Real live person alert… or at least he was both real and alive at one time. Of course, by the time Leviathan opens, he's been assassinated—just like in real-world history, the assassination of the archduke touches the flame to the powder keg that is 1914 Europe.
In our story, of course, he's also Alek's father, which is why he's important to us. We get the sense that this archduke's motto is be prepared, because he's certainly put a long line of safeguards in place for his son, and those safeguards drive a lot of Alek's plotline. As Volger tells us: "'Your father made preparations before he left for Sarajevo,' Count Volger said. 'In case the worst happened'" (5.22). And, this being fiction, the worst most definitely does.
Corporal Bauer is one of the men who has given up everything to help Alek escape his enemies: "Traitor or not, the man probably had never been alone with a prince before. He didn't look much older than twenty" (5.8). He's the youngest of the men helping Alek escape, only a few years older than Alek himself—and like everyone else, he takes his orders from Count Volger, not from a mere prince.
The head boffin, or scientist, on board the Leviathan, it's usually Dr. Busk's job to explain to us what's going on with the airbeast and its ecosystem, and what it all means for various plotlines. Except for the bowler hat he wears, like all boffins, he's almost never described.
Emperor Franz Joseph is the second real live historical person on our list who never appears in the book but has a big impact on the characters. Historic note: Thanks to the awkwardness of translation, sometimes you'll see this guy referred to as Franz Josef or Francis Joseph—no one ever seems to call him Broseph though, so you probably shouldn't either.
Alek's great-uncle and the emperor of Austria-Hungary, in Leviathan he's the villain (albeit one at a comfortable distance) behind the assassination of Alek's parents, in addition to being extremely opposed to someone as common as His Serene Highness, Prince Aleksander of Hohenberg, ever ascending to the throne.
While there's no evidence that he had anything to do with the assassination in real life, real-life Franz Joseph was equally nasty about the marriage of Franz Ferdinand and Sophie and didn't shed too many tears at their deaths. As Alek tells us, "'He hated my mother more than any of them'" (5.39). Ugh.
Jaspert is Deryn's elder brother. Already a coxswain in the British Air Service, Jaspert is the one who helps Deryn perfect her disguise and gets her past the first few hurdles of enlisting. While Jaspert and Deryn give each other a hard time, as siblings commonly do, our hat is off to Jaspert for believing in his sister's abilities and helping her work around the prejudices of the world they live in. Deryn loves to tell him, "'You are full of clart, Jaspert Sharp!'" (3.13), but behind his teasing is genuine love and concern.
Witness to one of the biggest uh-oh moments in the book, the shopkeeper in Lienz is one of the first people who becomes suspicious of Alek's true identity when Alek acts like a total prince and a total prat in his shop: "His accent, his bearing… The man had seen who Alek was" (13.36). We have to assume that the Lienz shopkeeper doesn't keep quiet about it either, since in no time flat Alek is being pursued again. Thanks for nothing.
As Alek, Klopp, and Volger return to the walker from Lienz, they are pursued by a band of soldiers who assume they are common thieves. One young cavalryman breaks off from the pack to pursue Alek, and we get the sense that this soldier is a pretty decent guy, since he tries to get Alek to surrender peacefully… before Alek kills him. Or blames himself for killing him, rather. Alek indirectly causes the soldier's death by causing his horse to throw him, but of course, guilt and Alek are thick as, uh, thieves.
The soldier's main job in the novel is to inspire some serious reflection on the nature of the individual within a war. Check it out:
The man had been a soldier serving the empire. He couldn't have understood the politics swirling around him any more than those commoners back in Lienz.
But he'd lost his life just the same. (14.117-118)
These are heavy ideas that we still see debated today anytime war makes the news, which it does quite often, in one way or another.
Lieutenant Cook is a friendly colleague of Jaspert's who writes a letter of recommendation for Deryn—who he thinks is Dylan—as a favor to her brother. He also approves the letter when Deryn reports for duty. He loves to make jokes and puns, but is a pretty friendly guy all around. He's also the first boffin Deryn meets, so we find out how she feels about boffins through him: "Here was a man who'd reached into the very chains of life and worked them to suit his purposes" (3.47). It's an interesting introduction, to say the very least.
The most famous of the real historic figures who affect the course of this book, Lord Churchill, First Lord of the Admiralty in 1914, will go on to become the famous British Prime Minister, Winston Churchill, later in life. For now though, he's just going "beyond his station" (41.12) by giving the Leviathan orders and getting on Dr. Barlow's nerves. This is a different view of Churchill than we usually get in our World War II-era studies, and it serves to remind us that heroes aren't always heroic.
Another of the men who has given up everything to protect and serve Alek, Master Engineer Hoffman is in charge of keeping the walker running, but other than that, he's fairly interchangeable with Corporal Bauer at this point.
Another midshipman on the Leviathan, Mr. Fitzroy is annoying and overconfident. We're told: "The boy always assumed superior airs, just because his father was an ocean navy captain" (15.12). He gets his comeuppance, though, when he flubs some of his landing duties in London and Deryn is chosen to stay on board instead of him. Who's your daddy now, Mr. Fitzroy?
The Leviathan's master engineer, Mr. Hirst is the one who works most closely with Alek and the other Clankers on attaching the walker's engines to the airship.
Mr. Roland is the Leviathan's master rigger, and the officer Deryn turns Alek over to after she captures him.
One of the midshipmen on the Leviathan before the London landing, Mr. Tyndall doesn't have much of a character at all. Perhaps he's just there to prove the point that "there was nothing more useless than a new midshipman" (15.35), because he's not chosen to stay on board.
Alek's mother, the real-life Princess Sophie of Hohenberg, is the reason his parents' marriage doesn't "count" and he can't inherit his father's property or titles. Check it out:
Even his mother—she was the cause of it all. She'd cost him an empire, and somewhere deep down that fact had always stood between them. (21.61)
In real life, the treatment she received from Emperor Franz Joseph and other royals was very similar to the way it's described in Leviathan. Needless to say, it wasn't super awesome to be Princess Sophie.