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A Darkling Plain (The Hungry City Chronicles Series #4)

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The once-great traction city of London is now just a radioactive wreck, a ruin haunted by electrical discharges and the dashed hopes of the people who once called it home—people like Tom Natsworthy. Twenty years after he fled, intending never to return, he discovers that something stirs in the remains of the old city.

Tom and his daughter, Wren, aren't the only people interested in London. The desperate armies of the Traction Cities and the Green Storm are also closing in, ...

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First Edition Good [ No Hassle 30 Day Returns ] [ Edition: First Edition ] Publisher: HarperTeen Pub Date: 5/29/2007 Binding: Hardcover Pages: 576.

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A Darkling Plain (The Hungry City Chronicles Series #4)

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Overview

The once-great traction city of London is now just a radioactive wreck, a ruin haunted by electrical discharges and the dashed hopes of the people who once called it home—people like Tom Natsworthy. Twenty years after he fled, intending never to return, he discovers that something stirs in the remains of the old city.

Tom and his daughter, Wren, aren't the only people interested in London. The desperate armies of the Traction Cities and the Green Storm are also closing in, certain that whatever is taking shape within the city holds the key to victory in their never-ending war.

But it may be too late. Even as Tom and Wren hurry to uncover the mystery of London, Hester Shaw—estranged from her husband and her daughter—tracks the resurrected Stalker Fang, who has found another way to end the war and all life on the planet once and for all.

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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly

Reeve's massive, ambitious Hungry City Chronicles series roars to a fine conclusion in this fourth installment. War is raging between the Traction Cities and the vicious Green Storm, but Lady Naga has brought about peace negotiations. Loyalists to the Stalker Fang still move about, though, and young Theo is enlisted to get the Lady Naga to safety. Meanwhile, Tom Natsworthy and his daughter Wren learn that there is movement within the smoldering, immobile ruins of London; they return to their old home to learn that a New London is being secretly built, a levitating city with no need for wheels-and no jaws for devouring other cities. Elsewhere, the Stalker Fang has activated a doomsday weapon called ODIN, with the intent of blackening the entire surface of the Earth, so that it might one day be green again. Battle sequences are punctuated by a sudden switch to present-tense prose, lending a sense of immediacy to the conflicts; the finale is poignant, and it elegantly references the opening lines of the first book in the series. Taken as a whole, the Hungry City Chronicles is a remarkable body of work, one that stands beside The Lord of the Rings and His Dark Materials in terms of re-readability and scope. Complex, intelligent and rewarding, Reeve's world is truly one to get lost in. Ages 12-up. (June)

Copyright 2007 Reed Business Information
Children's Literature - Julia Beiker
In A Darkling Plain, multiple sub plots diverge into mini stories that eventually merge into this complex and unusual novel about survival after the effects of world wide domination and destruction. This action packed novel will take the reader through many twist and turns as they explore what once was the world as we knew it. The pivotal point comes when Tom Natsworthy and his daughter discover what has been hidden for many years on the place called London. Now they must figure out how this discovery can be saved and how to prevent further global annihilation as they move in and out of the lives of many characters that become friends and foes to them. The author, Philip Reeve, constructs an epic story that reads as hard core science fiction. He manages to take the old world and converge it with a new world and creates a place where no reader has gone before or will go again. The depth of the characters is reflected in every scene as they make decisions that encompass and build to the next conflict, keeping the flow of the story fluid. It did take some time to incorporate myself into the story because I had not read other books in the "Hungry City Chronicles." which lead into this novel. I would suggest reading them before tackling this story. This book needs to be savored and not just read.
KLIATT - Paula Rohrlick
Reeve concludes this outstanding SF series in great style, picking up the various threads of the tale about six months after the end of the previous volume, Infernal Devices. In a post-apocalyptic future in which cities roam around on traction wheels, consuming all in their path in order to survive, people are now rumored to be living in the wreckage of what was once London: they are secretly developing a new technology that may hold the key to the future. As Tom and his plucky daughter Wren head there to find out what's going on, his estranged wife Hester, accompanied by the frightening but faithful cyborg Stalker Grike, sets out to find the resurrected Stalker Fang, who is trying to destroy the world. Theo comes to the aid of Dr. Zero, from Green Storm, finds Wren again, and romance blossoms; Lost Boy urchin Fishcake and braggart Pennyroyal play important roles as well. Suspense is maintained throughout this fine saga, with many action scenes, touches of humor (I liked the mention of "all-devouring goddess" Thatcher), complex characters and inventive details. Thrilling right to the satisfying end.
School Library Journal

Gr 7-10
The final installment in the series continues the clever premise and breakneck pace established by the first three volumes. This story begins six months after the action in Infernal Devices (HarperCollins, 2006). A tentative peace seems likely to end years of warfare between gigantic traction cities that grind across the landscape consuming everything in their paths and stationary communities that denounce their destruction of nature. Then dissenting members of both sides sabotage the truce, and Theo Ngoni, Wren Natsworthy, and Wren's parents are drawn into the resulting mayhem. To complicate matters further, the Stalker Fang, a terrifying amalgam of killer robot and human corpse, has survived her presumed destruction and is intent on eradicating all human life so that Earth can recover from human depredation. Separate, interweaving story lines follow the principal characters as they encounter dozens of others from the earlier books while traversing the former Europe and Asia at top speed by airship, sand ship, traction city, and predator suburb. While readers new to the series will enjoy the hairbreadth escapes, humor, and romance, they may get lost in the complicated politics of the Traktionstadtsgesellschaft, the Anti-Tractionist League, the Green Storm, townies, mossies, etc., making the book more satisfying for readers already familiar with the impressive future revealed in the previous books. With its popular appeal and increasingly relevant theme of global-environmental conflict, this is a worthy conclusion to a series that ranks among the best science fiction for young people in recent years.
—Beth WrightCopyright 2006 Reed Business Information.

Kirkus Reviews
Taking his cue from "Dover Beach," Matthew Arnold's musing on isolation and anxiety in a world without faith, Reeve delivers a suitably explosive finish to his grueling Hungry City Chronicles. In the wake of the destruction of the Stalker Fang, an uneasy truce between the Green Storm and the traction cities is threatened by the kidnapping of Lady Naga, wife of the new leader of the Storm. Young Theo Ngoni finds himself swept along with Hester Shaw, the nihilistic mother of Wren, the girl he loves, and the Stalker Grike, who in his own dead way loves Hester. Meanwhile, Wren and her father Tom Natsworthy pursue rumors of renewed activity to London, the once-great city destroyed at the end of Mortal Engines (2003). And what's this? Lost Boy Fishcake and the re-Resurrected Stalker Fang are making their way across what used to be Asia to deploy an Old Tech satellite weapon called odin. All stops are pulled out in this pyrotechnic conclusion that follows multiple narratives with such rapid-fire transitions that it will have readers gasping for breath-and humming with satisfaction at the just-right end. (Fiction. 12+)
Bulletin of the Center for Children’s Books (starred review)
“A bold, sprawling conclusion that befits a bold, sprawling series.”
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780060890551
  • Publisher: HarperCollins Publishers
  • Publication date: 5/29/2007
  • Series: Hungry City Chronicles Series , #4
  • Pages: 576
  • Age range: 12 - 17 Years
  • Lexile: 1000L (what's this?)
  • Product dimensions: 6.00 (w) x 9.00 (h) x 1.69 (d)

Meet the Author

Philip Reevewas born in Brighton, England. Inspired by the Asterix and Tintin books he loved as a boy, he became a cartoonist and, many years later, the illustrator of several highly successful children's book series in the United Kingdom. He has been writing since he was five, but mortal engines, the first book in the Hungry City Chronicles, was his first published novel. He has since followed that with Predator's Gold, Infernal Devices, and the Victorian space opera Larklight. Mr. Reeve lives on Dartmoor with his wife, Sarah, and their son, Samuel.

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Read an Excerpt

A Darkling Plain

Chapter One

Super-Gnats Over Zagwa

Theo had been climbing since dawn; first on the steep roads and paths and sheep tracks behind the city, then across slopes of shifting scree, and up at last onto the bare mountainside, keeping where he could to corries and crevices where the blue shadows pooled. The sun was high overhead by the time he reached the summit. He paused there awhile to drink water and catch his breath. Around him the mountains quivered behind veils of heat haze rising from the warm rocks.

Carefully, carefully, Theo edged his way onto a narrow spur that jutted out from the mountaintop. On either side of him sheer cliffs dropped for thousands of feet to a tumble of spiky rocks, trees, white rivers. A stone, dislodged, fell silently, end over end, forever. Ahead Theo could see nothing but the naked sky. He stood upright, took a deep breath, sprinted the last few yards to the edge of the rock, and jumped.

Over and over he went, down and down, dazed by the flicker of mountain and sky, mountain and sky. The echoes of his first cry bounded away into silence, and he could hear nothing but his quick-beating heart and the rush of the air past his ears. Tumbling on the wind, he emerged from the crag's shadow into sunlight and glimpsed below him—far below—his home, the static city of Zagwa. From up here the copper domes and painted houses looked like toys; airships coming and going from the harbor were windblown petals, the river winding through its gorge a silver thread.

Theo watched it all fondly till it was hidden from him by a shoulder of the mountains. There had been a time when he hadthought that he would never return to Zagwa. In the Green Storm training camp they had taught him that his love for home and family was a luxury, something that he must forget if he was to play his part in the war for a world made green again. Later, as a captive slave on the raft city of Brighton, he had dreamed of home, but he had thought that his family would not want him back; they were old-fashioned Anti-Tractionists, and he imagined that by running away to join the Storm, he had made himself an outcast forever. Yet here he was, back among his own African hills; it was his time in the north that seemed to him now like a dream.

And it was all Wren's doing, he thought as he fell. Wren, that odd, brave, funny girl whom he had met in Brighton, his fellow slave. "Go home to your mother and father," she had told him, after they had escaped together. "They still love you, and they'll welcome you, I'm sure." And she had been right.

A startled bird shot past on Theo's left, reminding him that he was in midair above a lot of unfriendly-looking rocks, and descending fast. He opened the great kite that was strapped to his back and let out a whoop of triumph as the wings jerked him upward and his dizzy plunge turned into a graceful, soaring flight. The roar of the wind rushing past him died away, replaced by gentler sounds: the whisper of the broad panels of silicone silk, the creak of rigging and bamboo struts.

When he was younger, Theo had often brought his kite up here, testing his courage on the winds and thermals. Lots of young Zagwans did it. Since his return from the north, six months ago, he had sometimes looked enviously at their bright wings hanging against the mountains, but he had never dared to join them. His time away had changed him too much; he felt older than the other boys his age, yet shy of them, ashamed of the things he had been: a Tumbler-bomb pilot, and a prisoner, and a slave. But this morning the other cloud-riders were all at the citadel to see the foreigners. Theo, knowing that he would have the sky to himself, had woken up longing to fly again.

He slid down the wind like a hawk, watching his shadow swim across the sunlit buttresses of the mountain. Real hawks, hanging beneath him in the glassy air, veered away with sharp mews of surprise and indignation as he soared past, a lean black boy beneath a sky-blue wing invading their element.

Theo looped the loop and wished that Wren could see him. But Wren was far away, traveling the bird roads in her father's airship. After they had escaped from Cloud 9, the mayor of Brighton's airborne palace, and reached the Traction City of Kom Ombo, she had helped Theo find a berth aboard a southbound freighter. On the quay, while the airship was making ready to depart, they had said good-bye, and he had kissed her. And although Theo had kissed other girls, some much prettier than Wren, Wren's kiss had stayed with him; his mind kept going back to it at unexpected moments like this. When he kissed her, all the laughter and the wry irony went out of her and she became shivery and serious and so quiet, as if she were listening hard for something he could not hear. For a moment he had wanted to tell her that he loved her, and ask her to come with him, or offer to stay—but Wren had been so worried about her dad, who had suffered some sort of seizure, and so angry at her mum, who had abandoned them and fallen with Cloud 9 into the desert, that he would have felt he was taking advantage of her. His last memory of her was of looking back as his ship pulled away into the sky and seeing her waving, growing smaller and smaller until she was gone.

Six months ago! Already half a year. . . . It was definitely time he stopped thinking about her.

A Darkling Plain. Copyright © by Philip Reeve. Reprinted by permission of HarperCollins Publishers, Inc. All rights reserved. Available now wherever books are sold.
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Customer Reviews

Average Rating 4.5
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Sort by: Showing all of 6 Customer Reviews
  • Anonymous

    Posted July 13, 2013

    Awesome

    Awesome but sad at the end

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  • Anonymous

    Posted January 14, 2013

    AWESOME

    I think Philip Reeve dud a really good job!

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  • Posted January 17, 2009

    more from this reviewer

    I Also Recommend:

    We end where we begin

    The final book in the Hungry city chronicles brings the series full circle as Tom returns to London, Hester and Shrike are reunited, and the post-apocolyptic world of the traction cities is changed forever.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted November 16, 2012

    No text was provided for this review.

  • Anonymous

    Posted May 12, 2010

    No text was provided for this review.

  • Anonymous

    Posted February 7, 2013

    No text was provided for this review.

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