Behemoth is the second book in an alternate history trilogy by Scott Westerfeld. Continuing from his first book Leviathan, Behemoth follows the main characters Aleksander and Deryn back into the world of diesel powered war machines and giant monstrosities.
Keeping the spoilers to a minimum, Behemoth has our duo enter the Ottoman capital of Istanbul. The Ottoman empire is an interesting enigma; while they are aligned with the German clankers, their philosophy is still pretty much naturalistic and mystical, with all their machines built along more organic and elegant aesthetics. We also meet a representative of the Americans, who dabble in both Clanker as well as Darwinist technology without committing to one or the other.
The plot does seem to move at a good pace, with an interesting array of supporting characters in the new book. The dynamic between Deryn and Aleksander does seem a bit run of the mill however, with Deryn harboring feelings for him. Also a tad annoying is Alek’s new pet, who does seem a bit too deus-ex/foreshadowy for its own good.
As usual though, the world is my main draw. It’s really interesting to see how a more religious society would integrate technology, and Keith Thompson’s art is a sight to behold. The animal and mythical inspired machines of the Ottoman empire have an elegance that the German Clankers lack. It’s also nice to see some things we have heard of (the Orient Express in this case) given a Dieselpunk makeover.
Behemoth does seem a bit weaker than the first book, but perhaps that is the curse of the middle trilogy book; relegated to exposition without much to show for it. Still, the story is more than worth the price of admission, and Scott Westerfeld and Keith Thompson provide yet another inspired look into their world of what-ifs and what might have beens.
Behemoth is currently available as an iBook and in the US, and should be available in Singapore in a week.