Tuesday, May 31, 2011

The Weeks of Big Fat Flying Ships

My last two reads have one thing in common: they feature large flying ships.

By now the regular know I love hot air balloons. It is a love that extends to all things flying ships. Anything that flies and isn't an airplane or spaceship is bound to catch my attention.

No surprise, then, if I say that promises of these things was enough to make me read Leviathan, by Scott Westerfield and Winds of Khalakovo.


I'm not sure why I took so long to read this. Leviathan is, by large, the most recommended steampunk book around the internet. Whenever the "steampunk recommendations" topic comes up, it's at the top of the list. 

Flash news: It's there because it deserves to be.

I love this book. It picks up very fast, the two main characters are awesome, and the universe -- the universe! Of course the idea of Darwinists is going to appeal to the biochemist in me. I craved for descriptions of their work, and of the Leviathan's workings.

Official Leviathan art by Keith Thompson

A book that has a freaking huge whale flying through the sky because it is supported by a complex ecosystem of genetically-modified lifeforms is.. is... There is no word for how much this idea makes me happy. It just does. There's no resisting the Huxleys, either.

Besides the genius premise, Leviathan also has a tight plot, hilarious dialogues, characters to root for and it makes for an all-around awesome read.

The Winds of Khalakovo

Click the cover! Go visit Beaulieu's site.

I found Winds from what I believe is Margo's very first Cover Lust feature and immediately became jealous. I still am. With her recommendation about this writer and my immediate love for the four-masted airship, I could not resist buying this the moment I had my Kindle.

After reading Leviathan my craving for airborne adventure was great. I opened this book, ready to jump into an epic tale. I wasn't disappointed.
If you ever wondered where completely original fantasy epics had gone*, well, here's your answer. Winds is a refreshing story of great scale with an unique setting. It plays with a few familiar concepts (elementals, for example) but brings them about in a fresh and unexpected way, mixing russian influences in.

The plot is thick, fast-moving and full of unexpected turns. This book has high magic, political intrigues, racial tensions, arranged marriages, a love triangle (the best I've read about, ever) and much more. Including flying ships. I mentionned that was important, right?

So, please. Let yourselves be transported by the Winds of Khalakovo. You're in for a great ride (aand an expectant wait for the next tome!)


  1. Leviathan was a great read. Very creative. Wish I'd though of it.

    I'll have to check out the other one. There is something fun and magical about flying air ships, though I don't know if I could go in a hot air balloon without maintaining a death grip on some rope or cable. Just a little scared of heights.

  2. I loved Leviathan! I can't wait until September when Goliath comes out.

    I will have to check out Winds of Khalakovo. It sounds really good.

  3. Gah, Claudie! These both sound so good! I had Leviathan from the library but was intimidated by something... I don't know what, but I returned it. Might have to pick it up again and give it a shot. Thanks for the recommendations!

  4. I don't want to splash cold water all over this but I don't think it's a "fresh, new idea." I can't tell you when or where but I swear I read a book similar to this many, many years ago when I was a kid. When I get a chance, I'll try to find a link/name.

  5. LG: Just a little, eh? And I had the same reaction to Leviathan. I was all "man, I wish I'd thought of that!"

    cookie: Yesss, September can't come fast enough.

    TL: Returned? O.o You absolutely should get it back!

    LV: Oh, I'm not saying Winds is completely new. That's impossible. I do think Beaulieu has something exceptional here, and that even another novel that combines a lot of the same elements wouldn't do it this way. I left out a lot about the actual plot in this post.

    (But if you find that title, please send it this way. Can't get enough of flying ships!)

  6. I'm so glad you liked Leviathan :-) Behemeoth is my favorite of the two, but I loved Leviathan a lot. Leviathan also has my favorite book trailer of all time.

    However - Leviathan is not really steampunk. Steampunk refers very specifically to the Victorian time period, because of the time period and not the aesthetics. Leviathan is often mis-categorized because it has elements that are inspired by steampunk, but it is more closely aligned with dieselpunk, which does not have a specific time period but does have specific themes around revolution and war, which are very important to Leviathan's narrative.

    *wince* I'm sorry. I get to sounding like such a knowitall stickinthemud when I start talking about these subgenres. I really don't mean to, I swear!

    Scott Westerfeld has some sneak peak prints up on his blog for Goliath. Even though I hate the new cover style for the series, I love the models they got for the two main characters for the third book. They are exactly as I picture them. I can't wait to see how the series ends!

    And an answer to my commenting problems - blogger is giving a lot of people problems this last week. I was trying to comment using internet explorer at work. If I use firefox I don't have any problems.

  7. On commenting: Ooooh, you're right, I'm Firefox at home, Explorer at work too, and I only have problems at work.

    On Leviathan: It's okay, correct me on the subgenre. :) I actually like to be reminded of the differences. Perhaps someday I'll find my novel's exact niche as your ramble on. ;)

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