Goliath by Scott Westerfeld

“Goliath”, the third and final volume of the Leviathan trilogy written by Scott Westerfeld, is the best way to end this trilogy. This novel involves a British airship made of a whale, called Leviathan, flying around the world as part of their journey during the alternative World War I. The story follows through the perspective of Deryn, a girl pretending to be a male soldier working in the British Air Service, and Alek, an Austrian prince who lives with the threat of the Germans trying to “dispose” of him. I think this could be one of the best books out of the three mainly because of the different things it left the reader thinking about. For “Goliath”, there was so much intriguing parts of a story balanced together. This book continues with the amazing biological and mechanical technologies from the first two books, manages to weave in a plausible history of the world during the early 1900s, and finally concludes the relationship between the characters Alek and Deryn.
Usually, the main thing about the Leviathan trilogy that would intrigue people and lure them to read the first book is creativeness of the technologies. The literary world has enough science fiction filled with metal spaceships; how about some more technologies like land frigates and entire ecosystems inside an airship? In “Goliath”, Scott Westerfeld continues with his descriptions of the Darwinist (biological) and Clanker (machinery) technologies. It’s awesome how two sides of an alternative World War I can use their own types of creations to attack each other, along with the counter weapons developed. For example, a hydrogen whale airship (Darwinist) can be destroyed with a zeppelin firing a rocket (Clanker), but the zeppelin can be shredded with strafing hawks wearing metal talons (Darwinist). In addition, as the airship Leviathan soars around the world, stopping in places like the Ottoman Empire, Japan, and the United States, the Darwinist/Clanker technologies illustrate the influence of World War I and allow the reader to predict how a nation will be in the war.
Goliath is a good novel also because it shows the other side of steampunk: the old-fashioned world, along with adding to the history so it can relate to the whole idea of Darwinist and Clanker powers. In this book, the idea of chivalry is still alive, shown by how men kiss women on their hands. Women are still seen as a lesser gender, and so, like in real history, the time of the alternative Great War is a time when women cannot vote. The idea of monarchy is still alive, as the book mentions the czar of Russia, Alek being an Austrian prince, and the Japanese empire. And also like the real history of our world, many of the people in “Goliath” dress in fancy clothes, speak as if there are of a higher ranking class, and participate in formal dinners. However, going along with this is the history that Westerfeld creates. In the first book, Britain was described as being totally polluted from the Industrial Revolution, and after Charles Darwin discovered DNA almost 60 years ahead of our time, many nations follow Britain’s idea of using genetically modified animals to provide for society. Other nations focused on developing their existing technology, ending up with modernized mechanical machines. This was how the Darwinist and Clanker rivalry was formed. Westerfeld also manages to explain the US’s split of Darwinist and Clanker technologies with the after effects of the Civil War, where the North uses Clanker machines and the South adopts Darwinist techniques. Scott Westerfeld masters the art of writing steampunk by combining futuristic technologies while keeping the antiquated reality of the early 20th century.
“Goliath” concludes the future of the friendship and relationship between Alek and Deryn in a satisfying way. Alek doesn’t know that Deryn is a girl, which complicates things between them as Deryn attempts to tell him her secret but fails every time. Added to the difficult is when Deryn finds herself falling in love with Alek, when he thinks she’s an airman. With all this happening in the first two books of the Leviathan trilogy, Goliath still manages to wrap this all up in an exciting way, and even relating it to World War I itself. The reader would think it’s very clever how Scott Westerfeld did this. But “Goliath” isn’t only about this. The book also shows various ways how Deryn and Alek are good friends from the beginning they met each other, by linking it to the great airship Leviathan itself. “Goliath” balances the mission of the Leviathan and the perspectives and thoughts of Deryn and Alek.
In order to fully understand the book “Goliath”, you should first read the other 2 books, “Leviathan” and “Behemoth”. It will be worth it as you read and ponder the imaginative and plausible stories of this trilogy. The futuristic technologies, old-fashioned society, and point of views of both Deryn and Alek help the Leviathan trilogy be one of the best trilogies I have ever read.