Tuesday, 5 November 2013

Leviathan series

I've just finished Scott Westerfield's series of steampunk books: Leviathan, Behemoth and Goliath, and most enjoyable they were too.

Be Warned: these are Young Adult books and primarily centre around two youths caught up in a re-imagined WW1, so no complicated plot lines here.  But the best part of it is the background and detail that Westerfield has put into creating his alternate WW1 which in 1914 is setup exactly as the real world but for their technology

The Leviathan! From http://www.keiththompsonart.com/
The Allies are known as Darwinists and as the name suggests, utilise fabricated creatures to do everything.  So much so that mechanical power has been almost entirely replaced by beast power.  The main storyline focuses around a British Air Service airship, the Leviathan.  The Leviathan is a massive whale like creature which generates Helium and stores it in internal pockets, and has over a hundred symbiotic species that do other functions: glowworms for light without flame, flechette dropping attack bats, message lizards that provide a communications system, bees which harvest food from the environment and bring it back to the Leviathan to sustain it, etc.  The whole ecosystem approach and methods of controlling the beasties was pretty clever and was what grabbed me with this series.  The allies also have other awesomeness such as Kraken who hunt the seas, and massive attack bears and Mammoths in the Russian army.

Conversely, the Central Powers are known as the Clankers and embrace machinery.  As a result they have some very nifty toys from attack walkers to land battleships, and seagoing monitors mounting tesla cannons.
When the Navy Walked indeed! From http://www.keiththompsonart.com/
One of my favourite parts from Leviathan: German aerial stormtroopers! From http://www.keiththompsonart.com/

So overall I quite enjoyed this series of books for its wonderful WW1 flavour and the thoughtful divergence of technology.  Many, many modelling and gaming ideas here!  The only drawback is the young adult aspects, but then again these will be under Christmas tree for my lad so they also serve a different purpose!


PS When you've finished all three books, read the bonus epilogue chapter here - no peaking!



ColKillgore said...

I have Leviathan setting on the book shelf. I need to move it up in the reading queue.


Squirmydad said...

Also recommended. :)
I read the first and I love the art and the concepts. Even if you don't like the stories they make a great source for modelling inspiration.

An exploration of debauchery, vice and other reasons to be a man!

An exploration of debauchery, vice and other reasons to be a man!