RogerBW's Blog

Behemoth, Scott Westerfeld 03 October 2018

2010 young adult steampunk SF, second of a trilogy. As an alternate Great War is beginning, the airship Leviathan visits Istanbul to give a British bribe to the Ottoman Sultan. But much more is going on behind the scenes.

Certainly it's not worth starting the series here; there's some minor catching-up and orientation, but mostly it's on with the action, as Alek (hidden heir to the Austro-Hungarian Empire) and Deryn (girl-disguised-as-a-boy midshipman) have various adventures in Constantinople (or Istanbul, as the locals would prefer they call it). Without the slow start telling us who people are and how the technology works, there's rather more happening in this book, though it's largely episodic rather than forming a single overall narrative.

Deryn groaned, her stomach winding into the same tight coils it always did when she was contemplating treason.

More to the point, the principals (and indeed some of the secondary characters) do some significant growing up; this time I could believe in them as adolescents, rather than the children they felt like in the first book. There's still nothing one could really call deep characterisation, but it does its job.

There's a certain amount of middle-volume blah here, especially with the introduction of the Perspicacious Loris which on the basis of its appearance here exists primarily to dispense plot tokens at the appropriate moment. This may improve later; other people find it charming.

There are still elements of real history here, with a varient pursuit of Goeben and Breslau (plus Tesla cannon!), and a somewhat delayed revolution by the Young Turks among others, but they're combined with various fantasy-naval activities round the Bosporus and a moderately gratuitous mention of Gallipoli.

It's still nothing mind-boggling, but it's good workmanlike stuff and an improvement on the first volume. Followed by Goliath.

[Buy this at Amazon] and help support the blog.

Add A Comment

Your Name
Your Email
Your Comment

Your submission will be ignored if any field is left blank, but your email address will not be displayed. Comments will be processed through markdown.

Search
Archive
Tags 1920s 1930s 1940s 1950s 1960s 1970s 1980s 1990s 2000s 2010s 3d printing action aeronautics aikakirja anecdote animation anime army astronomy audio tech base commerce battletech beer boardgaming bookmonth chain of command children chronicle church of no redeeming virtues cold war comedy computing contemporary cornish smuggler cosmic encounter coup cycling dead of winter doctor who documentary drama driving drone ecchi economics espionage essen 2015 essen 2016 essen 2017 existential risk falklands war fandom fantasy film firefly first world war flash point food garmin drive gazebo geodata gin gurps gurps 101 harpoon historical history horror hugo 2014 hugo 2015 hugo 2016 hugo 2017 hugo 2018 hugo-nebula reread in brief avoid instrumented life kickstarter learn to play leaving earth linux mecha museum mystery naval non-fiction one for the brow opera perl photography podcast politics powers prediction privacy project woolsack pyracantha quantum rail ranting raspberry pi reading reading boardgames social real life restaurant reviews romance rpg a day rpgs science fiction scythe second world war security shipwreck simutrans smartphone south atlantic war squaddies stationery steampunk stuarts suburbia superheroes suspense television the resistance thirsty meeples thriller tin soldier torg toys trailers travel vietnam war war wargaming weather wives and sweethearts writing about writing x-wing young adult
Special All book reviews, All film reviews
Produced by aikakirja v0.1