Leviathan by Scott Westerfield

January 9, 2013
Leviathan, a sci-fi historical fiction book (the first of a trilogy) is a book that is centered at the events leading up and into World War I, or the Great War. The twist, however, is it is centered in a different way of life, a different dimension, so to speak. Germany, Austria-Hungary, and the Ottoman Empire rely on machines (think walkers from Star Wars) they call walkers as their form of war. Germany, Austria-Hungary, and the Ottoman Empire are known as the Clanker powers. Britain relies on artificially fabricated animals, commonly referred to as "beasties," as their main way of warfare.

Alek, also known as Prince Aleksander Ferdinand of Austria-Hungary, is on the run from the Germans and his own people who have rebelled against him after his parents were assassinated by the Germans in hope of starting a war. He escapes with Wildcount Volger, a fencing master, Otto Klopp, the Austrian-Hungarian master of mechanics, and Bauer and Hoffman, two troops still loyal to Alek.

Deryn Sharp longs to join the British Air Force and become a midshipman aboard Britain's largest airship, a humongous fabricated whale which serves as a zeppelin. However, you must be sixteen years old and a boy to join the British Air Force, but Deryn is not only fifteen years old, but also a girl. She poses as an extra tough sixteen-year-old, and while she proves she can stay calm under tough situations when her small Huxley airship goes out of control, she is admitted into the service as 'Dylan' Sharp.

Alek leaves his own country with fear of his people in a battered Cyklops Stormwalker with the help of his four faithful men. They head towards Switzerland in hope of escaping into the neutral territory, where they will be safe. After evading Austrian-Hungarian and German dreadnoughts at the Switzerland border, they reside for a few days in an old, abandoned castle, where Count Volger reveals that his father had prepared in case of war. Count Volger also reveals a secret letter that gives the whole of Austria-Hungary as an inheritance to Alek.

Deryn trains as a midshipman aboard the Leviathan until it is attacked by a dozen German planes on a top-secret mission to Constantinople in the Ottoman Empire. After defeating the Germans, the Leviathan is wounded severely and crash lands into Switzerland.

Alek sees the Leviathan crash into the Swiss Alps and goes to investigate during the night. He finds Deryn, or 'Dylan,' wounded and knocked out in the snow. He wakes her up and saves her from near death from frostbite. Wildcount Volger and the rest of Alek's comrades rush towards the downed airship after they find out Alek is missing, and they are accepted by friends. The rest of the book tells of Alek and Deryn's struggle to heal the Leviathan and a final battle with two German zeppelins.

This book was very good. Scott Westerfield combines the two genres of science fiction and historical fiction into one story that I enjoyed reading. It's a mid-sized book, but a quick read. I would recommend the Leviathan to anybody who needn't be a good reader, but enjoys mystery, action, and good old science fiction.

My Rating: 4/5 Stars.

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