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That was the trick—to keep punching, no matter what.


Deryn Sharp is a 15-year-old Scottish girl. When she was young, her father took her up in hot-air balloons; this fostered a deep love of flying in Deryn. After her father's death, Deryn resorts to joining the Royal Air Service in order to get back in the air. Unfortunately, women cannot join the military, so Deryn (with the help of her brother, Jaspert) disguises herself as a boy named Dylan.

Deryn is a brilliant airman, with sharp skills and "air-sense." However, her secret keeps her in constant danger. Even though Malone finds out that Dylan is a girl, Dr Barlow (The smartest person in the book) does not find out.

Early life[]

Deryn was born and raised in Glasgow, Scotland. Her age is given in Leviathan as "barely fifteen", placing her birthdate sometime in late 1898, or more likely, in 1899. She has an older brother named Jaspert Sharp. Her mother's name is unknown. Her father, Artemis Sharp, died in a ballooning fire when she was twelve or thirteen. Her father was awarded the Air Gallantry Cross for his bravery, after he pushed Deryn out of the flaming hot air balloon. Since then, Deryn was primarily raised by her mother and her aunts, who do not approve of Deryn's tomboyish personality and interests.

In the series[]


Deryn is first introduced in chapter three of Leviathan, waking up after studying to take the midshipmens' test the night before she plans to take it. In the first part of the test, she gets stranded in the air on a Huxley and has to be rescued by the Leviathan after she floats for hours. Deryn becomes a temporary midshipman aboard the Leviathan, and later passes the exam with ease.

While she is serving on the ship, the Leviathan receives its first mission: to transport a top British scientist, Dr. Nora Barlow, and her secret cargo, to Constantinople, though nothing further is explained. Deryn is surprised to learn that Dr. Barlow is a woman, and worries that, as another female, Dr. Barlow will discover her secret. Dr. Barlow takes a liking to Deryn, and Deryn becomes her unofficial "cabin boy".

In the air over Switzerland, the Leviathan is attacked by German planes and crashes in the Alps -- incidentally where Alek and his men are hiding. Deryn is knocked out by the crash, but is revived by Alek, who brings medicine and claims to be a Swiss villager. However, he fails to convince Deryn of his story, and she sounds an alarm, resulting in his capture. Deryn helps Dr. Barlow interrogate Alek, who determines that he is not much of a threat and assigns the two of them to watch the secret cargo, which turn sout to be eggs that Dr. Barlow is very protective of (though most of them were destroyed in the crash). While tending the eggs, Deryn and Alek share some of their experiences.

Deryn flying a Huxley

The next day, Deryn, Dr. Barlow, and Alek go to his hideout to retrieve food and cargo for the wounded Leviathan. On the way back, they spot two German zeppelins approaching. The three of them, as well as the crew of Alek's Stormwalker, fight a fierce battle. Though they defeat the zeppelins, the Leviathan's engines and the Stormwalker are destroyed.

The Leviathan can now fly, but without engines the crew has no control over the ship. Alek strikes a deal with her and Dr. Barlow: he will give them the Stormwalker's engines in exchange for passage to the Ottoman Empire. In the process of bargaining, Alek's true identity as the son of Archduke Franz Ferdinand is revealed. Deryn comforts him and promises she will not reveal his secret. Alek then hugs her, and Deryn feels a "tingling sensation", indicating she may be developing romantic feelings for him...

With the more powerful Clanker engines now attached to the Leviathan, they lift off just as they are attacked by the Germans. The Leviathan escapes and sets off for the Ottoman Empire. En route, Deryn receives an order from the captain to tell him everything she knows about Alek and his men. Deryn lies to the captain, telling him that she does not know anything, and falsely promises to do her best to find out. Upon finding out about the order, Alek insists that Deryn reveal him to the captain, as he believes that she will be hanged as a traitor if her lie to the captain is discovered. However, Deryn realizes that they will not hang her, because she is a girl. In order to assuage Alek's fears, she almost tells him her secret, but is interrupted by Dr. Barlow.


Behemoth starts off with Deryn's point of view as the first chapter takes us on top of the Leviathan where Alek is teaching her how to fence. They are quickly interrupted as two German ironclads are spotted forty miles away. She and Alek split to help out the crew, Alek with the engines and Deryn to help Newkirk. Unfortunately, during the battle, the Germans unleash the Tesla cannon. Newkirk's Huxley is shot down with lightning and Deryn takes action to save Newkirk from a watery grave.

The ironclads retreat and after the battle, Deryn is reunited with Alek, who was injured during the attack while he tried to save the ship. Alek predicts that ironclads are heading to Constantinople. He then asks a favor to deliver this message to Count Volger. While reluctant to be relaying secret messages to the Clankers, she does it anyway. And in the process, Volger and Deryn quickly get off on the wrong foot after she lets slip that Alek had told his secret to her, earning Deryn a sword held to the throat by the Count. Deryn quickly reassures him only she and Dr. Barlow knew and they had promised not to tell.

That evening, Alek tries to find a way for him and his men to escape the Leviathan when Deryn finds him in the lizard room. When they find a quiet place she reveals how the event with Newkirk had brought up old memories of her father's death to the surface. Berfore they part Alek says his farwell to Deryn in case they never meet again. Deryn says goodbye, but coldly, because Alek said he was "in love with the Leviathan" and not with Deryn. Deryn then arrives in Istanbul along with Newkirk to assist Dr. Barlow. They take a ride on the Dauntless, but it is shortly hijacked by Germans. Deryn turns on her bravery and manages to save vessle with spices.

That evening Alek and some of his crew escape but Volger and Hoffman are captured and returned. Meanwhile, a grumpy Deryn searches high and low for one of the beasties that hatched from the egg the same night but Dr. Barlow doesn't seem to worried. Tired, she is unwillingly ordered to deliver Volger's breakfast. The two have a heated debate about Alek and Deryn defends him against Volger, revealing her secret. Fortunately, they come to an agreement of keeping each other informed with events.

Dr. Barlow invites Deryn to come with her during her visit to the sultan. Deryn's dress shirt is still stained with spices from the Dauntless, so she borrows and modifies one of Newkirk's shirts. Deryn and Dr. Barlow meet the Kizlar Agha on the Airyacht Stamboul, and discuss what happened to the missing egg. When they arrive at the sultan's palace, they are introduced to the sultan and Dr. Barlow offers him an egg. The sultan's automaton crushes the egg, and the sultan reveals that he has been given two ironclads by the Germans. Deryn tells Dr. Barlow that the sultan may have not intended to crush the egg, as the German engineers were controlling the automaton.

Deryn is called to the bridge before the sultan's visit to the Leviathan, and Deryn is given the Air Gallantry Cross and a secret mission to put vitriolic barnacles on the kraken nets in the straits of Gallipoli to prepare for the attack of a behemoth. As she is leaving, she notices Eddie Malone, who tells her that he has a message for Volger. Deryn and Volger hear the message and learn that Alek has met new allies and wants Hoffman and Volger to escape and join him in Istanbul. Alek's message also says that he is staying in a hotel with his mother's name.

Volger ask for Deryn's help in the escape, and threatens to reveal her secret if she does not. Unwillingly, she agrees. Before she can help them escape, however, she must go on her secret mission. One of Deryn's men is injured during their landing, and Deryn leaves the two other men on the shore while she takes a Spottiswoode Rebreather and the barnacles to destroy the kraken nets. After she finishes placing the barnacles and resurfaces, she discovers that all of her men have been captured by a scorpion walker.

Deryn inside the Orient Expresd, with a bottle of brandy.

Instead of trying to get back to the Leviathan on a British ship which may be in the harbor, she decides to try and find Alek in Istanbul. She first comes ashore near where the Orient Express is being unloaded to build a Tesla cannon near Istanbul. She hides from the German workmen inside of the train, and steals a bottle of brandy to sell in the city.

In the city, Deryn sells the brandy and visits the Library, where she discovers that Alek's mother was named Sophie. At the Hotel Hagia Sophia, Deryn orders food and waits for Alek. She see him walking in with Lilit, and immediatly suspects them of being romantically involved. She meets Alek in the elevator, and the three of them go to his suite and discuss the Committee for Union and Progress. Deryn agrees to help them, but Alek is disappointed that Volger was unable to escape.

Alek and Deryn buy disguises for Klopp and Bauer, and the four of them leave the hotel with Bovril, but must hijack a taxi in order to reach the meeting with the Committee. Deryn meets Zaven and Nene, and debates telling the Committee about the behemoth's attack on the German ironclads. Deryn suggests that since the Committee's walkers cannot be armed with ammunition, they can use spices to fight the sultan's walkers. When Deryn tells Alek about how they will not be able to return to the Hotel Hagia Sophia, he remembers that he left his letter from the pope, and Deryn agrees to go with him to retrieve it a week later.

Deryn is upset when she learns that Lilit will be coming with them to retrieve the letter, but only Alek and Deryn go into the suite to retrieve the scroll. Alek tells Deryn that he needs to tell her something, and she asks if it is about Lilit. Alek tells Deryn that Lilit likes her, but that he wanted to tell Deryn that the pope's scroll makes him the heir to the throne of Austria-Hungary. Deryn then tells Alek about the British plan to attack the ironclads with the behemoth. As they are leaving the hotel, however, they are found by Eddie Malone, who wants to interview them.

Malone threatens to write an article about how Deryn escaped from the Ottomans, and Alek tries to convince him to not publish this story. Malone tells them about the "wireless tower" the Germans are building near the railroad lines. Alek offers to let Malone interview him if he does not mention Deryn or Lilit in any articles. Lilit guesses that the Leviathan is coming back to Istanbul because of Deryn and Alek's interest in the Tesla cannon. They decide to tell the Committee that the revolution should be on the night that the Leviathan returns, and to tell Zaven about the Tesla cannon that night.

On the night of the revolution, Alek pilots a djinn, and Deryn is his navigator and spice bomb thrower. After the djinn is destroyed by the Orient Express, they see the other walkers crash, including Zaven's Şahmaran as it destroys the Tesla cannon. Lilit comes to say goodbye to them, and kisses Deryn before she leaves. Deryn uses Klopp and Bauer's crashed iron golem to send semaphore signals to the Leviathan after it destoys the Goeben. Deryn convinces Alek to come back to the Leviathan with her.


Deryn is in the middies' mess discussing great circle routes with Alek, Newkirk, and Bovril, and Alek mentions how Deryn learned about navigation from her father. Newkirk is confused, because Deryn told him that Artemis Sharp was her uncle. Bovril spots a two headed eagle from the czar, and Alek points it out to everyone. Dr. Barlow calls Deryn to the bridge of the Leviathan to take the eagle to the rookery, and Alek comes with her. There, Alek brings up Deryn's father again, and Deryn admits that she has a secret, though she refuses to tell him what it is.

Because of the message from the czar, Deryn and Newkirk are assigned to pick up an important package from a moving Russian fighting bear over Siberia. The package is heavier than expected, and is found to contain meat and the parts for a mysterious machine. Deryn helps Alek and his men put the machine together.


Physical description[]

Deryn is described as thin and tall for her age, with "fine features" and "sandy" hair. Her hair is cut short as part of her disguise. Her brother Jaspert claims that she has no "diddies" to speak of.

When she was twelve, she was taller than half the boys in her school in Glasgow, Scotland.


Deryn is strong-willed and impulsive, but very kind and caring at heart. She is capable of standing her ground in fights and arguments alike, and does not give up against obstacles. Though she prides herself on being tough, Deryn shows much empathy when Alek reveals his true identity to her, and is even sympathetic towards her enemies in battle, saying she joined the Service to fly, not to kill people.

Deryn is also very smart and a quick thinker. She has shown herself to be able to find solutions to most problems she faces, including dealing with a Huxley in a storm, jumping off the side of the Leviathan to save her fellow crewman, and forcing negotiations with Alek's men. She is fearless, except for fire, as it haunts her dreams due to her father's death. She is also very capable in flight and with "beasties." However, Deryn also tends to be somewhat arrogant, believing that she is better than most boys. She dislikes sitting around discussing issues, preferring to act instead of wasting time debating or deliberating. She is also quite sarcastic, occasionally turning a serious situation awkward, or saying the wrong thing at the wrong time.

She has several recognizable catchphrases and insults, including "Barking spiders!", "Blisters!", and "bum-rag."

As the series progresses, Deryn's personality deepens as she begins to juggle responsiblilities, struggles with her loyalties, and must keep the feelings that she has for Alek at bay. She becomes a bit more serious but is still willing to do the unthinkable when the job is needed. Alek notices that she is easily distracted by food.



Jaspert Sharp[]

Jaspert is Deryn's older brother, most likely seventeen or eighteen, and the one who helped her disguise herself as a boy. Though he frequently teases her, Deryn and Jaspert seem to be quite close.
Jaspert is also part of the Air Service. It is mentioned that he is serving as a coxswain on the Minotaur.

Artemis Sharp[]

Deryn's father flew hot-air balloons and she would frequently go along with him. One day, an accident with one of the kerosene tanks set the balloon on fire. Her father pushed her out of the basket, saving her, but causing all of the mooring ropes to break at once. This sent the balloon skywards, dooming her father and leading directly to his demise. His bravery posthumously earned him the Air Gallantry Cross, the highest honor given to a civilian for heroic deeds in the air; Deryn keeps this medal and shows it to Alek when she tells him about her father's death.
Deryn and her father were quite close. He apparently accepted Deryn's tomboyish personality and encouraged her love of flying. Deryn has stated that she was very depressed after his death, and didn't talk for almost a month.

Deryn's mother[]

Deryn does not seem to be as close to her mother as she was to her father, most likely because of her mother's disapproval of Deryn's un-ladylike tendencies. It is mentioned that after her father's death, her mother and aunts attempted to turn Deryn back into a "lady". Deryn's mother also seems to disapprove of Deryn's decision to become a soldier.

Deryn's aunts[]

Deryn has several aunts, all of whom seem to be close to her mother (though according to Scott Westerfeld, only two are actually related to Deryn's family). The "aunties" all try to turn Deryn into a proper lady after her father's death. They taught Deryn how to quilt, which gave her the required skills for tailoring boys' clothes so that they would fit her. One of Deryn's aunts has quite a fat cat.

Leviathan's Crew and Passengers[]

Dr. Nora Barlow[]

Deryn first meets Dr. Barlow in Regent's Park, where she is to pick her up and transport her secret cargo to Constantinople. Deryn is initially surprised to learn that she is a woman. As another female, Dr. Barlow comes close to guessing Deryn's secret. However, she incorrectly concludes that Deryn's smooth face is due to her being underage. The two of them get along fairly well, though Deryn occasionally finds Dr. Barlow to be somewhat annoying. When Dr. Barlow offers Deryn a job at the Zoological Society after her injury in Mexico, Deryn confesses her secret to her.
Deryn is also fond of Tazza, Dr. Barlow's pet thylacine, although she initially mistook him for a fabrication.


Newkirk is another midshipman aboard the Leviathan, and the only one to stay (along with Deryn) after the other midshipmen leave due to Dr. Barlow's arrival. Newkirk and Deryn get along well, with Newkirk never having reason to suspect that Deryn is a girl. During the battle against the Germans in Leviathan, Newkirk almost sacrifices himself to save Deryn. In Behemoth, Deryn saves Newkirk from drowning after his Huxley is struck by lighting from the German Tesla cannon. Because his mother is a Monkey Luddite, Newkirk is slightly afraid of fabricated beasties, something that Deryn enjoys mocking him about.

Mr. Rigby[]

Rigby is Deryn's superior officer and the ship's bosun. Though there isn't much of a friendly relationship, Deryn respects him and is glad to see him alive after he is shot by the Germans.

Prince Aleksandar of Hohenberg[]

Main article: Relationship of Alek and Deryn
Alek meets Deryn when he wakes her up after the Leviathan crashes. They eventually develop a close friendship which turns into love after Alek learns that Deryn is really a girl.

Count Volger[]

Though they do not interact much in Leviathan, Deryn gets to know Volger more in Behemoth. After he discovers that she is really a girl during their fencing lessons, he blackmails her to keep his escape plans secret and try to help him escape.



Main article: Relationship of Deryn and Lilit
Deryn and Lilit meet in the Hotel Hagia Sophia when Alek introduces them. Deryn is a first jealous of Lilit, thinking that she has gotten too close to Alek. Deryn stops being jealous when Alek tells her that Lilit likes Deryn herself, not Alek. Lilit chooses Deryn to help her work with the Spider. After the battle to destroy the Tesla cannon, Lilit kisses Deryn as she is saying goodbye to Deryn and Alek, much to Alek's amusement. As she is leaving, she tells Deryn that she knows more about her than she thinks, implying that she knows Deryn's secret, before flying away.

Eddie Malone[]

Deryn meets the American journalist,  Eddie Malone, on the Dauntless. She doesn't like him much, but he seems to be able to get information from many people. He brings a message from Alek to Count Volger on the Leviathan, which Deryn overhears. Deryn helps him get on the Leviathan when he is being chased by Hearst's Pinkertons. When the Leviathan stops in Mexico, he overhears her secret, and is only stopped from revealing it in an article by Alek, who offers more of his own story so that Malone will not publish Deryn's secret.


  1. Scott Westerfeld (October 21, 2012). Forum-Meet-Up Transcript.