Wednesday, September 7, 2011

Pulp of the Week - Behemoth


Written by Scott Westerfeld
Illustrated by Keith Thompson

There is something about finishing the middle book in a trilogy that is so satisfying. I've finished two in the last two weeks - Catching Fire (which you will read about soon) and Behemoth.

Behemoth is part two of Scott Westerfeld's steampunk trilogy following the adventures of Prince Aleksander and Deryn Sharp. In Leviathan, Deryn managed to not get caught in her deception by her own officers, and ends up playing a key role in saving the massive Darwinist bioengineered airship, the aforementioned, Leviathan. Alek, on the other hand has allowed himself to be captured, but only because it is serving his purposes.

Behemoth follows the Leviathan's crew as they head to Istanbul to deliver the reigning Ottoman monarch a gift in exchange for a vital strategic partnership. As Deryn and Alek take to the narrow streets of the crossroads city they find German soldiers in numbers they hadn't imagined, strange bazaars, mechanical elephants, prophets, and most oddly, some Clanker allies.

I attended Westerfeld's San Diego Comic-Con panel and he was as charming in person as his books are. There were no spoilers about volume 3, Goliath, but he did announce the Uglies movie! He also talked about making the choice to have the books illustrated and how that changed his writing process and the text of the book itself. It seems that many of Keith Thompson's drawings either informed the text or in some cases gave Westerfeld ideas of things to add it because of the art. The art also allowed some text to be eliminated because it would be repetitious considering that things were already represented in the art. I love the art and think that the books are far better for it.

As this is the second book, it ends with the promise of much more to follow - but in this case, part three is not out yet - but  it will be soon.

I give this alternate-history/sf/ steampunk trilogy the strongest possible recommendation. They are captivating stories with a solid pulp flavor. I am eagerly awaiting the final volume.

I give Behemoth an 8.5 out of 10.


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