Sunday, June 12, 2016

Book Review: Goliath by Scott Westerfeld

After their success in assisting the people of Istanbul I overthrowing their sultan and forming a republic, Alek and Deryn ind their position aboard the Leviathan to be shaky. The world knows who Alek is now, and being a Clanker prince aboard a Darwinist ship has put him in a precarious position. What will the British do with him? Keep him prisoner? Make a puppet of an emperor out of him? And how much longer can Deryn keep up her charade of being a boy? Someone other than Count Volger is bound to find out eventually?

The Leviathan’s trip is detoured to pick up a stranded inventor by the name of Nikola Tesla, the man who has supposedly tamed lightning. Tesla’s new weapon, Goliath, could end the war, or so he claims. All it is going to take is a single firing…

That's my summary. Here's the one I pulled from

Alek and Deryn are on the last leg of their round-the-world quest to end World War I, reclaim Alek’s throne as prince of Austria, and finally fall in love. The first two objectives are complicated by the fact that their ship, the Leviathan, continues to detour farther away from the heart of the war (and crown). And the love thing would be a lot easier if Alek knew Deryn was a girl. (She has to pose as a boy in order to serve in the British Air Service.) And if they weren’t technically enemies.


World War I is warming up, but our characters seem to be constantly on the fringes of things, manipulating (or trying to manipulate) the outcome of the war from the outside. Alek and Deryn don’t see serious ground combat, but being in an airship doesn’t really allow itself to getting involved in ground combat. We do see air and even marine battles, exploring Clanker technology and Darwinist fabricated beasts in combat. Just seeing how the different perspective— how technology could have been— puts the war in a completely different light. Even seeing how different countries’ cultures effect how the same technologies are used is amazing. Different Darwinist countries create different beasts, for example.

What we’re seeing in Goliath is how sides are fighting to bring America into a war that is already raging in Europe. It is a wonderful take on war without involving serious, gory battles.


As the final installment of the trilogy, there isn’t a whole lot I can say about Goliath that wasn’t already said in my review of Leviathan and Behemoth. Westerfeld’s writing style is consistent and strong, with very clear action and characterization techniques that are easy to read yet fully pull the reader into the world. Even with little knowledge of history (I am just NOT a fan of history) I recognized at least names and the basic events. You don’t need to be a WWI buff to get what’s going on here. Casual name dropping, like a single mention of Thomas Edison, was a little chocolate chunk in the cookie that is this novel. There are so many little tidbits that are enjoyable that it’s like getting peppered with inside jokes while reading. It makes for some very pleasant little moments.

My Thoughts

Goliath was a perfect close to an amazing trilogy. The plot specific to the novel itself is complete and individual, while the overarcing plot of the whole trilogy is moved forward at the same comfortable pace established in the first two books. It’s a satisfying mesh of trilogy plot and book plot keeps the reader from getting bored at any moment, and the introduction of how things are in America just added to the fun— at least for me, as an American reader. It was like coming home. I couldn’t wait to see how America developed under its mixing of Darwinist and Clanker influences. Mention of there still being lines drawn from the Civil War— a war that was mentioned as still going on, at least in some ways, for over 50 years now— was so intriguing to me that I could hardly contain myself. I would be ecstatic if Westerfeld wrote a book or two about the American Civil War in this alternate history world. Westerfeld has completely earned my respect and awe in his writing of this trilogy, and I am sad to be finished with it.

Would I Recommend This Book? As with the previous two novels of the trilogy, absolutely! You can’t leave the trilogy unfinished! This will give you amazing closure on the characters, a fitting end to an amazing journey. I would say I can’t pick a favorite book out of the trilogy, but I think that would be a lie. If I had to rate them, it would be Leviathan, Goliath, Behemoth. But know that the spread between them is slim. They are perfect compliments to one another and are worth a read for anyone. I give Goliath a secret-revealing 4 out of 5 stars.

For the trilogy as a whole, I give a hydrogen-breathing 4.5 out of 5 stars.

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