Alek and Deryn are aboard the Leviathan when the ship is ordered to pick up a strange passenger in middle-of-nowhere Russia. This mysterious and eccentric passenger is none other than Nikola Tesla, brilliant inventor and Clanker-turned-Darwinist. Tesla claims he has invented a powerful weapon than can end the war. Dr. Barlow, the Leviathan’s chief boffin and head of the London Zoological Society, believe Tesla is completely mad, and the weapon will not work. Nevertheless, Alek sees Tesla as the fulfillment of his destiny: a way to end the war. While struggling to determine whether or not he can trust Tesla, Alek’s life is further complicated by finally learning the truth about Dylan-he’s actually a she named Deryn. Alek feels betrayed, and Deryn worries their friendship will never recover. Can the two become allies again, and can Tesla really help Alek stop the war?
First let me say this novel really made up for the second book in the trilogy, Behemoth, which I didn’t particularly like. I was so happy that the final secret between Alek and Deryn was out of the way. I loved the fact that it was the fabricated perspicacious loris Bovril that helped Alek figure it out. Bovril really became his own character in this novel, which was great. The relationship between Alek and Deryn which we have been watching develop since Alek first stumbled upon Deryn/Dylan freezing in the Alps, changed again as well. Alek finally realized Deryn was not only lying about her gender, but also her true feelings for him, which explained many things. Once again, Alek and Deryn got into and out of trouble, both together and separately. Their adventures were exciting and believable,a and didn’t take away from their relationship, which was the really interesting part of the series.
I liked the addition of Tesla and his weapon called Goliath. Despite Tesla’s outrageous claims about his weapon using the entire Earth as a power source, it was so well written I was still able to almost buy in completely to its powers. That was something I liked about these novels. The “Clanker” technology was always well done and believable. I’m not sure I ever fully bought into the Darwinist tech, especially the whole living-in-a-flying-airbeast thing, but it didn’t distract me from the parts of the book I did like, which was good. Overall, this was a great series and I’m glad I read it.