Scott Westerfeld’s Leviathan locked in my engagement to a degree that I can only describe as Downton Abbey-esque. When I read the first book, there was no question of whether or not I would pursue the series to its conclusion. It was simply a matter of how quickly I could get a copy of the next book in my hands. That has brought us to the last book in the series, Goliath.
It’s a dangerous game to buy an entire series when you’ve barely made it through the first book. I’ve taken that gamble twice, and both times it paid off nicely: for George R.R. Martin’s A Song of Ice & Fire, and for Philip Reeve’s Hungry City Chronicles. The sudden and unpredictable craving for literary satisfaction might never have survived the era of Arthur Conan Doyle, when Londoners madly rioted for the latest Sherlock Holmes stories. I would have ended up in the stocks for trampling a group of orphans.
People know me as a mild-mannered guy, but under the surface I’m bubbling with questions and apprehensions, almost all of which have to do with fiction. I still get angry about characters who were mistreated in books that I read in high school. I still wonder if Roland Deschain’s next journey along Ka’s wheel will resemble the previous one. I still want to know the secret of Snowtown. I still think back to the last chapter of A Darkling Plain, knowing that there has almost never been a better ending.
The only reason I enjoyed working in a bookstore was for the few occasions in which I got to exercise this side of myself. There is a genuine sense of charity when sending someone into the world with quality reading in their future. I hated that job because public opinion was seldom swayed by good advice. Too many customers were either members of Oprah’s book club, or they liked the actor on the poster of the movie adaptation. I Am Legend never sold as many copies as when Will Smith showed up on the cover.
Back to Leviathan. This is a series that will stick with me. The evolving relationship between the main characters was a fantastic journey of its own right. I cared more about their friendship than the World War exploding around them.
My biggest point of contention was a plot twist that I suspect the author abandoned midway, but no harm done.
I felt like the conflict of Clankers vs. Darwinists was never entirely balanced. Technologically-oriented cultures were portrayed as primitive or harmful, whereas the Darwinists consistently maintained the moral and tactical upper hand. Perhaps Westerfeld wanted to veer history away from advancing industry and toward a more biologically-conscious alternative. I came to this series with an assumption that the author would stay thematically objective, but perhaps that’s simply how I would have approached it.
In a digital world, this was one series I needed to own in hardcover. That should be enough to convince anyone that the Leviathan trilogy is more than worthy of attention and praise.
What book series are you favorites?