For those that have read the first book, BEHEMOTH brings the whale-airship Leviathan to a wonderful location to serve as a backdrop for the plot:
Scott Westerfeld even went to Istanbul to get a feel for the city in preparation of this book. Having been to Istanbul myself, I felt he captured the essence of the city without making one feel like they're reading an over-detailed travelogue.
In a nutshell, the book deals again with Deryn/Dylan, Prince Alek and his retinue, Dr. Barlow and a few new faces, to include one that forms the third point of an interesting "Bermuda Triangle" of sorts.
Not much new is revealed about Deryn/Dylan and Alek, the two main characters, but the two draw closer in their friendship as they work together against the Clanker threats that surround them . . . and one particularly annoying journalist--American, of course.
The non-human elements are just as fascinating this time around as they were in LEVIATHAN, although this time they focus more on the Clankers as they are, after all, in enemy territory. But just to be clear, there are SOME new Darwinist creations, just not many of them.
The plot moves at a nice pace--although I'm a slow reader I finished this book in about two days and the last 200 pages I read in one sitting.
Of course, an Alternative History book like this one wouldn't be what it is without a little homage to the real history, which is briefly but sufficiently detailed in the AFTERWORD. It's truly amazing how authors can find little historical details and transform them into new magnificent stories!
Finally there is the wonderful artwork of Keith Thompson. Once again his artwork never fails to capture what is occurring on the page next to it. Reading these books is like flipping through the HOLY BIBLE or THE DIVINE COMEDY and finding the brilliant black-and-white artwork of GUSTAVE DORE gracing the pages.
As for complaints, I only have a few nitpicky ones . . .
--The hardback cover art needs to match the hardback cover for the first book.
--The binding could be of better quality--it's just glue.
--The impact of some of the artwork is diminished by the fact that the crease between the pages gets in the way.
Despite that, this is still an easy 5-star title.
It was nice to be back on board.