Genres: adventure, fantasy, steampunk,
Release Date: 2002
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The great traction city
London has been skulking in the hills to avoid the bigger, faster,
hungrier cities loose in the Great Hunting Ground. But now, the sinister
plans of Lord Mayor Mangus Crome can finally unfold.
Valentine, London's Head Historian and adored famous archaeologist, and
his lovely daughter, Katherine, are down in The Gut when the young
assassin with the black scarf strikes toward his heart, saved by the
quick intervention of Tom, a lowly third-class apprentice. Racing after
the fleeing girl, Tom suddenly glimpses her hideous face: scarred from
forehead to jaw, nose a smashed stump, a single eye glaring back at him.
"Look at what your Valentine did to me!" she screams. "Ask him! Ask him
what he did to Hester Shaw!" And with that she jumps down the waste
chute to her death. Minutes later Tom finds himself tumbling down the
same chute and stranded in the Out-Country, a sea of mud scored by the
huge caterpillar tracks of cities like the one now steaming off over the
In a stunning literary debut, Philip Reeve has created a
painful dangerous unforgettable adventure story of surprises, set in a
dark and utterly original world fueled by Municipal Darwinism - and
Mortal Engines is a very strange fantasy tale where London has become a moving city, travelling across the land and eating up the smaller cities and using the materials and parts for their own city. It's a very strange concept to get your head around and for a while I was finding it difficult to get into this book but I'm glad I stuck with it as I really enjoyed the ending.
There's four main characters, but most of the story is told from Tom and Katherine's point of views. They're paired with Pod for Katherine and Hester for Tom and the two pairs have their own adventures and problems to worry about. Katherine would make an amazing ruler of the city, she's never looks down on anyone and tries to help wherever she can.
I wasn't sure about Tom. He has an almost narrator role, it's like he's not really there, he's just narrating. He's kind of useless, leaving Hester to do everything and his back story isn't very interesting either. I would have preferred to just cut him out completely and have the story focused on Hester or Katherine, who are much, much more interesting and actually do stuff.
I'm a bit late to the Mortal Engines party (only you know, 12 years) but I really did enjoy this book. I have the sequel too, so I'm looking forward to finding out what happens next for our characters - I think the sequel will be stronger than this book, as this one was slow in places but the Predator's Gold sounds like it's action packed.