Sunday, November 13, 2011

Goliath by Scott Westerfeld

Goliath, the final installment in the Leviathan trilogy, is the best of the three books. The story centers mainly around Nikola Tesla, a Serbian inventor, who in real life, made many discoveries in the area of electricity, and who in Goliath believes that he has the ultimate weapon capable of stopping the carnage of World War I. In the Leviathan series, Tesla is a "Clanker boffin, a maker of German secret weapons" and the inventor of the Tesla cannon, a lightning weapon that almost destroyed the Leviathan in Behemoth.

The growing relationship between Deryn and Alex and their conflicted feelings for one another, she a commoner and he a royal prince, adds the requisite romantic tension to the novel.

The story opens with both Alex and Dylan (Deryn) aboard the Leviathan on their way to some secret destination in Northern Siberia. There, in the region of the Tunguska River, they rescue the renowned scientist, Nikola Tesla and his crew of Russians. The Tunguska River area has been devastated by some kind of massive explosion, which Tesla claims is the result of his doomsday machine - Goliath. However, Dr. Barlow, the British scientist onboard the Leviathan doesn't think this is likely. She believes there might be an alternative explanation for what has happened in the region.

In the meantime, Dr. Tesla has managed to convince the British Admiralty that the Leviathan should journey to New York, whetr Tesla will demonstrate his secret weapon's ability to inflict massive destruction, thus convincing the Germans, Austrians and British to end the war. Alex forms an alliance with Tesla, believing that stopping the war is his destiny. However, soon he realizes that the situation may not be as it appears. Has he aligned himself with a madman, or with a brilliant scientist capable of performing the impossible and stopping a terrible world wide conflict?

Filled with the necessary battles, crises and twists, unusual creatures and alternate versions of history, Goliath builds to an exciting but satisfyingly predictable conclusion. There were many aspects of Goliath that I enjoyed; the strong female characters, the touch of romance and the merging together of both Clanker and Darwinist technology, especially the gradual acceptance in both Deryn and Alex of aspects of both societies. There are the fantastical creatures bred by the Darwinists; two headed eagles, three meter tall bulls and so forth. But perhaps the most ingenious are the chatty and "perspicacious" lorises who evolve into delightful "characters" in this novel, adding a touch of humour here and there.

Once again the book is illustrated with the beautiful pencil sketches of Keith Thompson and has a great cover featuring the two attractive young protagonists.

Goliath is a welcome conclusion to Westerfeld's innovative steampunk trilogy.

Book Details:
Goliath by Scott Westerfeld
New York: Simon Pulse

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