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Leviathan, by Scott Westerfield

May 18, 2010

WesterfieldLeviathan is about two different characters, each with different plots. One character is Aleksandar Ferdinand, the prince of the Austro-Hungarian Empire. His parents are assassinated when he is at home, and he is tricked into running in a Stormwalker, a giant two-legged walking weapon of war by Autto Clop and Count Volger, two of his teachers. Then Alek learns that his parents were assassinated, and runs to Sweden to get away from the people that assassinated his parents. Germans and Austro-Hungarians chase them all the way to Sweden because Alek’s mother is a commoner and they don’t want him to be king.

The other character is Deryn Sharp, a girl that enlists in the British Air Force disguised as a boy. On her first day, because of an accident with a Huxley ascender, a flying jellyfish-like animal, she ends up on the Leviathan, a famous living airship. Then they pick up an important passenger and Deryn gets involved with a mission while trying to keep her own secret safe. When the Leviathan crashes near Alek, both plots come together with both of them on board the airship.

Leviathan is set in World War I in terms of political events, but the technology is set in the future, that is why its genre is alternate history, not sci-fi and not like a war journal. The British Darwists have fabricated animals. They have hydrogen-breathing animals that fly like the Leviathan and the Huxley and they almost never use machinery. The Germans and Austro-Hungarians have Clankers, effective robots. All of the political events are the same and the only change in history is that Charles Darwin discovered how DNA works and the Germans and Austro-Hungarians made advances in engineering. Each side doesn’t like the other’s advancement. For example, the Germans and Austro-Hungarians are scared of the fabricated animals, because they think that they are unnatural. The British think that the machines are useless because you have to oil and clean them and they sometimes malfunction. Leviathan is a great book, definitely worth reading.


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