An eight-legged thousand-ton iron frigate that moves like a deadly giant spider over a frozen wasteland. A flying eco-system battleship made up of a sperm whale, bees, bats, falcons and hydrogen gas. These are just two of the amazing creations you will discover within the pages of Westerfeld’s startling new steampunk series. It’s the Austrio-German Clankers vs. the Franco-Bristish Darwinists in this alternate re-imagining of the beginnings of the Great War. In Westerfeld’s version, the European powers have split into two schools of military might: The Clankers, who believe in the power of iron and steam, and the Darwinists, who have used Charles Darwin’s recently discovered strands of DNA to fashion organic fighting machines, like the whale-based Leviathan of the title. When Austrian Archduke Franz Ferdinand and his wife are assassinated, their trusted advisors spirit away their only child, Prince Alek, to the safety of an abandoned castle in the middle of a wintery no-man’s land. Meanwhile, British tomboy Deryn Sharp has disguised herself as a boy in order to join the Royal Air Service, which uses Darwin’s principles to fabricate animals into viable war machines. When these two strong willed characters meet under the most unlikely of circumstances, it’s anyone’s guess whether oil or octopi will prevail. Is it possible for Clankers and Darwinists to learn to work together? Or is world war inevitable when these two mighty military powers clash? I already know what most of you are thinking right now: Is Westerfeld’s latest creation as bubbly-making as his totally tubular Uglies series? Well, we’re talking about a completely different beastie here altogether, kids–more of a Mortal Engines meets Airborn with a little evolutionary biology thrown in for good measure. But one thing’s for certain—Westerfeld has kicked off his new series with bang, averaging more battles and bombings per chapter than a textbook on both World Wars combined. If nonstop-action and edge of your seat suspense is your cup of java, then this roaring, clanking, hissing, spitting, steaming trilogy opener is perfect for you, gentle reader. (And the rich illustrations by Keith Thompson that bring vivid life to Westerfeld’s incredible monsters and machines aren’t too shabby, either!) Just make sure to do more than glance over the author’s note in the back so’s you can tell the difference between fact and fiction in this larger than life alternate history.
Leviathan by Scott Westerfeld