It is the cusp of World War I. The Austro-Hungarians and Germans have their Clankers, steam-driven iron machines loaded with guns and ammunition. The British Darwinists employ genetically fabricated animals as their weaponry. Their Leviathan is a whale airship, and the most masterful beast in the British fleet.
Aleksandar Ferdinand, a Clanker, and Deryn Sharp, a Darwinist, are on opposite sides of the war. But their paths cross in the most unexpected way, taking them both aboard the Leviathan on a fantastical, around-the-world adventure….One that will change both their lives forever.
Review by Patrick:
Wow. This book... the world the story lives in, is phenomenal. I can't even fathom how Scott Westerfeld came up with such an invention. He's written some pretty crazy stuff (nothing I haven't liked), but this might take the cake.
So jumping into this book without reading the gist of the story might leave you a little dazed. This book is an alternate history book in the time of World War I. Instead of the Allies and the Central Powers, you have the Darwinists and the Clankers. The Darwinists are in the belief that creatures can be 'fabricated' to do the bidding of their human creators. These creatures are fantastical creations with abilities that can only come with imagination, but everything is explained within the reasonably possible, so it feels very real. The Clankers are "Steam Punk," and way more advanced than the present day (presumably because they have to keep up with the creations of the animals, but anyways). These guys have machines that can do incredible things. Ever read or played Mech Warrior? These machines are in this book; the only difference is that they run on kerosene.
|Not quite this, but animals do fight (in their own way)|
|And not quite this either (no lasers)|
So that paragraph should help you with some of the terminology before getting into the books. Now for the story. This book is told from really two points of view, one on either side of the war. A lowly girl (who shouldn't be allowed into the British ranks), and the son of Archduke Franz Ferdinad (who you may have heard before). The two stories are both very interesting and keep you on your toes, but eventually they both merge together.