Behemoth by Scott Westerfeld
Behemoth is the second instalment in Westerfield’s Leviathan series, which was initially scheduled to be a trilogy concluding when Goliath is released in Oct 2011 but, according to a recent interview he gave, the series will now be a tetralogy concluding with an un-named as yet, fourth and final book. I was really looking forward to reading and reviewing this book having been sent this and it’s predecessor, Leviathan, which left me eagerly anticipating this instalment. The book features over 50 delightful illustrations provided by Keith Thompson and the audio book version is narrated by actor Alan Cumming.
Behemoth picks up where Leviathan left off with the main characters, Alek and Deryn arriving in the neutral territory of Constantinople on board the living airship Leviathan. Deryn has some tasks to attend to as assistant to Dr Nora Barlow, the first of these is to meet with the ruler in power, Sultan Mehmed V and deliver the mysterious egg cargo that they’ve carefully nutured on the voyage. All does not go well as their ceremonial procession is ambushed by some insurgents and aborted. Alek meanwhile alights the ship with his guardians, Otto Klopp and Wildcount Volger but becomes separated from them and he does not dare risk trying to get back on board the Leviathan as it seems the Ottoman empire is not as neutral as they would like when he finds evidence that the German Clankers have arrived ahead of them. Alek meets and allies himself with Zaven, one of the leaders of the local uprising, while Deryn attempts some increasingly daring, dangerous and top secret missions for
DrBarlow and the ship’s Captain, whilst trying to find Alek in the hopes she can sneak him back on board before he gets captured.
Behemoth was a really fast read, the chapters alternate in pairs between Deryn and Alek’s points of view but it doesn’t lose the reader along the way. It’s a speedily paced book with a twisting, turning plot set against the back drop of the early days of WW1 and the bartering and espionage that took place between nations. Westerfield’s mechanical creations are described in great detail and his descriptions of the living bio creations are superb. This book, like it’s predecessor, is dotted with stunning illustrations which make Behemoth a literary and visual delight. Westerfield takes good care in developing his characters and their surroundings, really placing the reader at the centre of the action. Although this book has a slightly more darker and sinister feel than Leviathan, there are several moments of levity and mirth to provide a nice overall balance and that prevents the story from becoming bleak.
The most enjoyable parts of this book for me was the character development, Westerfield gives them room to grow, and even though he introduced several new supporting characters he makes sure to give plenty of page space to the main characters so that you never lose sight of who the story is focused on, or what their goals are. Westerfield has a real knack with expressions, his characters declaring ‘try this for dinner, bum-rags!’ ‘barking stupid machines!’ ‘beasties!’ had me laughing regularly. I tip my hat to Mr Westerfield who manages to slip the word ‘perspicacious’ into the book in several places without it seeming out of place amongst the main dialogue, very slick!
And the bit I really wasn’t fond of? That would be leaving the appearance of the mighty Behemoth ship until so late in the book! With the book titled after this monstrous war ship, I really would have expected it to appear much earlier. By the time it appears and wades into battle, the fight is almost over before it started, and that I felt was a little bit anti climatic. The Behemoth was described in awesome detail and it seemed such a shame for it to feature so little and so late.
This book has a sound appeal to all genders and ages, Westerfield is very engaging writer, his characters are easy to warm to and I really couldn’t wait to see what would happen to them next. The plot moves along at a good pace and is complicated enough for older readers to enjoy, whilst being explained clearly enough for younger readers to follow. You could read this book without having read Leviathan, but I wouldn’t recommend doing that as you’ll be missing out on a great read that introduces you to the main characters and their various secrets and motivations.
It’s a great low-level introduction to some war time history points and also to some important people from history, all set in an engaging adventure plot with incredible creatures and machines that prevent it becoming a lecture.
I rate this book as 9/10 and look forward to reading Goliath when it’s released later this year.
This Behemoth book review was written by Jules Grant
All reviews for: Leviathan series
Leviathan series: Book 1
The year is 1914 and Europe, armed with futuristic machines and biotechnology, is on the precipice of war. Prince Aleksandar is fleeing for his life, having discovered that...
Leviathan series: Book 2
Have you read Behemoth?
We've found that while readers like to know what we think of a book they find additional reader reviews a massive help in deciding if it is the right book for them. So if you have a spare moment, please tell us your thoughts by writing a reader's review. Thank you.
Behemoth reader reviews
9/10 from 1 reviews
There are currently no reader reviews for this book. Why not be the first?
Write a reader review
Thank you for taking the time to write a review on this book, it really makes a difference and helps readers to find their perfect book.
More recommended reading in this genre
Mortal Engines Quartet
Long before the days of Mortal Engines, London is poised on the brink of apocalypse. Huge armoured fortresses are advancing across the wastelands - a new and terrifying kin...
Gareth L Powell
In 1944, as waves of German ninjas parachute into Kent, Britain’s best hopes for victory lie with a Spitfire pilot codenamed ‘Ack-Ack Macaque’. The troubl...
Captain Nemo: The Fantastic Adventures of a Dark Genius
Kevin J Anderson
The young Verne and his best friend Andre Nemo stow away on a ship bound for the high seas, but Jules' father catches Jules and forces him to come home in total disgrac...
In Dark Service
Jacob Carnehan has settled down. He's living a comfortable, quiet life, obeying the law and minding his own business while raising his son Carter ... on those occasions...
Art and his family are invited on a fantastic free holiday to the exotic Asteroid Belt, in a remote part of space near Mars. Taking the train, they arrive to discover that ...
A Ministry of Peculiar Occurrences
Pip Ballantine and Tee Morris
Evil is most assuredly afoot - and Britain’s fate rests in the hands of an alluring renegade... and a librarian. These are dark days indeed in Victoria’s Englan...
Grandville Mon Amour
The beefy badger DI Archie LeBrock is languishing in self-pity, driven to drink (as every good copper should be) by the guilt of Sarah’s murder. When his partner, Rod...
The Steampunk Adventurer's Guide
Bringing together an action-filled story full of automatons, airships and a dastardly plot to take over the world and instructions on how to make your own gadgets, The Stea...
A Tale of Langdon St. Ives
James P Blaylock
It is the summer of 1883 and Professor Langdon St. Ives – brilliant but eccentric scientist and explorer – is at home in Aylesford with his family. However, a f...
The Falling Machine
Andrew P Mayer
In 1880 women aren’t allowed to vote, much less dress up in a costume and fight crime… But twenty-year-old socialite Sarah Stanton still dreams of becoming a h...
A Wild West Tale
The year is 1881. The United States of America ends at the Mississippi River. Beyond lies the Indian nations, where the magic of powerful Medicine Men has halted the advanc...
Tales of the Ketty Jay
Frey is the captain of the Ketty Jay, leader of a small and highly dysfunctional band of layabouts. An inveterate womaniser and rogue, he and his gang make a living on the ...
As the serialisation beings we meet 12-year-old schoolboy Alex who, just before Christmas, receives an old toy robot from his globe-trotting grandfather. It doesn't see...
Pip Ballantine and Tee Morris
With Phoenix Rising, Phillipa Ballantine and Tee Morris have created a great addition to the growing steampunk genre and have given a new take on fighting crime. For me, th...
It was the last great science hero fight, but the energy blast ripped a hole in reality, and birthed the Empire State – a young, twisted parallel prohibition-era New ...
Looking for more suggestions? Try these pages:
Best of 2016
Journey to the Black City
On an Earth that is very much like our own, the civilizations of ancient man have been crushed; the giant glaciers that cover the northern part of the globe continue, even now...
Books of the Month
A selection of books - old and new alike - that were a joy to read.
When Vivian is evacuated from London in 1939, she expects to be staying in the countryside. Instead, she is whisked away to Time City – a place that exists outside time and space. It is a strange and remarkable place, where technology rules – yet important events of both past and future are marked by the appearance of mysterious Time...
The Guns of Empire
As the roar of the guns subsides and the smoke of battle clears, the country of Vordan is offered a fragile peace... After their shattering defeats at the hands of brillian...
At the Convent of Sweet Mercy young girls are raised to be killers. In a few the old bloods show, gifting talents rarely seen since the tribes beached their ships on Abeth....
Events are coming to a climax in the Banished Lands, as the war reaches new heights. King Nathair has taken control of the fortress at Drassil and three of the Seven Treasu...
For Kivrin Engle, preparing an on-site study of one of the deadliest eras in humanity's history was as simple as receiving inoculations against the diseases of the four...
The Banished Lands are engulfed in war and chaos. The cunning Queen Rhin has conquered the west and High King Nathair has the cauldron, most powerful of the seven treasures...