in an enchantingly innocent way.  Alek, on the other hand, is more serious and must make multiple adjustments when his life changes from that of a prince to that of a fugitive. His protectors, count Volger and Otto Klopp, are characters whom I wish I knew in real life; they are that well crafted and realistic.  Despite their status as soldier and prince, both main characters still have a youthful innocence and playfulness in them. This is wonderfully refreshing as so many young adult authors tend to make their characters too serious and adult for their fictional age. Add to this interesting mix of personalities the inventive, slightly mysterious Dr. Barlow and her pet Thylacen, Tazza, and the cast of characters in this book becomes quite unforgettable.  The author does magnificent world building in this book. On the Darwinist side and therefore Deryn's world, we get to meet wolf/tiger crossbreds called tigeresques, and message-carrying lizards and parrots that get their messages mixed up. On the fighting front there are bats that eat darts so that they can shoot hostile airplanes with them, and strafing hawks that catch planes in nets. The main focus of this book, however, is the flying beasties, as Deryn calls them, with their life support system of numerous accompanying animals.  On the Clanker side, war machines like the two-legged stormwalker and the multiple legged dreadnoughts and frigates, as well as airplanes and airships, threaten the lives of the Darwinist beasts.  Leviathan is a lovely, clean book of fantasy, science fiction and adventure that I want to recommend to readers of all ages. (Ellen Fritz)
    Anonymous More than 1 year ago
    Highly enjoyable, strongly recommend
    Anonymous More than 1 year ago
    Marvels at how easy it is
    Anonymous More than 1 year ago
    Fantastic edition to this creature we call lititure.
    Anonymous More than 1 year ago
    This book, no this trilogy, is by far one of the best things I've read in a long time. The characters talk of falling in love with the air beast and I too fell in love. The characters touched my heart, Deryn's struggle to conceal her identity and become a real airman and Alek's desire and determination spoke to me in a way I have not felt since the Book Theif. The idea of the Darwinist creatures was so abstract and creative I was hooked wanting to find out more about this alternate reality. Likewise, the story line was a perfect blend of adventure, history, and a little spark of romance. I just finished Goliath maybe a week ago and I really do miss it, the whole adventure gave me a warm fuzzy feeling and everyday I couldnt wait to get home so I could read more. There really is nothing like these books for me and I highly recomend them to anyone looking for something abstract or even just a good book to sit down by the fire with. Just as with the Uglies series Scott Westerfield created a fantastic world that I was reluctant to leave.
    Anonymous More than 1 year ago
    I started reading Leviathan and fell in love right away; Introduced by my older sister who loved it too We went on to read the other two titles. We loved those too. I would say this is a fantastic trilogy for teens and young adults. (Based on who I know likes it.) Scott Westerfeld is an exceptional author, this being fine works.