Finally! The conclusion to the awesome alternate history-World War I-steampunk trilogy is here! All summer long I was looking forward to this and it was indeed a very satisfying end to the trilogy. I’m going to stick with my Star Wars comparison that I told a friend the other day. Much like in the original Star Wars trilogy the middle episode is the strongest (Empire Strikes Back and in this case, Behemoth), if not the happiest.
This final book introduces Nikolai Tesla as a key player in warfare. He’s a Clanker, not a Darwinist, which means his methods involve machinery. His claims to have created a weapon that will be so fearsome it will promptly end the war through terrifying threat bring up the juxtaposition of war/peace. Although this is a trilogy about a war in this volume issues like the greater good, threats, at what cost must the war end seem to be discussed and analyzed an awful lot.
As with the other volumes I loved the descriptions of the air beasts, fabricated beasties, and marvelous machines. Anytime Deryn went topside I knew there would an interesting action sequence. I loved the incorporation of real people (William Randolph Hearst, Pancho Villa) and the role propaganda and film making played. And I was once again grateful for and interested by the breakdown at the end of what exactly was real and what was made up.
As for the long awaited moments of Alek discovering that Derek is really Deryn, a girl, it was very satisfyingly handled. I definitely rooted for them. The story in this volume was not as exciting or strong to me as it was in Behemoth, but it was a good conclusion to the trilogy. And while it was a definitive end I would love it if Mr. Westerfeld wrote some more books in this amazing world he has imagined and built.