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Worldshaker (Worldshaker #1)

3.62  ·  Rating Details ·  2,192 Ratings  ·  264 Reviews
Col lives on the Upper Decks of the juggernaut Worldshaker, a mobile city as big as a mountain. He has been chosen as next Supreme Commander—but then a girl, Filthy, escaped from Below and appeared in his cabin. “Don’t let ’em take me!” she begs.

Will he hand her over, or will he break all the rules? Col’s safe, elite world is about to fall apart.
Paperback, 384 pages
Published May 1st 2009 by Allen & Unwin (first published January 1st 2009)
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Ranting Dragon
Aug 16, 2011 Ranting Dragon rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: michelle

Richard Harland’s Worldshaker is a dystopian steampunk adventure aimed at young adult readers. Although it is targeted at a younger audience, I found this novel to be an entertaining and worthwhile read that I finished in one sitting.

A steampunk coming of age story
Worldshaker tells the story of Col Porpentine, grandson of Sir Mormus Porpentine, Supreme Commander of the industrial juggernaut Worldshaker. Col lives a privileged yet sheltered life on the elit
Kate Forsyth
I should probably declare that Richard Harland is a good friend of mine and so I really, really wanted to like this book. Luckily, I loved it! I’ve been told it’s a YA steam punk novel – steam punk is not a new genre but it’s hot at the moment and once I realised it simply meant books set in a sort of alternative Victorian world with lots of steam-propelled gadgets and frockcoats and corsets, I knew I’d enjoy it. It’s an action-packed novel full of humour and drama and Dickensian characters and ...more
Karen Kaiser
The fair thing for me to do would be to give this book three stars, not two. It's not a bad book. It's actually a pretty good book. But...
well, there's so much to say. I just hope I can remember everything I was thinking.

Col...I wasn't a huge fan of his character. He's a wealthy, sheltered, naive teenage boy who didn't really have any personality, and none of that inspired affection in me. Then he meets Riff, and he morphs into this sappy kid who's experiencing his first love. 'He remembered the
Jun 03, 2015 Lydia rated it really liked it
I read this when I was quite young but I did really enjoy it.

It's Young Adult, and it's about two kids who are living on a huge airship, and it's presented as a microcosm of the United Kingdom.

I really liked it because this author actually presented issues of class and gender and those relationships in quite a thoughtful way. It felt like a mature book to me, and I appreciated the idea that just because it's a Young Adult novel, doesn't mean it can't be serious or present big ideas.

This was my f
Kristin Madelaine Hanna Hansen
It was for school. So yeah.
Jun 24, 2012 Indrani rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I've been having difficulty writing a review for this book, though I'm not sure why.

In short, I thought it was an enjoyable romp, even if many of the elements were rather familiar. Mr. Harland captures the stuffiness of Victorian principles well, and yet manages to make some of his upper-class characters empathetic. His writing is crisp, and he generally kept things moving forward at a good clip, while managing to toss in some character development.

Are there cliches involved, and has Mr. Harland
BAYA Librarian
Worldshaker is a Romeo and Juliet love story set in steam-punk world where “civilized” people live on massive steam powered vessels. Colbert Porpentine is the Romeo of this tale and also the grandson of the supreme commander of the Worldshaker dreadnought. Col as it turns out, has been chosen to succeed his grandfather as supreme commander of Worldshaker. However, an encounter with a Filthy (or lower class) girl causes Colbert to question his life on the Worldshaker. The Filthy girl Riff (or Jul ...more
May 17, 2012 Sam rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
It's hard to give a rating to this book because I disliked the beginning and enjoyed the end.
There are a few things that bothered me that I can overlook, the length of the chapters being an example (short chapters are one of my biggest pet peeves, in this book the chapters average 5 pages which makes them less annoying but still bothersome). One thing I could not look past was the way Riff was portrayed. I felt like she didn't fit with the romance idea that the author was trying to create. Her s
Jun 02, 2010 Tracey rated it liked it
I picked this up in the adult book reading section and really think it needed to be over in the young adult section as I think the book would sit better there.

It was enjoyable read.

The world Harland has created has a great deal of interest and there was enough smattering of a back story to understand how this place came into being. There are lot of themes/views/politics running slyly through the book which includes colonialism, communism, class struggles, and exposing the voice of the 'other'.
Jan 15, 2010 Lisa rated it liked it
Shelves: urban-fantasy, tweens
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Oct 01, 2012 bird rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
This was the first time in my life that I couldn't finish a book. I skimmed the second half because I found the writing style really annoying. The plot really made no sense and I was confused half the time. Even when I got to the climax I was bored. And books usually don't bore me. I hated how the author portrayed Riff and certain other characters. I felt like the author told us everything instead of showing us. Plus the excessive use of exclamation points annoyed me.

I did like a few things howe
Amy B
Oct 09, 2015 Amy B rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Made it about halfway through before skimming it. :\ I'm not sure why I didn't enjoy it more, maybe it just wasn't for me? It felt perhaps a little static and I was expecting just a little more oomph. A little more to like in the characters of Col and Riff - they were almost TOO consistent in their characters if that makes sense. Anywho, enjoyed the concept but didn't feel like I could really get into it.
Steampunk! If you're really desperate to read about giant travelling mechanical cities, Phillip Reeve's Mortal Engine series is better, but this is a pretty good adventure story for middle school boys. It sort of deals with colonialism and class structure, but only in the most simplistic way possible--the city is fuelled by the work of "Filthies," the lower class, and literally crushes native populations as it rolls over land.
Sep 06, 2015 Rachel rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
A similar concept to Mortal Engines. Where M.E. focused more on the wider world beyond the steampunk-juggernaut-city-on-wheels, Worldshaker focuses on the city itself, allowing for greater depth and development of ideas. I had no interest in reading a sequel to M.E., but I would read a sequel to this. Worldshaker was far better written and better executed than M.E., with a better plot and better characters - at least in my opinion.
Carli Fitzpatrick
Sep 03, 2011 Carli Fitzpatrick rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: sci-fi
This was incredible i love Col and Riff together.
Sam S.
Oct 27, 2014 Sam S. rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I really liked it!
Jul 12, 2010 Maria rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: 10-13 year-olds.
The first time I read this story I liked it, but was a little underwhelmed by what I thought was too simple a story. This book is rated for 10-13 year-olds, and the vocabulary and chapter length has been modified to accommodate this young audience. As a result, Col seems a little too naïve, and in places the text feels ideologically heavy handed to me; if I had written my review after my first reading, I would likely not had much positive to say. By the time I read Harland’s text I had already r ...more
Ian Wood
This is the complete review as it appears on my blog. Note that links in the blog review are not reproduced here, nor will updates and modifications to the blog review be replicated here.


Worldshaker is a steam-punk novel, part of a dilogy about the education of Colbert Porpentine, grandson of the master of Worldshaker, Sir Marmus Porpentine. Worldshaker is a massive ship, two and a half miles long, three-quarters of a mile wide, well over a thousand feet high, home to ten thousand
Jussssst eked out that third star. Col begins the book as Upper-Class Twit of the Year, and while his development is decently-paced and believable, the urge to punch him repeatedly for the first 100 or so pages was strong. Very interesting alternate-history track, and the stagnation of Worldshaker society, mired as it is in Victorian mores and mindsets that they've had utterly no reason to change, goes from silly/annoying to frightening in slow degrees.

Noted that there's a very Dickensian feel t
Aug 18, 2014 El-jorro rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Bookworm Speaks!

Worldshaker by Richard Harland


Steampunk is considered to be alternate history by many of its enthusiasts and it is. It describes an age of the past that diverted from our own timeline into a different time. Often times there is tipping point that branches one timeline from the other. Often times it is a war, something goes down differently than what is written in history books and everything changes. But some books take it to another level and not just tell a story of the sa
Jun 06, 2011 Michelle rated it really liked it
Also published under The Ranting Dragon
Author Interview:

Richard Harland’s Worldshaker is a dystopian steampunk adventure aimed at young adult readers. Although it is targeted at a younger audience, I found this novel to be an entertaining and worthwhile read that I finished in one sitting.

A steampunk coming of age story
Worldshaker tells the story of Col Porpentine, grandson of Sir Mormus Porpentine, Supreme Commander of the industrial juggernaut Worldshaker. Col lives a priv
Kathryn Ryder
Feb 05, 2017 Kathryn Ryder rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Brilliant book. The setting and characters are different and interesting.
2.5 stars. Worldshaker started off quite well, despite a weak protagonist in Col, but then it hit a wall around the middle and nothing happened for about a hundred pages. It does pick up briefly at the end with a rush of action, but everything goes by so quickly and ends so quickly that I'm left going, "...That's it?!" I must admit I was a little disappointed.

It begins with Col's initial meeting with Riff and his personal struggle over the matter as he tries to accept that Filthies are not stupi
May 14, 2014 Lydia rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
The great juggernaut, Worldshaker has stood the test of years. For Colbert Porpentine, or Col, it has been home all his life and as a member of the first family and grandson of the supreme commander (who is second only to the Queen), that life has been a very easy one. However, when his grandfather announces his intention to name Col his successor, the world that Col thought he knew begins to change as things that have been in the shadows and only whispered about away from the ears of "polite" s ...more
Sep 20, 2012 Ingrid rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
I'm finding that as the days go by and I get older (and presumably wiser), I become disappointed with most young adult fiction. It seems that the authors of that genre lack depth and brains. They don't seem to think things through and thus, write books that have discrepancies and are covered with holes. Naturally, there are some true, YA authors who are exceptionally brilliant and redeem the genre. Harland isn't one of the brilliant sort. He's good, but he had discrepancies and obvious holes in ...more
Melody Daggerhart
Apr 05, 2016 Melody Daggerhart rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Notes of Interest:

The last book review I did was on the steampunk novel Boneshaker. It is therefore necessary to mention these books have nothing to do with each other and were written by two different authors.
I chose to read this book because I was looking for something steampunk to read. I didn't realize it was YA because it was a borrowed book, rather than a purchased book. But as soon as I started reading that became apparent through both the character depictions and the writing style. (Not
Feb 09, 2012 Amy rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: meh
For more reviews, check out

Honestly, I'm a bit conflicted about this book. On one hand, it had some excellent character development, with villains that angered me in a good way (nearly making me want to chuck my Nook at the nearest wall), and some sweet action. On the other hand, the story sagged a LOT half of the time, and I just was not interested at those momements. The characters and dialogue did not live up to snuff in that half of the book I disliked.
Will Everett
Sep 25, 2013 Will Everett rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I've read this book before, but it still enthralls me! It's set in an alternate future, where massive ships called juggernauts roll over land and sea in secure isolation...or so Colbert Porpentine, our influential young protagonist believes; this illusion of safety is shattered when a young woman of the slave class known as the Filthies escapes her home on the Lower Decks and sneaks into his room, aboard the juggernaut known as "Worldshaker". He agrees to hide this girl, named Riff, and he event ...more
Alison Todd
Col who is wealthy meets a filthy (Poor) girl whose name is Riff. Col's grandfather want him to be the next supreme commander. Col's grandfather takes him on a tour of the whole juggernaut which its name is Worldshaker. Col has to start regular school at Dr. Blessamy's Academy instead having a private tutor. Riff escaped the people who trying to make her a slave, and now she cant find a way to get back down below where she lives. Col finds a way, down a food chute. Col takes her to the food chut ...more
P. Kirby
Sep 29, 2011 P. Kirby rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: ya, steampunk
In this alternate history, city-sized juggernauts travel the world, over sea and sometimes over land, each representing a country. Britain's juggernaut, the Worldshaker, is commanded by Magnus Porpentine, Col Porpentine's grandfather. When Magnus declares that Col is his successor, it seems that Col's life is truly about to begin. Except there's the matter of the Filthy girl who sneaked into his cabin one night...

See in the world of the juggernauts there are the elites, a couple thousand of the
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Can you describe it in one word??? 3 5 Feb 12, 2016 08:10PM  
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My latest novels have been my big international breakthrough, published in the US, UK, Australia, France, Germany and Brazil. They're all steampunk fantasy: WORLDSHAKER, its sequel LIBERATOR, and now SONG OF THE SLUMS (same world, new story) appearing in May 2013.

SONG OF THE SLUMS is about the invention of rock 'n roll - 100 years before Elvis Presley! In a world enshrouded with fog and smog, the
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Other Books in the Series

Worldshaker (2 books)
  • Liberator (Worldshaker, #2)

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