Goliath by Scott Westerfeld. il by Keith Thompson
Simon Pulse/Simon & Schuster: NY, 2011.

The Leviathan is en route to Japan when they pick up a passenger in Siberia. Prince Alek is excited to learn that it is Nikola Tesla, the renowned inventor. He is working on a weapon, the Goliath, which he intends will end the war. He claims that he can pinpoint and devastate large cities from across the seas, and the threat will be enough to cease the fighting. He says that the location in Siberia is a test run that he was investigating. Tesla and Alek share a common interest in avoiding war, and their association will bring Tesla more publicity and possibly connections with either Austria or Germany.

In this book, Alek learns Deryn's (young friend and ally) identity and that she has a crush on him. He is drawn to her as well, but as the heir to the Austrian throne, he believes his destiny lies elsewhere. He is torn by the prospect of losing his best friend, though. Unfortunately, Alek is not the only one who learns the truth.

Within the whole trilogy, the Leviathan travels almost all the way around the world. It launched from England initially, and in this third book, flies from Siberia to California to Mexico and up to New York City where Tesla is determined to demonstrate his weapon.

I enjoyed this book as much as the rest of the series. The characters are engaging. The references to the Victorian era keep the story humming along. All the alternate details of the Clankers and Darwinists are fascinating. There is some intrigue aboard, though only some innuendo. I wasn't ready for the series to end, and I wish that some of the scenarios were expanded more. Both Dr. Barlow (scientist/diplomat) and Count Volger (Prince Alek's mentor and protector) could have played larger parts. But Alek and Deryn worked well together and there was plenty of story between the two.

There was one thing that bothered me about the story. Tesla was portrayed as a nut. Westerfeld definitely took artistic license with him. Considering how little people are taught about him and how little they learn on their own, I found this irritating. He was a brilliant man who was capable of things others did not understand. Certainly, he did encourage a mystical reputation and was flamboyant. He lost his popularity and was working on things others didn't understand, but that does not make him a nut. It is quite common for inventors to lack money. Likely, he was driven by his feelings regarding the current war, but so were Einstein and Oppenheimer. I hope that the story leads to biographical exploration. A book my son recommends is AC/DC: The Savage Tale of the First Standards War by Tom McNichol.

related-imaginary creatures, war, mechanical creations, genetic engineering, WWI, Nikola Tesla, William Randolph Hearst, Pancho Villa
RL=6th and up

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