Review Blog

Jun 24 2009

Worldshaker by Richard Harland

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Allen and Unwin, 2009. ISBN 9781741757095
(Ages 12+) Recommended. Colbert Porpentine is a teenager living on board Worldshaker, a huge steam driven Juggernaut that flies around the world. It is a highly structured society of 10,000 people, ruled by Queen Victoria and run by her commander in chief, Mormus Porpentine, with the elite families at the top of the pecking order, followed by officers and Menials who are mute servants. Last of all, there are another 2,000 Filthies, who are not considered human at all. When Col discovers Riff, a young Filthies girl, hiding under his bed, he can't imagine how his world is going to change.
Harland has created a very believable world, in which class distinctions are all important. The highly stratified aristocratic society that Col has been born into is vividly described. As the author skilfully unfolds details about the ship and how its society operates, the reader becomes very involved in Col's gradual awakening to what is really happening around him.
It is the characters that drew me into this book. Right from the first page I became engrossed in Col's naivety about the people around him and I loved the courage and leadership that Riff displayed. Mormus is satisfactorily drunk on power and Col's grandmother is deliciously evil.
There is plenty of action and suspense to suit those who love adventure, with some daring escapes through dangerous machinery and some exciting fight sequences and I look forward to the next instalment.
Readers who enjoyed other titles from the steampunk genre (books set in alternative Victorian times), like Philip Reeve's Larklight and The laws of magic series by Michael Pryor, will find this one enjoyable. It is darker and more complex and a great read, with lots of sly humour to alleviate the seriousness.
Pat Pledger

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