Leviathan: An illustrated novel

Caricature map of WWI Europe from Scott Westerfeld's LEVIATHAN

Last year I posted this fantastical map of WWI Europe from Leviathan by Scott Westerfeld. This week I read the book, which I found to be an excellent escape. It was supposed to be nightstand reading, but I couldn’t put it down.

Rather than a graphic novel in the Dark Knight and Watchmen style, this is an illustrated novel. The hardcover is thick, but is a quick read with black and white illustrations every 5 or 10 pages. I think the audiobook would be really entertaining, but the illustrations make the printed version worthwhile. If you have an imaginative 15 year old in the house, this book is highly recommended. I am sure many in the CA community — steeped in history, science and technology — would also get a kick out of this book.

The only criticisms I have — aside from the negative characterisation of Churchill — are technical: character development is rather unsubtle, and mixed metaphors run rampant as a school of fish. That said, this book is not supposed to be Chaucer. It is meant for young readers and is thus fast-paced with lots of action. It is a fantastical adventure that is also character building. Westerfeld’s strength is in descriptive detail. He has filled his alternate reality with historical hooks and clever technological innovations. As stated in the Epilogue: “That’s the nature of steampunk, blending future and past.”

The world of Leviathan is highly imaginative and engaging. I can’t wait for the second installment.

Below is a trailer featuring many of the illustrations in the book. See more at Scott Westerfeld’s blog.

About Younghusband

Sir Francis Edward Younghusband (1863-1942) was a British explorer, army officer, military-political officer, and foreign correspondent born in India who led expeditions into Manchuria, Kashgar, and Tibet. He three times tried and failed to scale Mt. Everest and journeyed from China to India, crossing the Gobi desert and the Mustagh Pass (alt. c.19,000 ft/5,791 m) of the Karakoram mountain range in modern day Pakistan. Convinced of Russian designs on British interests in India, Younghusband proactively engaged in the nineteenth century spying and conflict over Central Asia between the British and the Russians known as the Great Game. "Younghusband" is a Canadian who has spent a number of years bouncing back and forth between his home country and Japan. Fluent in Japanese and English with experience in numerous other languages from Spanish to Georgian, Younghusband has travelled throughout Asia. He graduated with an MA from the War Studies Department at the Royal Military College of Canada, where he focussed on the Japanese oil industry and energy security issues. He has recently returned to Canada from Japan, and is working in the technology sector.
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2 Responses to Leviathan: An illustrated novel

  1. lirelou says:

    I am impressed with the concept and the imagination!

  2. tdaxp says:

    Added to my Amazon cart!