82 pages 2 hours read

Scott Westerfeld


Fiction | Novel | YA | Published in 2009

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Symbols & Motifs

The Archduke’s Saber

Alek’s father’s saber is used only once during the book and symbolizes Alek’s decision to forge his own destiny. While Alek and the stormwalker’s crew are running toward the Swiss border, a phosphorous flare sticks to the side of the machine, revealing the stormwalker’s exact location to its enemies. To remove the flare, Alek finds an old saber in a locker and uses it to hack at the phosphorous. Volger tells Alek that the sword is over two centuries old and belonged to the Archduke, but Alek replies that his father cannot help them now. He climbs to the exhaust port of the moving walker and uses the saber to remove the flare, then throws the smoking saber into the wilderness, apologizing to his father. This is symbolic of how Alek chooses to do what he believes is right, even if that means throwing away his father’s legacy and potentially his role as Emperor. He consistently chooses to help the shipwrecked crew of the Leviathan, even though it puts himself and his crew in danger, telling Volger that he has “chosen a different path now—one less safe” (143). Just as Alek decides to throw away the heirloom saber to save the crew of the stormwalker, he throws away his own safety and sense of self-preservation to help the Leviathan’s crew, who would have died without his aid.