|“||The game of nations is your birthright, Alek. Politics is part of everything you do.||”|
–Count Volger, Leviathan
Count Ernst Volger is Alek’s intelligent, no-nonsense fencing instructor. Volger, like the rest of the Stormwalker crew, gives up a lot in order to keep Alek safe. He was a very good friend of Archduke Franz Ferdinand, and helped the archduke plan his son’s escape. In the first chapter of Leviathan, Volger helps Alek flee from his home in the middle of the night after Franz Ferdinand’s assassination with the help of Otto Klopp. Volger goes into hiding with Alek and the rest of the Stormwalker crew.
Volger grew up in an aristocratic family that owns “just a bit of forest.” Volger was previously a cavalry officer. He was also a close personal friend of Archduke Franz Ferdinand, Alek's father, and had advised him not to marry Sophie Chotek sometime in the late 1890s. He also went hunting with Franz Ferdinand, and Alek remembers that they shot almost two-hundred stags.
In the seriesEdit
Before the series begins, Volger went with Alek’s father on a trip to Rome to visit the pope in order to change the terms of Alek’s parents' marriage, thus naming Alek as his father’s heir. But despite this, Volger still treats Alek as inferior, to keep up the illusion that the boy is common since the terms of the Archduke's marriage must be kept a secret until the emperor dies.
As part of this plan, at the beginning of Leviathan, Volger flees Austria-Hungary with Alek, Klopp, Bauer and Hoffman in the Stormwalker after the assassination of the archduke. Volger convinces Alek to come with he and Klopp for a midnight piloting lesson, although Alek wonders why Volger would be coming along, as he hates walkers. When Alek becomes suspicious, it is Volger who breaks the news of Alek's parents' deaths, and Volger also drugs Alek when he begins to panic. The crew of the Stormwalker obey Volger instead of Alek, so Volger is more-or-less the real leader of the Stormwalker crew, although Alek is ostensibly in charge.
On the journey to Switzerland, Volger keeps abreast of the latest military developments by listening to a portable wireless set. During a fencing lesson in a barn, Volger tells Alek that politics is his birthright, and hints at the letter to the pope, which Alek does not know about. In time, Volger reveals both the gold bars hidden in the Stormwalker and an antique sword, which was part of Franz Ferdinand's collection.
At the castle in the Swiss alps, Volger finally reveals the secret of the pope's letter and shows Alek the scroll case, but as they are discussing the scroll's implications, the two of them watch the Leviathan crash from the castle's battlements. When Alek expresses an interest in helping the stranded airship, Volger quickly attempts to dissuade him and believes that he has succeeded when Alek goes back into the castle with him.
After realizing that Alek has left to go to the Leviathan, Volger and Klopp take the Stormwalker to try to get him back from the Darwinists, but Deryn holds a knife to Alek's throat to prevent them from attacking the Leviathan. Volger pretends to not speak English so that he can spy on the British, and offers himself as a hostage in exchange for Alek's freedom and several tons of the castle's stored food. Dr. Barlow is a hostage to Alek and his men to ensure Volger's safety.
Volger becomes angry at Alek when Alek refuses to stay hidden from the Clanker zeppelins that come to capture the Leviathan, and when Alek makes a deal with the Leviathan by trading the ruined Stormwalker's engines, Volger smuggles Alek's gold bars onto the airship. When the German forces return, Alek convinces Volger to throw the gold off of the airship, but Volger manages to convince Alek to keep just one of the gold bars. He adds that he never meant to endanger Alek, and was only looking out for his interests.
In Behemoth, Volger plans for Alek's escape from the Leviathan in the Ottoman Empire. Volger had trouble communicating with Alek after Alek's injury, and he and the other Clankers are under suspicion after Britain declares war on Austria-Hungary. After Volger has been caught looking for a way to escape the airship, he convinces Alek to try to find a way out. They eventually make a plan to escape from the airfield at night. When Alek arrives with Bovril in his jacket, Volger tries to convince Alek to strangle the creature. After the alert has been sounded, Volger and Hoffman reveal that they had planned to stay behind to allow Alek to escape. Volger tells Alek to make his father proud, and seems to not notice that Alek does not feel he is ready to go on without Volger.
Volger gets to know Deyrn better as well, giving her fencing lessons and asking her to bring him newspapers. Volger also discovers Deryn's secret, and reveals it in front of Eddie Malone and his recording frog while Malone is delivering a message from Alek. Alek hopes that Volger can escape and join him in Istanbul. Deryn leaves the Leviathan before Volger can blackmail her further, however.
At the end of the novel, Alek meets with Volger in Volger's stateroom to discuss the Ottoman revolution and the pope's death. Although obviously upset about Alek's newspaper interview, Volger thanks Alek for saving his life by helping to destroy the Tesla cannon, and tests Alek to try to find if Alek has discovered Deryn's secret. He also tells Alek that he has been working with Dr. Barlow while he and Deryn were not on the airship.
Volger tries to blackmail Deryn again in Goliath, trying to get her to find out what is in the secret orders delivered by the czar's two headed eagle. Deryn refuses and threatens to tell Alek her secret if Volger asks her again. Volger also wants Alek to find out more about Tesla, and asks Alek to consider killing Tesla to save his people. However, Alek is upset with Volger when he finds out that Volger knew Deryn's secret and did not tell him.
Volger gives Alek one of his cavalry uniform jackets to have re-fitted in Japan, and continues to advise Alek about the best course of action. Volger encourages Alek to try to make the best possibly media impressions, and tells him to watch how closely he is connected with Tesla and Deryn in the newspapers.
Volger is the only one of Alek's men to stay with him after he gives up the Austro-Hungarian throne. It is unknown how Volger reacted when learning of Alek's decision to give up his claim to the throne, but he is called Alek's "spokesman" in Eddie Malone's newspaper article at the end of Goliath.
After the seriesEdit
After teaching Alek about international diplomacy during the war, Volger returns to Austria-Hungary to assist in conservation efforts of plants and animals endangered by the encroachment of fabricated beasts.
Volger is described as tall, and has a signature thick gray mustache. He usually dresses in military uniforms.
From the start of the Leviathan series Volger comes across as very haughty and derisive. It is also clear that the man is very pragmatic and clever. Volger is very well-educated, and can speak English and German fluently. He tends to look down on commoners, and is unused to physical labor. Some of these traits are related to Volger's old fashioned worldview.
Volger has a dry wit and enjoys making sarcastic comments, especially to Alek. He is very efficient, and often ruthless, such as when he drugs Alek at the beginning of Leviathan. Some of his other character traits are his loyalty and his cunning, which Deryn calls "sneakiness." He is the first character to figure out the secret of Deryn's gender and the only one, besides Lilit, who herself is a girl Deryn's age, to do so through sheer observation. As Alek notes at the beginning of Leviathan, the wildcount can easily see through deception, though Alek still manages to decieve him a few times.
The Count is also unguarded in his criticism, and usually says what he thinks. Although he is often exasperated with Alek, he seems to be genuinely fond of and concerned for him. However, he does not seem to realize that Alek looks to him as a father figure.
- Count Volger was Alek's fencing instructor in Austria-Hungary and a friend of Alek's father. Volger gives up his property and position to take Alek to safety in Switzerland. Volger remains Alek's spokesman after he has given up the throne of Austria-Hungary.
- Volger dislikes Deryn's closeness to Alek in Behemoth. He eventually tries to teach her to fence, and discovers that she is really a girl. He tries to blackmail her with this information several times.
- Main article: Relationship of Dr. Barlow and Count Volger
- Dr. Barlow and Count Volger meet when the Leviathan's crew are negotiating a hostage swap for Alek. Alek notices that Dr. Barlow and Count Volger have been exchanging information with each other while he was in Istanbul, and the Count calls her an "interesting woman."