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Editorial 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

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Barking spiders! Prepare to be transported!

Not a sqick of a book, but a transformation into a whole other world! The story continues with our remarkable characters leading us YET AGAIN to another adventure! I can't give too many details but I will say...prepare to be thoroughly, enjoyable, engrossed!

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Great Trilogy!

Would you recommend this audiobook to a friend? If so, why?

My family and I love this series so far! We started the 1st in the trilogy on vacation drive, and when each book ended we couldn't wait to get on to the next one. Great for adults and kids! My twin girls are 10 years old and love it, though, it did take them a bit to get into the first book.

Any additional comments?

Can't wait to see how the final book in the trilogy ends!

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History and fiction combine delightfully!

I already read it once, got my hubby to listen to it and. he loved it.

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Engaging

Our sons have enjoyed this trilogy very much. Mom and dad were drawn in when we decided to listen to the series with our youngest son. We like the blend of actual history with the fantasy fiction - um, it IS fiction- right?

Congrats and thanks to Scott Westerfeld We have enjoyed this together as a family- amazing !
so far, no offensive language, no inappropriate relationships - just swashbuckling excitement and fun.
Good story and reader ! First there was Leviathan then Behemoth- now,
Onward to GOLIATH (Mr.Sharp...hehe)

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Don't miss the Afterword!

I really enjoyed this book, the second in a 3-book series. It's an alternate history based on actual events that happened in WWI, but in an interesting twist on the Steampunk genre.
I enjoy historical fiction, and the Afterword tied the events in the book with actual events - giving the book weight despite the JA category, and making WWI much more interesting and personal.
The "Darwinist" ideas in the book are fascinating and, I think, not so far from reality in some aspects.
I highly recommend this series.

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great alternate history

this is a worthy sequel to Leviathan. I especially appreciate the narrator making each voice distinct, so I know who is talking when. I like the way the characters are growing, while remaining true to the core of who they are. it's quite a fun listen.

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Empire Strikes Back for the Leviathan Trilogy

Behemoth manages to flesh out the world of Leviathan and up the stakes from the previous outing while growing the characters in interesting ways. The only major defect is Cumming's decision to rotate characters accents when switching between them, causing everyone to sound similar after a while

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  • Melissa
  • Inland Empire, CA
  • 12-16-15

So much action and adventure!

This whole series is amazing, and I can't say ENOUGH about Cumming's narration and Westerfeld's wit and light touch in regards to descriptors. Most often when author's create a world they feel obligated to the reader to explain *everything* and it can really bog down a story. Westerfeld does not suffer from this, and this series is a brilliant mix of action, adventure, stay true characters, and a gas bag of imagination. Wonderful listen that wouldn't have been nearly as good without Cumming's gaggle of voices in my ears. He's a master of accents and I couldn't imagine this book without him!

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Excellent steam punk!

I was hooked with Leviathan and happy to write another positive review for book #2 in the series.

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Decent bridge

A couple interesting twists and some fun additions, but slogged at moments. Certainly missed the atmosphere of the first novel.