I’ve finally read Goliath, the last book in Scott Westerfeld’s YA, steampunk Leviathan trilogy. YAY! Definitely worth the wait! Awesome book! Awesome trilogy! I want more! (Get the feeling I may like these books?)
I read and reviewed the first book, Leviathan, in August last year (see “Leviathan”). I was a little late, jumping onto the bandwagon… but that meant I had less of a wait for the second book, Behemoth. But because I read that one straight away, I then had a horribly long wait (it seemed like so much more than just one year) until the release of Goliath. Even though each book has it’s own story, the plots are very much connected and form a larger whole. Although none of the books end on a cliff-hanger, the endings leave so many plot points and character issues dangling, that these books really would be better off read in quick succession.
There is so much that I love about these books — the characters, the setting, the plot and the inventive use of actual historic events and people within the fictitious world. But I’m going to start with the aesthetics. The books are illustrated throughout by Keith Thompson, with beautifully detailed black and white drawings. I have the hardcover editions, each of which has a gorgeous colour illustration at the front of the book. The dust jackets are also wonderful — a combination of photographs and Thompson’s illustrations with metallic embossing. They are very ‘touchy-feely’’ and a pure joy to hold and gaze at.
I can’t write about these books without mentioning the HUGENESS of the titles — Leviathan, Behemoth and Goliath. Each of these names refers to a massive vehicle/creature/weapon that plays an important role in the story. I like evocative, one-word titles, and these immediately conjure up images of gargantuan creatures and epic tales. Very appropriate!
I love the world that Westerfeld has created. It’s an alternative history around the time of the First World War. The world is divided into Clankers and Darwinists — the former devoted to the use of steam-driven machinery while the latter rely on the fabrication of astonishing creatures through genetic engineering. Putting this world within a recognisable context of historic events (such as the assassination of Archduke Franz Ferdinand and the Tunguska explosion) gives it a link to reality, as does the inclusion of historic figures such a Nikola Tesla. It’s also rather fun playing ‘spot the historic figure’.
The plot involves many intricacies, but centres on the characters of Aleksandar, Prince of Hohenberg, on the run from his own countrymen; and Deryn Sharp, a girl disguised as a boy. The whole ‘girl disguised as boy’ plotline is an old one, but Westerfeld makes it work. Despite the fact that we all know it will be resolved with romance, it still makes for an enjoyable, page-turning read. And that’s primarily due to the characters — they are likeable, and interesting and ‘real’… and by the end of the third book I was desperate for them to fall in love. (Okay, so I’m an old romantic at heart.) My wife, who also loved these books, would have liked the romance to have been upped a notch or two. (Not sure if that’s a representatively female viewpoint… or just her?)
My only disappointment is that Goliath is the last book. I want more! It’s such a fascinating and intricate world, with so many possibilities. I would love to see Westerfeld introduce some new characters and let us explore more of this world through their eyes. If you happen to be reading this, Mr Westerfeld, (Can I call you Scott? No? Never mind.), please consider this a plea for a decalogy.
If you haven’t read these books… WHY NOT? They’re brilliant! You should read them. Take my word for it. 🙂
Catch ya later, George
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