With the Great War brewing, Alek's and Deryn's paths cross in the most unexpected way, taking them both aboard the Leviathan on a fantastical, around-the-world adventure. One that will change both their lives forever.
The characters too are wholly believable. On the one hand we are first presented with Prince Aleksander, son of the Archduke Ferdinand and potential heir to an empire. As in our world's history the Archduke is murdered in Sarajevo, but this is where the story diverges from our own world's. Alek, with the help of a few faithful family 'staff', manages to escape on a clanker on the night of his parents' murders and sets off on an adventure across Austria, evading the enemy powers that would have him join his dead parents.