Saturday, August 16, 2014

Behemoth

Behemoth: A Penny Dreadful Review

One does not meet a flying whale every day.  I was thrilled to read Behemoth, the sequel to Scott Westerfeld’s Leviathan wherein the flying whaleship returns for more adventures.
Behemoth opens where Leviathan left off.  Prince Alek and his Austrians are aboard the English living airship Leviathan, having collaborated and escaped their last perilous situation.  The British do not trust the Austrians, as there is a war on between their respective countries.  Dylan Sharp, the midshipman who is really a girl named Deryn in disguise, has developed a crush on the fugitive prince.  Dr. Barlow, the inscrutable scientist, still has both of them caring for her mysterious eggs.  The Leviathan motors toward Istanbul, intending to convince the sultan of the Ottoman Empire to stay out of the war.  Of course, nothing goes as planned.
Alek escapes the increasingly suspicious English, but must leave some of his men behind.  The Germans have a secret weapon meant to destroy the Leviathan.  The gift of peace that Dr. Barlow offers the sultan is ruined.  “Mr.” Sharp’s secret mission goes terribly wrong.  Alek joins forces with revolutionaries, one of whom is an attractive young lady; the Germans chase him all over Istanbul; and to top it off, there’s an American reporter dogging their footsteps.
This being the second in a trilogy, the ending is unsettled and not exactly upbeat, just as it should be.  I can’t wait to find out what happens in the third volume, Goliath.
The mad science is just as enchanting in this book as it was in the last one.  Nay, even more so, because the mechanisms employed by the Ottoman Empire are entirely different from those in Germany and Austria.  We even glimpse a society that uses both genetically manipulated animals and fantastic machinery.
Oh, and the illustrations!  The illustrations have returned and are more amazing than they were in Leviathan.  I adore every sketch by Keith Thompson.  I loved how the art was more integrated into the text of this book.  I would turn the page to find a German walking machine crawling past the bottom of my text and it was delightful!  I rather miss illustrations.  I wish they would put them into books for adults.
I give Behemoth four and a half gears out of five.  Go to the nearest bookseller and obtain one immediately.  No, wait, one must read Leviathan first or one will have no idea what is happening.  Obtain them both!

Your Correspondent from the Bookstore,
Penny J. Merriweather