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Behemoth | [Scott Westerfeld]

Behemoth

The behemoth is the fiercest creature in the British navy. It can swallow enemy battleships with one bite. The Darwinists will need it, now that they are at war with the Clanker powers. Deryn is a girl posing as a boy in the British Air Service, and Alek is the heir to an empire posing as a commoner. Finally together aboard the airship Leviathan, they hope to bring the war to a halt. But when disaster strikes the Leviathan's peacekeeping mission, they find themselves alone and hunted in enemy territory.
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Audible Editor Reviews

Set during World War I, Behemoth tells a steampunk-esque alternate history. As in real life, the assassination of Archduke Franz Ferdinand triggers the conflict, but in Behemoth, the archduke has a secret heir whose life must be preserved at all costs. That is not the only historical divergence from reality, however — not by a long shot. Behemoth features a familiar sociopolitical landscape but radically different scientific one. In this world, the British and other Allies are known as “Darwinists”, as their knowledge of biological sciences is super-advanced, to the point where instead of airplanes, they have giant, living airships (such as the eponymous Behemoth), and instead of something like walkie-talkies, they have messenger lizards. The Germans, meanwhile, are known as the “Clankers”, and they have eschewed the use of the biological creatures in favor of mechanical might; so where the Darwinists might have a giant, living airship, the Clankers would have giant mechs and other mechanical marvels.

Behemoth, the second book in the series (following 2009’s Leviathan), takes the protagonists — British midshipman Deryn Sharp, and Prince Alek, heir to the throne of Austria — to Constantinople, a city where the Darwinist and Clanker philosophies collide. There, the two are thrust into an explosive political machine that threatens to destroy all they’ve worked for, even as both Darwinist and Clanker factions attempt to sway the Ottoman Empire into joining their side in the conflict.

Every bit as full of a sense of wonder as its predecessor, Behemoth is a thrilling, masterful piece of fiction, a sterling example of what alternate history, steampunk, and speculative fiction is capable of. Peppered with enough details from real history to lend the book a rich authenticity, Westerfeld spins the story in wildly new directions at the same time. Although Behemoth is categorized as a young adult novel, it’s really a must-listen for anyone who enjoys speculative and/or historical fiction — no matter their age.

Veteran and highly regarded actor of the stage and screen Alan Cumming’s performance is nothing short of enthralling. His Scottish brogue lightly accents his narration, but disappears or transforms into something else entirely when voicing the dialogue of the Austrian Prince Alek and the German Clankers and the other characters. Likewise, he does an excellent job portraying the teenage Deryn, a girl passing herself off as a boy. Somewhat subdued, without much vocal trickery, Cumming’s narration is simply a pleasure to listen to.

A brilliant book plus brilliant narration equals a surefire contender for audiobook of the year. —John Joseph Adams

Publisher's Summary

The behemoth is the fiercest creature in the British navy. It can swallow enemy battleships with one bite. The Darwinists will need it, now that they are at war with the Clanker powers.

Deryn is a girl posing as a boy in the British Air Service, and Alek is the heir to an empire posing as a commoner. Finally together aboard the airship Leviathan, they hope to bring the war to a halt. But when disaster strikes the Leviathan's peacekeeping mission, they find themselves alone and hunted in enemy territory.

Alek and Deryn will need great skill, new allies, and brave hearts to face what's ahead.

©2010 Scott Westerfeld (P)2010 Simon and Schuster Audio

What Members Say

Average Customer Rating

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  •  
    James Buda, TX, United States 05-06-12
    James Buda, TX, United States 05-06-12 Member Since 2012

    Is he a dot, or is he a speck? When he's underwater does he get wet? Or does the water get him instead? Nobody knows, Particle man.

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    "More complications. More adventure. Well worth it!"

    In case you hadn't noticed this series revolves around a love story, but a bit of an odd one. No surprise there for a YA book. The friendship between Deryn and Alek that began in Leviathan has unleashed feelings of a more complicated nature... at least for one of them. Deryn still manages to keep her gender a secret from Alek, but not from all others. And despite the obvious direction her feelings are leading her she continues her ability to conceal that particular secret from even herself.

    Oh, and the world is still at war too providing an opportunity for further excitement. This time around the Clankers and Darwinists vie for the allegiance of the Ottoman empire. Our intrepid heroes find themselves separated for a time pursuing their own paths as they try to find their own place in the world as anyone their age longs to. Inevitably their paths reunite them in Istanbul. Here Westerfeld decides to take a further detour from history and throw Deryn and Alek into a hotbed of revolution that just may lead the Ottomans down a different path from the one we read about in our history books. Ever the loyal midshipman, Deryn focuses on finding a way to use the events to fulfill her duty to king and country while staying loyal to her friends. Alek seeks an opportunity to use what resources are left to him to aid a cause he can believe in.

    Their enterprises are exuberantly related yet again by Alan Cumming, still one of the best readers I have had the pleasure to listen to.

    3 of 3 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Jack Seattle, WA, United States 10-13-11
    Jack Seattle, WA, United States 10-13-11
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    "A nice follow up to Leviathan"
    What made the experience of listening to Behemoth the most enjoyable?

    The incredible characters were the best part of Behemoth. All the folks in Instanbul who Deryn and Alek meet are pretty cool, and the rebellion which they ferment is well brought off.


    What other book might you compare Behemoth to and why?

    It fits right into the rest of the trilogy. Since each ends on a bit of a cliff hanger, you will want to listen to each one!


    Which character – as performed by Alan Cumming – was your favorite?

    i rather liked Volger - he's rascally & pretty cool as narrated here.


    Any additional comments?

    On to book 3!

    5 of 6 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Emily 12-14-11
    Emily 12-14-11

    The opposite of bravery is not cowardice but conformity. --Robert Anthony Contentment is, after all, simply refined indolence. --Thomas C.

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    "Fabulous!"
    Would you listen to Behemoth again? Why?

    Oh yes, I would happily listen again. This is a great sequel to Leviathon, which ended on a bit of a cliffhanger. Here we get introduced to Instanbul & Deryn and Alek's adventures in formenting revolution in the city and how they help the British Darwinists.


    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Ryan Somerville, MA, United States 10-27-11
    Ryan Somerville, MA, United States 10-27-11 Member Since 2005

    Gen-Xer, software engineer, and lifelong avid reader. Soft spots for sci-fi, fantasy, and history, but I'll read anything good.

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    "Good continuation"

    If you're looking for some good young adult reading material, this is a fine series. Westerfield's setting is a re-imagining of the world at the time of World War I, but with the two sides armed with fantastical steampunk technology. The British and their Darwinist allies use fabricated (genetically engineered) creatures, such as living airships, while the Clanker Germans and Austrians rely on sophisticated machinery.

    Behemoth, the second book in the series, continues at the same rolicking pace as the first, this time in the Ottoman capital of Istanbul. The story's two protagonists, a young British airman (who is actually a girl in disguise) and a deposed teenage heir to Austria's throne, are both appealing characters, and play off one another in a fun way. Westerfield does a decent job of blending the real-life history of World War I with his own world creation, using the ideological differences between the Darwinist and the Clanker powers as part of the story's backdrop (one wonders if his version of America, which apparently follows both paths, will feature in the next book). However, compared to its predecessor, this is a more straight-up adventure story, and I thought that a bit of the tragic historical resonance that I liked about Leviathan got lost among the gadgets and creatures.

    Still, the young target audience is unlikely to mind. If you happen to be a parent looking for reading material for your children, there's no profanity or sex, and I can't say that the violence would get more than a PG rating. Also, the audiobook reader does a pretty good job with voices. His portrayal of Deryn's Scottish accent and Alek's Austrian one are now part of the charm for me.

    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Arwen BOISE, ID, United States 10-26-11
    Arwen BOISE, ID, United States 10-26-11 Member Since 2009

    I am a book junkie...I read and enjoy a variety of stories, so please don't "define me" by one book or review! :)

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    "The Adventure Continues!"

    Here continues the engaging adventure that began in Leviathan...Aleks, Deryn and the others are vivid and winning characters. The writing is intelligent and informative but does not forget a sense of humor! Superb narration by Alan Cumming

    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
  •  
    wendy NJ 10-01-11
    wendy NJ 10-01-11 Member Since 2004

    Tell us about yourself!

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    "Loved this story"

    Great story! I grabbed this as soon as I'd finished up Leviathan as that one ended on a bit of a cliffhanger. Half way through, and the story is carrying on grandly! Can't wait to see what the perspicacious loris turns out to be & where Deryn and Aleks go next.

    5 of 7 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Jim "The Impatient" Springfield, MO, United States 12-18-13
    Jim "The Impatient" Springfield, MO, United States 12-18-13 Member Since 2010

    I will listen to NO boring book. Old Fav's,Card, King , Hobb. New Fav's, Hill, Scalzi, Sawyer, Interested in Lansdale, Crouch, Konrath

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    "OUR MEETING IS PROVIDENCE"

    Fabricated beasts, poisonous barnacles and steam spewing mechanical monsters are all things I enjoy. BARKING SPIDERS, I should have enjoyed this. This is my third Westerfeld novel and I like the subjects he writes about. I just could not get into this book. When you write in this genre, you need to keep coming up with new monsters, new inventions, new wow stuff and or have well developed, well loved or hated characters. I found this book too be almost exactly the same as book one, only a different location.

    In this book, I lost all respect for the main characters. Darren would rather climb a tree and tell a lie, then stand on the ground and tell the truth. Every time she turns around she commits treason. The British Military is not only oblivious to the fact that they have a girl masquerading as a boy, they never catch her in her many treasons. Every time she thinks she has been caught they promote her and give her more responsibilities. Alex's life and his nation depends upon his ability to keep a secret. The phrase, he couldn't keep a secret to save his life, is so apt here, but Westerfeld lets him get by with it. I know this is a YA novel, but that does not excuse making these characters so stupid or the British Military so ignorant.

    2 of 3 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Michey Las Vegas 04-16-14
    Michey Las Vegas 04-16-14 Member Since 2011
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    "Compelling somehow"
    What made the experience of listening to Behemoth the most enjoyable?

    Alan Cumming is the one of the best narrators. He brings life and interest and accents to the characters that wouldn't be there either way.


    What was one of the most memorable moments of Behemoth?

    All I can really think of was when Dillon/Deryn was messing with the kraken nets. Like, how crazy is that, just in general.


    Have you listened to any of Alan Cumming’s other performances before? How does this one compare?

    I heard the first book in this series read by Alan and he is just excellent.


    Was there a moment in the book that particularly moved you?

    I like how awesome and strong Dillon/Deryn is. She's just great and is always trying to do her best.


    Any additional comments?

    It's such a weird but familiar story. It's a good time.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Amazon Customer TROY, MI, United States 12-07-13
    Amazon Customer TROY, MI, United States 12-07-13
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    "Fun Flights, Flying and"
    Where does Behemoth rank among all the audiobooks you’ve listened to so far?

    Most fun audiobook I've listened to yet! The story sucked me in. I think any girl who's been underestimated can relate to Daryn.


    What does Alan Cumming bring to the story that you wouldn’t experience if you just read the book?

    I loved his accents and voices! As each character spoke you heard not just their accents but the character. He was really playing about a dozen roles and he made them all come alive!


    Was this a book you wanted to listen to all in one sitting?

    Yes! I think I did :)


    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Joey BREWER, ME, United States 06-14-13
    Joey BREWER, ME, United States 06-14-13 Member Since 2011
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    "Quite possibly BETTER than the first book!"

    Leviathan left me with baited breath- wondering what the Barking Spiders was going to happen! Behemoth is a great follow up - and I'm about to start the third book now! In short - if you like well written historical fiction - this is a great series.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
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