Leviathan follows the story of two teenagers in the early days of World War I. But this isn't your grandfather's (okay, maybe your great-great-grandfather's) World War I. Deryn Sharp and Prince Aleksander of Hohenberg live in an alternate version of reality in which the whole world is split into Darwinists and Clankers. Darwinists fabricate fantastic beasties using the theories of Charles Darwin, who in this world discovered DNA. Clankers, on the other hand, depend on their skill with machines.
When Alek's parents, Archduke Franz Ferdinand and his wife, Princess Sophie, are assassinated, Europe is plunged into war: Darwinists versus Clankers. Alek begins his own personal battle for survival as his parents' assassins come after him, and along with a few companions, Alek makes it from Austria-Hungary to Switzerland, where his protectors intend for him to wait out the war in hiding.
Meanwhile, Deryn Sharp is a girl who loves to fly, but girls can't be airmen. So Deryn disguises herself as a boy and earns a place as a midshipman on the British airship Leviathan, a massive ecosystem in the sky. As Britain declares war on Germany, the Leviathan is shot down, landing in Switzerland.
As German forces come after the hidden prince and the wounded airship, Deryn and Alek join forces to save themselves, their companions, and their secrets.
- Our story opens with a view of Darwinist forces amassed against those of the great Austro-Hungarian Empire.
- Then we find out that those forces are Prince Aleksander's desk accessories set up for a mock battle—and here we thought decorating our lockers was cool.
- Prince Aleksander is having to make do with pens and ink bottles because his parents left him at home while they went to watch military maneuvers. Weak.
- But wait… Prince Aleksander hears noises in the hall and sneaks back to his bed to pretend to be asleep. Is it an assassin? A thief?
- Nope, it's just Otto Klopp, his master of mechaniks, and Count Volger, his fencing master.
- The two men tell Prince Aleksander to come with them for some nighttime training exercises in his walker, which is not something little babies and old people use, but a sweet war machine.
- They all sneak out of the palace—something we at Shmoop do all the time (j/k—no palaces for these nerds).
- As they're getting their sneak on, Alek (his name's Alek now) reflects on his position: because his mother isn't royal, his parents' marriage doesn't count. This means that Alek will never be able to inherit his father's lands and titles unless he defies his great-uncle, the emperor. First world problems, right?
- Oh, and Volger, as a noble, doesn't really respect Alek the way commoners like Klopp do.
- Alek and his two instructors go to the stables, which is apparently where one keeps one's giant war machines.
- Alek sees a Cyklop Stormwalker with two Spandau machine guns, which is bigger than any walker he's ever piloted.
- Klopp assures Alek that he will help pilot, and that Alek's father wants him ready to handle any walker in the House Guard—war is coming, after all.
- Volger gives Alek a hard time about being too scared, which goads Alek into the walker.
- Two other men are already in the walker, which carries a crew of five; Alek takes the controls as Klopp guides him through his paces.
- Oh, and they don't turn the lights on because they're pretending to be stealthy. Pretending. Right. This is starting to sound a bit suspicious.
- Now Alek finally catches on: This isn't a nighttime lesson; no one's pretending. This trip is for real.
- Alek's first instinct is that the men might be traitors who are kidnapping him. Alas, no. As Alek struggles with them, the men knock him out using chemicals on a rag. Old school but effective.
- The last thing Alek hears is Volger's voice telling him that his parents have been murdered in Sarajevo.
- It's time to switch gears, in a manner of speaking. This chapter opens in England, where Deryn Sharp has fallen asleep on her aeronautics manual. Falling asleep on textbooks: we can relate.
- Her elder brother, Jaspert, wakes her up, and they bicker about the airman middy's test she'll be taking that day.
- Deryn tries on the clothes she'll be wearing for the test—and if all goes well, for a long time afterward.
- They're boy's clothes because Deryn is planning to pass as Dylan and get into the British Air Service. Hey, a girl's gotta do what a girl's gotta do.
- Deryn and Jaspert take an omnibus drawn by a hippoesque (which we assume means something like a hippo) to the Wormwood Scrubs airship field.
- Deryn reflects on how unfair it is that she was born a girl and has to lie to fly, when she's so much better at it than so many boys. Ugh—for real.
- The new recruits line up on the ascension field, where officers try to intimidate them. Hey, some things never change, even in alternate universes.
- Jaspert gets her past Lieutenant Cook, who tells her to get in another line—he also notes that she's really skinny, but he doesn't seem to suspect anything.
- Now it's time for the officers to try to thin the ranks of new recruits. Only the best and bravest for the British Air Service.
- The first intimidation factor comes from lupine tigeresques—yes, gigantic wolf tigers. We're not sure we would make it, but Deryn does. A bunch of other recruits don't stop running until they're out of there, though, which seems like a perfectly appropriate response to us.
- The next intimidation factor comes from another beastie: this time, it's a giant jellyfish thing, otherwise known as a Huxley ascender, a jellyfish that works like a giant balloon.
- The thought of going up in that thing thins the ranks even further, but when the flight captain asks for volunteers, Deryn steps up.
- After buckling into the harness, Deryn rises over London in the Huxley.
- At first, she's having a great time, but then the Huxley starts getting nervous, and Deryn sees why: a storm is coming.
- She doesn't want to throw out her panic flag for fear of losing face, but she knows she needs to get out of the air before that storm arrives.
- Alek comes around in the belly of the walker, where one of the men is keeping an eye on him.
- The man introduces himself as Corporal Bauer, and when Alek demands to be let go, Bauer calls for Volger. We guess being a prince will only get you so far.
- While Klopp pilots the walker, Volger tells Alek that he and Alek's father made a plan in case anything happened to the archduke.
- Volger tells Alek how his parents were assassinated, a story that differs a bit from the real-life historic assassination of Archduke Franz Ferdinand and his wife, Sophie.
- Alek is still trying to believe that Volger and Klopp have kidnapped him and his parents are still alive—in other words, he's in denial.
- All of a sudden, Volger yells at Klopp to stop the engines.
- Then they feel that most ominous of ominous feelings (ask anyone in a Jurassic Park movie): the sound of something heavy moving over the ground toward them.
- Volger goes through the hatch to look out and calls to Alek to join him—a German land dreadnaught (read: superwalker) is coming after them.
- Volger says that these are Alek's enemies, but Alek clings to hope that it's a rescue mission.
- That hope is quickly dashed, however, when the dreadnaught starts coming after them—in the sense that it starts shooting at them.
- Alek realizes that Klopp and Volger have been telling the truth as Volger tells him this proves the Germans believe he has a claim to the throne of Austria-Hungary. So there's good news and bad news.
- Alek takes over the viewport as the dreadnaught continues its attack, while Klopp takes the controls.
- Then Alek has to try to get the archducal flag off the antenna, which really begs the question: Why did they leave it up there in the first place? Doesn't seem too bright.
- Alek finishes closing the viewport, just as the walker is struck by shrapnel.
- As the dreadnaught continues its pursuit, Klopp and Volger argue about whether or not a smaller walker would have been a better choice. Maybe save it for later, guys?
- In the process, Volger and Klopp reveal that they're headed for Switzerland. Probs for the watches and chocolate—oh right, or the neutrality. Take your pick.
- Bauer and Hoffman are firing at the dreadnaught, which Alek says won't do any good because it's so big. Klopp helpfully reminds him that the dreadnaught will have smaller escorts.
- The attack leaves Alek in no doubt that his mother and father are dead; he feels empty for a moment, until another attack from the dreadnaught's guns distracts him.
- Bauer and Hoffman fire the walker's cannon at the dreadnaught, and Volger asks Alek if he knows how to use a Spandau machine gun.
- He doesn't, but he's going to give it a shot anyway. Literally.
- Hold on to your hydrogen breathers, Shmoopsters, because we're back in Deryn Sharp's world now.
- The men on the ground finally notice the storm front and start to bring her down.
- It's too late, of course, and she's five hundred feet in the air when the rain starts.
- The ground men really struggle to get her down, and she has to do some serious aerobatics to keep the Huxley from plummeting her to her death.
- Finally, she has to cut the Huxley free of its ground tethers to keep it from crashing into the ground, which means she's now free-ballooning over London with no control over the Huxley at all and no clear idea of how to get down.
- All in all, it's kind of like anyone's first day at a new job.
- Deryn is adrift in the storm, and she knows the flickers of lightning in the distance are no good—because the Huxley breathes hydrogen, which holds it aloft, it can go up in flames like that.
- As Deryn drifts over London, she distracts herself by (conveniently for the backstory) thinking of what London was like before Darwin (yes, that Darwin) discovered how to create fabricated beasts.
- Deryn realizes that she has no idea how to get down in a Huxley, which is supposed to be attached to ground lines all the time.
- She recalls how much she loved ballooning with her Da before his death two years before.
- As they drift toward the English Channel, Deryn and the Huxley both notice a thrumming sound. Then Deryn catches her first glimpse of a massive airbeast: a whaleesque that looks somewhat like a zeppelin—and when Deryn sees Leviathan written along the side of the gondola suspended from the whaleesque, she realizes it's the famous airship.
- Deryn sees many other creatures swarming about the whale and recalls that huge hydrogen breathers like the Leviathan are designed to be entire ecosystems, much like those South American islands where Darwin did much of his work.
- The Leviathan lets down a rope, which Deryn eventually manages to catch.
- A message lizard (why don't we have these?) climbs to her along the rope to tell her they're there to rescue her.
- Deryn sends a reply back with the lizard—coolest walkie-talkies ever—and the Leviathan manages to bring her in.
- The officer who greets Deryn compliments her work with the Huxley and tells her the British Air Service will need all the good men it can get what with the trouble on the Continent over an Austrian duke and duchess.
- He tells her that she'll be staying aboard for a few days since they're on high alert.
- Nothing could make Deryn happier than a little bit longer in the air, so everything's turning up roses for now.
- Two weeks after he fled the palace in the night, Alek wakes up in a barn. So that's a bit of a comedown.
- Alek tries to sneak up on Volger, who is listening to Morse code over the wireless.
- Nobody sneaks up on Volger, though.
- Volger tells Alek that the army is preparing for war—or so he thinks, due to increased traffic on the wireless.
- Alek hopes this means everyone has forgotten about him. Volger says not a chance: Alek is super duper important, and no one would forget about wanting him dead. Comforting guy, that Volger.
- And then Volger stops spilling information and goes back to being Count Mysterious.
- Because they're both a bit annoyed at each other, Volger suggests a fencing lesson—nothing says relaxation quite like pointing a sharp object at someone who is getting on your nerves, after all.
- During the fencing lesson, Volger and Alek discuss international politics, outlining the way the great powers of Europe will ally with each other in the coming war.
- They conclude by figuring out that the Darwinist powers will fight the Clanker powers.
- Alek feels that the war is in some way his fault because no one wanted his parents' marriage or his birth, and now his parents' deaths are leading to war.
- Volger tells Alek he may still have a chance to influence the war, though of course he's very enigmatic about how.
- Still in the barn, Alek maneuvers the walker's viewport so that he can see through a gap in the wall.
- They get an all clear from Bauer once the last of some farming equipment and farmers make their way out of sight.
- Alek reflects that Bauer and Hoffman both gave up promising careers—and a lot of other elements of a happy life—to help him escape and keep him safe.
- If the group is caught, Alek will be quietly done away with, and the other four will be hanged for desertion. High stakes, yo.
- Once they get out of the barn, Klopp gives Alek a lesson in making a walker run.
- Alek nearly bites the dust though, which has got to be way more embarrassing in a giant machine than when you trip over your own feet in gym class.
- Klopp says everyone falls at first, so it's no big deal—the walker is really top-heavy.
- The top-heaviness is one of Volger's secrets. Just call him Count Secrets. He packed a dozen gold bars—nearly a quarter of a ton—which makes our vacation spending money seem a little lightweight.
- They continue moving toward Lienz, a nearby city where they hope to get supplies to keep the walker on its—er—feet.
- This will be the first time Alek has seen anyone other than his traveling companions in two weeks, and he realizes how weird he looks in farmer's clothes. No one will know he's a prince. Yet another first-world problem for Alek.
- Clinging to the ratlines on the Leviathan's flank, Deryn Sharp looks down a thousand feet to the sea below.
- Mr. Rigby, the bosun, yells at her to keep going. There's no navel gazing in combat drills—only naval gazing.
- Turns out Deryn has already passed the middy's test to become a midshipman while on board the Leviathan—also, no one has yet noticed that she's a girl.
- Now she's training with the other middies to learn all about living, fighting, and dying on an airbeast, and about how Darwin used evolution to learn to fabricate new animals.
- No matter what kind of strange stuff Deryn's learning, the weirdest thing of all is learning to be a boy.
- Deryn finally reaches the top of the airbeast, and she and Mr. Newkirk, another midshipman, rest and observe the airship. Mr. Newkirk's mother is a Monkey Luddite, a person who is afraid of fabrications, and he's a little freaked by them himself.
- She and Newkirk give each other a hard time, and Deryn thinks that being a boy is pretty tough.
- As Deryn and Newkirk near the bow, they hear the sound of bats.
- The other middies catch up, in a hurry to feed the bats just before the fléchette.
- Newkirk gets spooked by a flock of strafing hawks, and Mr. Rigby blows a whistle to make the glowworms under the airbeast's skin light up.
- The middies throw the bats' food to them: dried figs with a metal fléchette in the middle. Wait a minute and you'll see why…
- And so will Deryn, since Mr. Rigby lets the middies stick around to watch the fléchette strike—an old schooner in the ocean is the target.
- The fléchette strike consists of the bats flying over the target, and uh, dropping the fléchettes, which are like little razors.
- The strike completely disables the old schooner, and then a kraken rises from the depths of the ocean to finish the job. Nobody even has to say, "Release the kraken"—it just knows what to do.
- Deryn reflects that the possibility of war must just be a crazy rumor, because Clankers surely could never stand up to Darwinists.
- Alek is walking through Lienz with Klopp and Volger, thinking about how gross common people are and how he wishes he were in his nice carriage. Again with the first-world problems.
- He also thinks it's kind of weird that no one's worried about the war, until Volger tells him that they probably can't read newspapers.
- Klopp leads them to a mechanik's shop, where they attempt to buy some supplies.
- The shopkeeper offers Alek a toy walker, which Alek, in a bit of a temper tantrum, thinks he's too old for.
- Alek makes the mistake of opening his mouth, and his posh accent gives away his farmer's disguise.
- Volger buys the shopkeeper's silence, while Klopp drags Alek outside. As they head out of town, the men surmise that the Guild of Mechaniks has been told to be on the watch for them.
- While Volger and Klopp search for another place to buy fuel, Alek tries to buy a paper to find out what's going on in the outside world. As he does, he realizes he has no idea how to handle money and can barely speak the everyday dialect of his subjects. Humbled much, Alek?
- Volger, Klopp, and Alek head back to the walker, which is parked in a streambed a ways out of town.
- They hear the ominous sound of something heavy moving over the ground again, and this time, it's hoofbeats.
- Volger tells Alek to run for the walker while he and Klopp hold off the enemy.
- Alek runs, trying to get to the walker in order to bring it back to make a stand against the bad guys.
- And then a lone horseman comes out of nowhere, ready to fire on Alek.
- The horseman calls out that he missed on purpose and tries to take Alek prisoner.
- Alek realizes these horsemen don't know who he and his companions are—they think they're going after common thieves.
- Alek counterattacks by grabbing the saber off the rider's horse, and in the struggle, the horse throws its rider, killing him instantly.
- Alek realizes he indirectly killed an Austrian soldier. Cue some guilt.
- With no time to lose, Alek mounts the horse and rides it to the walker, which Bauer and Hoffman have already started up.
- Alek is the only pilot available, so he takes the controls. Finally, he's running well… but then he does some careening around. He manages to right the walker, though, and the horsemen disperse at the sight of the machine.
- Klopp enters the control room, telling Alek that Volger is also aboard but has been shot in the shoulder; he compliments Alek on his walker-running skills.
- As Alek pilots the walker forward, he thinks about the dead horseman and pushes his bad feelings into a little box, which anyone could tell him probably isn't the best way to handle them.
- Deryn is at breakfast with the other middies when all of them rush to the window to see London come into view. Because she's already seen London from the air in her wild Huxley ride, she's pretty chill about it.
- Deryn and Midshipman Fitzroy, who's kind of a jerk, get into it, until Mr. Rigby comes in with Captain Hobbes and Dr. Busk, the ship's head scientist.
- The captain tells them they'll be setting the ship down in the middle of London to pick up an important person to take to Constantinople; Deryn wonders why they'd be doing something so silly as transporting a scientist to Constantinople when Britain will be at war any day.
- The scientist will be bringing some heavy equipment aboard, which equals some midshipmen being left behind.
- Deryn and Fitzroy glare at each other, and Deryn tells herself that she's one of the best on board, so as long as she doesn't screw up anything during the landing process she should be fine.
- As they prepare to land, Deryn free-balloons to the ground in another Huxley, carrying a message lizard.
- She worries that if she's left behind, she'll lose the place that's come to feel like home.
- Deryn lands, accepts compliments from the ground men on her landing, and delivers the message lizard to the constable directing the landing from the ground.
- She notes that she beat Fitzroy down. Take that, Fitzroy.
- It's Deryn's job to get the scientist aboard, so she heads for the zoo.
- Deryn runs through the front of the London Zoo, where all the animals are upset because of the Leviathan's presence.
- A woman stops her and asks if Deryn is an airman.
- Deryn realizes that the scientist is a woman. It's kind of funny that Deryn is so shocked, right?
- The woman introduces herself as Dr. Barlow.
- Deryn sees two younger scientists carrying a carefully packed crate between them: mysterious cargo.
- Dr. Barlow brings out a dogesque beast, whom she introduces as Tazza, her pet. He's a Tasmanian tiger, and is a natural animal, not fabricated.
- Deryn leads Dr. Barlow, the two younger scientists, and Tazza to the Leviathan, which Dr. Barlow says doesn't look happy—Deryn can see that the Leviathan is upset, but she assures Dr. Barlow it's just because it's so near the ground.
- Deryn begins to explain the Leviathan to Dr. Barlow. As it turns out though, Dr. Barlow fabricated this species of airship, so Deryn feels pretty dumb.
- Deryn notices that many of the ground men seem untrained, which is a big problem that could get a lot of people killed—so Dr. Barlow uses her message parrot (because of course) to send a message from Deryn to the captain about this.
- Deryn and Dr. Barlow observe the tactics the captain uses to get the untrained men to let go.
- When Dr. Barlow compliments her, Deryn asks the scientist to put in a good word with the captain due to the weight issue.
- This goes a bit south when Dr. Barlow says she and Tazza would love a cabin boy of their very own—Deryn's not excited at this prospect.
- She's also not excited by the prospect of another woman on board—another woman who might notice things men wouldn't.
- Alek and his companions are at the Swiss border in their walker, but a German land frigate is waiting for them. Uh-oh…
- They decide the only way to get past it is to try to sneak by at night—because everyone thinks piloting a walker at night is too dangerous.
- The land frigate sends out searchlights at random intervals, which they have to sneak by.
- They try disguising the walker's noise by walking in a loud streambed. Pretty smart thinking.
- They run right into some German soldiers on foot, but the walker manages to plow through them.
- Alek speeds up, taking the walker into a run—at night.
- Phosphorus flares come streaking overhead as the Germans begin pursuit.
- Six small single-man walkers chase after Alek, shooting phosphorus flares.
- Alek's crew doesn't understand what's going on until one of the phosphorus flares sticks to the walker—the flare sends constant smoke into the air, making them very easy to track. Uh oh.
- Because there's no easy way to put out phosphorus, the guys aren't sure what to do until Alek realizes he'll have to hack it off.
- Which he does, with a two-hundred-year-old family heirloom sword they just happen to have on board. Why is that sword there? We don't know.
- Then Alek throws the sword into the forest because it's smoking phosphorus. We just hate when that happens to our good swords.
- Because the Germans believe the smoking sword is the fallen walker, they keep firing at it while Alek and his crew escape.
- On board the Leviathan, Dr. Barlow surprises Deryn while she's shaving—er, pretending to shave—and asks to see Leviathan's bee colonies.
- Deryn and Newkirk are now the only two middies on board, due to Dr. Barlow and all the extra weight she brought, so Deryn now spends a ton of time showing Dr. Barlow around and generally seeing to her needs.
- Meanwhile, everyone thinks Britain will be in the war by the next day.
- While flying over the Swiss Alps, Deryn and Dr. Barlow go into the gut of the whale, where the bee colonies are.
- As they examine the bees, Dr. Barlow tells Deryn that her grandfather loved to study bees and picks up on one of Deryn's secrets—she's not sixteen yet, so she's too young to enlist in the Air Service.
- They hear the general alarm ringing, signaling the fact that Britain and Germany are now at war.
- Germany doesn't waste any time: the alarm starts ringing for an aerial attack, which means Deryn has to get to her battle station.
- She tries to get Dr. Barlow to return to her cabin, but Dr. Barlow refuses, saying she's going to the machine room to protect her cargo—whatever it is.
- As Deryn hurries to her battle station, she realizes they're being attacked by multiple German aircraft. Good times.
- Deryn climbs topside as the German aircraft attack with machine guns, ripping holes in the Leviathan and killing men and beasties.
- These are exciting times: strafing hawks narrowly save the airship from going up in a fiery ball from a phosphorus bomb.
- Deryn must leave wounded crewmen behind as she continues to struggle to her battle station.
- Topside, Deryn makes it to the bow, where Mr. Rigby and Newkirk are already feeding the fléchette bats.
- The three of them clip their safety lines together in order to have more control as they push forward to feed more bats.
- The Leviathan's nose pitches down, and Deryn realizes they're falling.
- Mr. Rigby, Newkirk, and Deryn huddle in the bat caves to keep from sliding off, but when Deryn tries to find more bats to put in the air, she realizes they're all gone.
- The Leviathan pitches up, and the three of them try to get away from the bow before the ship dives again.
- Deryn finds the spine riddled with bullet holes and covered with casualties.
- The last two remaining German aircraft reform to attack again, but a pack of bats takes out one of them; the other one is destroyed by an air gun before it can ram the ship.
- Deryn sees that Mr. Rigby has been shot. As the ship tilts forward, Deryn realizes Mr. Rigby and Newkirk will fall into the sky due to where they're standing—still attached to their safety lines, she leaps over to the opposite side to weigh them down.
- As Deryn lies against the side of the ship, she sees the Alps coming closer and understands that the Leviathan is crashing.
- Alek and crew arrive at an isolated old castle in the Swiss Alps, which Volger tells him he and Alek's father outfitted as a hiding place in case Alek ever needed it.
- Inside they find enough supplies to last years, and Volger says they will hide out until the end of the war—which could actually take years.
- As the others unpack and set up a living space, Alek reminds Volger that he said he would reveal his big secrets once they reached Switzerland.
- Alek and Volger climb into an abandoned tower—abandoned towers are great for revealing secrets—and Volger tells him that the pope has declared Alek his father's true heir.
- Because his parents are dead, Alek is now first in line to the throne of Austria-Hungary.
- The one condition—because there's always a condition—of the pope's declaration is that Alek keep his claim a secret until the Emperor, his granduncle, dies. Which means waiting out the war in an abandoned castle in the Alps.
- This does not make Alek very happy.
- Fortunately, he hears something that distracts him: the sound of engines. And he sees a huge mass flying through the air.
- At first, Alek thinks it's a German zeppelin, but Volger disagrees—and then they both realize it's a Darwinist airship.
- The airship glides overhead, clearly wounded and crashing; Alek watches the slow crash.
- Volger starts thinking of how to remain hidden, and Alek starts thinking of how to help the wounded airship—which is perhaps our first indication that staying hidden isn't going to be Alek's strong suit.
- Volger and Alek argue—as is their way—about whether or not they should help the wounded airbeast and its crew.
- After a cold dinner (no cook fires are allowed due to the smoke), Alek volunteers for first watch.
- Instead of watching though, Alek gets some supplies and sets out on foot for the wreck.
- When he arrives at the airship, he's shocked by the smell of so many living and dying organisms.
- Then he hears a moan and helps a wounded airman wake up and provides some first aid.
- Alek tells the boy he lives in a village nearby, and the boy introduces himself as Midshipman Dylan Sharp.
- And so the plot thickens, Shmoopsters.
- This is the first chapter in which Deryn and Alek are both present, but the narrator continues to view the world through Deryn's eyes for two chapters and then through Alek's eyes for two chapters. Note that Alek doesn't know Deryn is a girl, so in Alek's chapters, Deryn becomes Dylan. That's one way to tell who's narrating.
- Alek introduces himself simply as Alek, and Deryn thinks he's really weird.
- Deryn wants to find out what she can do to help with the wreck, but she isn't feeling well—being nearly buried under a flying whale will do that to you.
- So instead she asks Alek what his village can do to help them, and Alek starts nervously backtracking re: personal information.
- Deryn finds this extremely suspicious and blows an intruder alert on her whistle, Captain von Trapp style.
- Alek runs for it, and then he pulls a gun, which apparently he doesn't know is a bad idea around a big bag of hydrogen.
- Deryn tackles him, feeling it's better to take a bullet than be set on fire.
- Mr. Roland, the master rigger, arrives, and Deryn turns Alek over to him—in turn, Mr. Roland sends Deryn to find Dr. Barlow and see what she says about all the supplies Alek brought.
- Deryn climbs over the spine and sees the wrecked gondola. She's worried about Newkirk and Mr. Rigby, but she puts the thought out of her mind so she can go after Dr. Barlow.
- She finds Dr. Barlow in the cargo room, trying to salvage her secret cargo: large eggs. Most are broken from the crash.
- Dr. Barlow is very concerned with keeping the eggs warm, so Deryn gives her a thermometer Alek brought.
- Dr. Barlow immediately notices that the thermometer is marked in Celsius, indicating that it's Clanker equipment.
- Deryn tells her about the strange boy, and Dr. Barlow finds this very interesting, especially when she sees that the supplies are marked as Austrian military issue.
- When Deryn tells Dr. Barlow how bad the crash is, Dr. Barlow tells Deryn it may be fatal because the ecosystem won't be able to repair itself on a barren glacier.
- And now Dr. Barlow wants to meet Alek.
- Alek is locked in a cabin after his interrogation, a bit sulky about the whole situation and thinking about how mad Volger is going to be.
- In walk Dylan, Dr. Barlow, and Tazza—Tazza freaks Alek out, and of course, so does Dr. Barlow.
- Dr. Barlow asks a series of uncomfortable questions about Alek's family, and then suggests they show Alek the Huxleys so he'll understand how easily they can find whatever he's hiding.
- They lead Alek through the insides of the airbeast to the Huxleys, which he finds both freaky and fascinating.
- Once Alek agrees to lead them to his home under truce, Dr. Barlow addresses him in Latin. Having learned nothing from that little incident in Lienz, he answers—and he's pretty sure she knows who he is.
- According to Dr. Barlow's instructions, Dylan leads Alek to the machine rooms to check on the secret cargo.
- Dylan and Alek get into a tiff, but then they make up and Dylan explains a lot about the airship. Then they get into another tiff about which is better: machines or fabricated beasts.
- The two of them check the temperature of the eggs, grab the supplies Dylan left in the machine room earlier, and head to the sick bay.
- Dylan thanks Alek for saving him from frostbite—in a roundabout way, of course.
- On the way to sick bay, Dylan and Alek talk about how important Alek thinks he is, and Dylan reveals that his mother didn't want him to be a soldier.
- All this bickering and sharing of confidences means the two are well on their way to becoming friends.
- Deryn is on the spine of the ship, getting ready to ascend in a Huxley; she's already checked on Mr. Rigby, who is recovering quickly, and now she sees an uninjured Newkirk.
- Deryn reflects on how close of a call she had: if she'd been injured, the surgeons might have undressed her.
- Captain Hobbes blows his whistle for attention, and gives the crew the good news: things are getting repaired. Then he gives them the bad news: not enough things are getting repaired, and they may have to let the Leviathan die in order to save the people aboard.
- Deryn isn't okay with this though, and she tells Newkirk that Alek is going to help them.
- In a hurry to find out where Alek lives, she ascends while the captain is still talking.
- Up in the Huxley, Deryn scans the horizon, discovering the castle Alek came from.
- Then she spots the walker heading toward the Leviathan; she flashes a message down.
- She sees the Austrian crest and figures out that Alek isn't Swiss—and therefore, isn't neutral—so she jabbers a message to her message lizard and sends it down the rope.
- She realizes that only Alek will be able to stop the walker from attacking. The message lizard isn't moving fast enough.
- Deryn needs to go down herself, however tricky that may be.
- Deryn's sliding escape sounds really fun, we have to say—kind of like zip-lining, but way more dangerous.
- She lands on the airbeast, and it cushions her fall; warning the men around of the approaching walker, she runs to find Alek.
- When she finds him in the machine room with Dr. Barlow, she tells him what's happening, and they both begin to run for the walker.
- Deryn is trying to get the people in the walker to see Alek before anyone starts shooting.
- When they get in front of the walker, Deryn takes Alek hostage, holding a knife to his throat. It is, in fact, not betrayal but a brilliant plan.
- Deryn and Alek bicker about the relative brilliance of this plan. Like they do about everything.
- Alek tells her to ask Volger to come down under truce, which is what she does.
- Newkirk is hovering over them in a Huxley—ready to drop an aerial bomb.
- Volger descends from the walker, and Deryn and Alek both hope the negotiations work because both sides could destroy each other. Never a good situation.
- Volger approaches Alek and Dylan, and he and Alek speak in German to each other—Alek tells Volger the Darwinists can be bargained with.
- Volger decides to pretend he doesn't know English in order to try to pick up valuable information. Classic Volger.
- Alek tells Dylan that Volger would like to meet with the captain. He also realizes that Dylan's plan kept the two groups from shooting at each other and grudgingly acknowledges that it was pretty smart.
- Volger and Alek meet with Captain Hobbes, Dr. Barlow, two officers, and another scientist.
- Alek makes a big show of translating everything for Volger. He's probably trying too hard.
- The Darwinists try to figure out exactly who the Clankers are, but what the Clankers are is evasive.
- They manage to negotiate Alek's return for the food they need to repair the airship. Volger trades himself for Alek as a hostage.
- Dr. Barlow agrees to go with the Clankers as a hostage, and also so she can collect appropriate food for the Leviathan.
- Leaving Volger behind, Alek and the rest of the walker's crew head back to the castle with Dr. Barlow, Dylan, and Tazza.
- Dr. Barlow begins selecting food for the beasts, making pointed comments to Alek all the while that indicate she totally knows who he is.
- They all load up the food on a huge sleigh that the walker will pull back to the Leviathan.
- Alek and Dylan give each other a hard time about Darwinists versus Clankers, but they really are becoming good friends.
- Alek accidentally mentions he's an orphan and asks Dylan not to tell anyone in case they figure out who he really is—Dylan doesn't know who he really is though, so doesn't press the issue or even really know to press the issue in the first place. Alek realizes Dylan is the first person he's trusted in a long time.
- Because there's no reason to hide the smoke now, they all have a hot dinner and Alek and the other men take warm baths; Dr. Barlow and Dylan decline the tub.
- The next morning, they start out for the Leviathan, dragging the sleigh behind the walker.
- They see two airships coming over the mountains. At first, everyone thinks they're airbeasts, but then they realize they're German zeppelins, coming to finish the Leviathan off.
- Everyone in the walker debates what to do, but no one knows what to do except Deryn, who asks Alek for an axe.
- They have to move the walker fast, so Deryn runs back to the chain and tries to cut the sleigh free.
- She manages to free the sleigh, but the momentum starts the sleigh down the slope toward the walker. Riding the sleigh, Deryn yells for Dr. Barlow, who comes out and realizes what's happening.
- Deryn rides the sleigh toward the walker, hoping the two don't collide with her in the middle.
- Dr. Barlow throws out the ladder from the walker's belly, indicating that Deryn should grab it and climb aboard.
- As she passes the walker, Deryn leaps for the ladder, catches it, and Bauer and Hoffman help her aboard.
- Aboard the walker once more, Deryn realizes Klopp is ready to help shoot down the zeppelins, who will both destroy the Leviathan and capture, kill, or report on Alek.
- The zeppelins start putting men down on the ground, and Dr. Barlow says their goal is to capture the ship.
- Alek puts Deryn on the machine guns to fire at the Germans on the ground—one group of Germans is heading for the Leviathan, and the other is getting ready to fire on the walker.
- In the battle, Alek manages to stomp on the anti-walker gun, and things seem to be going their way.
- Then there's a loud explosion and the walker tips over.
- Alek comes to in the walker—which he's finally managed to wreck completely.
- Everyone is okay, but Dylan has been knocked unconscious and has a cut over his eye.
- Against everyone's advice—it's raining fléchettes and who knows what else out there—Alek climbs outside to see if there's anything he can do.
- This is a big moment, for Alek and for the book. Alek ends up standing right in front of the Hapsburg crest on the side of the walker, at once defying the attacking Germans and declaring his true identity.
- Bullets whip by him, missing him rather miraculously. But, hey, this is a book, so we'll give it to him.
- Then the bullets spray wildly as the German zeppelin goes up in flames.
- A bandaged Dylan climbs out of the walker as the second zeppelin makes a run for it.
- In the aftermath of the battle, Alek discovers that the walker is definitely totaled, but Klopp says it's cool: every good pilot has wrecked a walker or two.
- Meanwhile, the Leviathan's animals go to town on all that food from the castle.
- Count Volger approaches Alek and gives him a good tongue-lashing about all his heroics: now they have no way to escape, and the second zeppelin will let everyone know where they are.
- Also, the Germans destroyed the Leviathan's engines, so the ship can't fly.
- The Darwinists are going to fly without engines, anticipating that the wind will take them over France. Volger tells Alek he can surrender to the Darwinists, but Alek feels that will mark him as a traitor.
- Alek doesn't feel he has any good options, and Volger says he's done trying to help him out.
- Alek finds Dylan in the machine room and asks to see Dr. Barlow, who isn't there.
- Alek and Dylan bicker (again) about which is better: beasts or machines.
- When Dr. Barlow returns, she is furious about the whole landing-in-France plan because she wants to complete her mission to the Ottoman Empire.
- Alek tells Dr. Barlow and Dylan his plan of using the walker's engines on the Leviathan.
- Dr. Barlow sees a ray of hope. She also sees exactly who Alek is—but she confronts him in a nice way, agrees to keep his secret for now, and goes to tell the captain about the engines.
- Revealing the truth—although not in so many words—to Dr. Barlow really shakes Alek up, so Deryn comforts him as he cries and tells her about his parents.
- Deryn realizes who Alek must be, although he hasn't told her yet.
- As they talk, Deryn hints at—and Alek acknowledges—his true identity.
- Alek tells Deryn the whole story of why it was such a big deal for his father to marry a non-royal and about why he can't inherit anything.
- Alek feels he's responsible for the family squabble, and in turn, the war.
- Deryn tries to convince him that this is nonsense, but he's not convinced.
- She also tells him he's more than just a prince—he's her friend. Sniff.
- A message lizard summons Alek to help translate as the crew tries to attach the walker's engines to the ship.
- Alek gives Deryn a hug before he leaves, and Deryn realizes she really liked that hug. You know, in a more-than-friends kind of way.
- The next day, Deryn and Newkirk are on watch duty on the spine as pilots and engineers work on the new engines.
- Deryn watches Alek through her binoculars, knowing nothing is a bigger crush-kill than a girl disguised as a boy crushing on a prince who can't reveal his identity.
- Romance is driven from her mind by approaching German walkers: nothing kills the mood like approaching German walkers.
- They've got to get the ship in the air pronto.
- Deryn uses a drop line to swing down to the engine pods and let the engineers know what's up; Alek calculates and tells her the German machine will be on them in twenty minutes.
- There's more: The Germans are armed with phosphorus flares—and phosphorus plus hydrogen equals boom.
- Deryn swings off (she does a lot of swinging) to alert the bridge.
- Alek, Hoffman, Bauer, and Hirst (one of Leviathan's engineers) try to get the engines going very quickly.
- On the other side of the ship, Klopp starts his engine.
- These aren't the only engines going: the German ground attack has been joined by an aerial assault force they see rising over the mountains. Yikes.
- If this isn't suspense, we don't know what is.
- The Leviathan is in the air, but something is dragging her down. What could it be?
- Everyone on board is dropping everything that can be spared over the side, but it's not helping.
- Let's ask Count Volger about this, shall we? Yeah, he totally snuck those gold bars aboard. Mo' money, mo' problems.
- Hoffman gives Volger away, and Alek darts off to find Volger and what's left of his fortune.
- Alek runs through the airship, not sure where the gold bars would be hidden—then he realizes they must be near the bow, because the nose is tipping down.
- He finds Volger already jettisoning the gold bars.
- They argue as they pitch the gold overboard, because of course they do.
- But then comes a warm and fuzzy moment as they come to a mutual realization that Volger has been protecting Alek at every turn, and Alek says his life must take a different path.
- Also, they totes keep one gold bar—you don't want to throw all your money away, after all.
- Deryn and Newkirk are back on the spine, working with the bats again; below, they see the German machines waiting for the Leviathan to come within range.
- Deryn realizes the whale is adapting to the new Clanker engines, using them to evolve.
- The all-hands-aft signal sounds, and everyone runs to the tail to try to pitch the nose of the ship up.
- She feels the airship become suddenly lighter (goodbye, gold bars), which means it just misses being hit by the German guns.
- The ship flies out of range, and Deryn tells Newkirk the Germans won't be able to catch them now: Clanker engines on Darwinist fabrications are more powerful than either one alone. Ha.
- After three days fighting off starvation, cold, and Germans on the glacier, the Leviathan is headed for the Ottoman Empire, and Deryn is taking time out to sketch the new engines.
- Then she's summoned to the captain's quarters—this could be good or bad, folks.
- Turns out Captain Hobbes wants to pump her for information about Alek, but Deryn decides she can't give Alek away just yet.
- Later Deryn goes to see Alek, who somehow has egg duty now.
- Only three eggs remain, and Dr. Barlow is keeping them at a blisteringly hot temperature.
- Deryn tells Alek that the captain has been nosing around, trying to find out who he really is.
- Deryn and Alek discuss whether or not she should tell the captain—if she doesn't, she could hang as a traitor, but she doesn't want to betray Alek, either.
- Alek tells her she'll have to tell the truth anyway.
- Deryn realizes the Air Service would never hang a fifteen-year-old girl though, and tells Alek she's not the person he thinks she is.
- She really wants to tell him her own secret, but then Dr. Barlow comes in, ruining the moment. Like she does.
- Dr. Barlow is pretty upset about her eggs and about the way her mission is going in general; she tells Dylan and Alek that she'll handle the captain.
- Dylan reveals that the First Lord of the Admiralty is concerned about the Clankers aboard, and we learn that Dr. Barlow and Winston Churchill really don't get along, especially on issues concerning the Ottoman Empire.
- Dr. Barlow says that if Churchill finds out Alek is aboard, he'll turn the ship around and her mission will be over.
- Alek asks how Dr. Barlow can guarantee Dylan's safety, and she says she's Nora Darwin Barlow—the Darwin's granddaughter. In other words, she's pretty important.
- Dylan leaves to take Tazza for a walk, while Alek remains behind, wondering what's in those mysterious eggs.