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It was a dark, blustery afternoon in spring, and the city of London was chasing a small mining town across the dried-out bed of the old North Sea ...
The great traction city london is on the move again. It has been lying low, skulking in the hills to avoid the bigger, faster, hungrier cities loose in the Great Hunting Ground. But now, as its great mountain of metal lumbers along in hot pursuit of its quarry, the sinister plans it has harbored ...
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It was a dark, blustery afternoon in spring, and the city of London was chasing a small mining town across the dried-out bed of the old North Sea ...
The great traction city london is on the move again. It has been lying low, skulking in the hills to avoid the bigger, faster, hungrier cities loose in the Great Hunting Ground. But now, as its great mountain of metal lumbers along in hot pursuit of its quarry, the sinister plans it has harbored for years can finally start to unfold behind its soaring walls ...
Thaddeus Valentine, London's Head Historian and most famous archaeologist, and his daughter, Katherine, are down in The Gut when the young assassin with the black scarf strikes. Only the quick intervention of Tom, a lowly third-class apprentice, prevents Valentine from being stabbed in the heart. Madly 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 horizon.
In a stunning literary debut, Philip Reeve has created an unforgettable adventure story set in a dark and utterly original world fueled by Municipal Darwinism — and betrayal.
In the distant future, when cities move about and consume smaller towns, a fifteen-year-old apprentice is pushed out of London by the man he most admires and must seek answers in the perilous Out-Country, aided by one girl and the memory of another.
It was a dark, blustery afternoon in spring, and the city of London was chasing a small mining town across the dried-out bed of the old North Sea.
In happier times, London would never have bothered with such feeble prey. The great Traction City had once spent its days hunting far bigger towns than this, ranging north as far as the edge of the Ice Wastes and south to the shores of the Mediterranean. But lately prey of any kind had started to grow scarce, and some of the larger cities had begun to look hungrily at London. For ten years now it had been hiding from them, skulking in a damp, mountainous western district that the Guild of Historians said had once been the island of Britain. For ten years it had eaten nothing but tiny farming towns and static settlements in those wet hills. Now, at last, the Lord Mayor had decided that the time was right to take his city back over the land bridge into the Great Hunting Ground.
It was barely halfway across when the lookouts on the high watchtowers spied the mining town, gnawing at the salt flats twenty miles ahead. To the people of London it seemed like a sign from the gods, and even the Lord Mayor (who didn't believe in gods or signs) thought it was a good beginning to the journey east, and issued the order to give chase.
The mining town saw the danger and turned tail, but already the huge caterpillar tracks under London were starting to roll faster and faster. Soon the city was lumbering in hot pursuit, a moving mountain of metal that rose in seven tiers like the layers of a wedding cake, the lower levels wreathed in engine smoke, the villas of the rich gleaming white on the higher decks, and above it all the cross on top of St. Paul's Cathedral glinting gold, two thousand feet above the ruined earth.
Tom was cleaning the exhibits in the London Museum's Natural History section when it started. He felt the telltale tremor in the metal floor, and looked up to find the model whales and dolphins that hung from the gallery roof swinging on their cables with soft creaking sounds.
He wasn't alarmed. He had lived in London for all of his fifteen years, and he was used to its movements. He knew that the city was changing course and putting on speed. A prickle of excitement ran through him, the ancient thrill of the hunt that all Londoners shared. There must be prey in sight! Dropping his brushes and dusters, he pressed his hand to the wall, sensing the vibrations that came rippling up from the huge engine rooms down in the Gut. Yes, there it was—the deep throb of the auxiliary motors cutting in, boom, boom, boom, like a big drum beating inside his bones.
The door at the far end of the gallery slammed open and Chudleigh Pomeroy came storming in, his toupee askew and his round face red with indignation. "What in the name of Quirke . . . ?" he blustered, gawking at the gyrating whales, and the stuffed birds jigging and twitching in their cases as if they were shaking off their long captivity and getting ready to take wing again. "Apprentice Natsworthy! What's going on here?"
"It's a chase, sir," said Tom, wondering how the Deputy Head of the Guild of Historians had managed to live aboard London for so long and still not recognize its heartbeat. "It must be something good," he explained. "They've brought all the auxiliaries on line. That hasn't happened for ages. Maybe London's luck has turned!"
"Pah!" snorted Pomeroy, wincing as the glass in the display cases started to whine and shiver in sympathy with the beat of the engines. Above his head the biggest of the models—a thing called a blue whale that had become extinct thousands of years ago—was jerking back and forth on its hawsers like a plank swing. "That's as may be, Natsworthy," he said. "I just wish the Guild of Engineers would fit some decent shock absorbers in this building. Some of these specimens are very delicate. It won't do. It won't do at all." He tugged a stained handkerchief out of the folds of his long black robes and dabbed his face with it.
"Please, sir," asked Tom, "could I run down to the observation platforms and watch the chase, just for half an hour? It's been years since there was a really good one."
Pomeroy looked shocked. "Certainly not, Apprentice! Look at all the dust that this wretched chase is shaking down! All the exhibits will have to be cleaned again and checked for damage."
"Oh, but that's not fair!" cried Tom. "I've just dusted this whole gallery!"
He knew at once that he had made a mistake. Old Chudleigh Pomeroy wasn't bad as Guildsmen went, but he didn't like being answered back by a mere Third Class Apprentice. He drew himself up to his full height (which was only slightly more than his full width) and frowned so sternly that his Guildmark almost vanished between his bushy eyebrows. "Life isn't fair, Natsworthy," he boomed. "Any more cheek from you and you'll be on Gutduty as soon as this chase is over!"
Of all the horrible chores a Third Class Apprentice had to perform, Gutduty was the one Tom hated most. He quickly shut up, staring meekly down at the beautifully buffed toes of the Chief Curator's boots.
"You were told to work in this department until seven o'clock, and you will work until seven o'clock," Pomeroy went on. "Meanwhile, I shall consult the other curators about this dreadful, dreadful shaking. . . ."
He hurried off, still muttering. Tom watched him go, then picked up his gear and went miserably back to work. Usually he didn't mind cleaning, especially not in this gallery, with its amiable, moth-eaten animals and the blue whale smiling its big blue smile. If he grew bored, he simply took refuge in a daydream, in which he was a hero who rescued beautiful girls from air pirates, saved London from the Anti-Traction League, and lived happily ever after. But how could he daydream, with the rest of the city enjoying the first proper chase for ages?Mortal Engines. Copyright © by Philip Reeve. Reprinted by permission of HarperCollins Publishers, Inc. All rights reserved. Available now wherever books are sold.
Posted May 4, 2004
It's hard to put into words how good I think this book really is. I guess the best was to describe it is by saying the acknowledgements, in which Reeve said that the book may have ended up as 'neatly typed kindling' made me wince. This book is the perfect mix of anything and everything that makes a cool book: vivid and color world, incredible imagination, unforgettable characters, a heart pumping climax, unpredictablity, and originality, something that many books nowadays lack. I strongly recommend this book to anyone and everyone that wants to read an incredible book that has no plot holes and takes no shortcuts.
3 out of 3 people found this review helpful.Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
Posted October 26, 2012
Loved the book, on book two now. . .But whats with all the exclamation points? Really gets annoying, its like everyone is always yelling.
Im reading this after Hunger Games, Legend, Divergent and the Maze Runner, it falls right in the same line as being as entertaining and leaving you wanting more.
1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
Posted December 9, 2008
The Sixty Minute War ended western civilization leading to a new world order. The great cities do not reside in one place, but instead are mobile like Roman legions assaulting smaller locations. London has been reduced to one of these prowling giants, but recently concern has surfaced that with a lessening of prey among the midgets, other mega-metropolises will try to devour the big city. <P>As London chases after Salthook, fifteen years old apprentice historian Tom toils at what all rookies do. He cleans in his case the exhibits of the London Museum of Natural History. However, Tom¿s world changes when he rescues his hero, scavenger turned renowned archeologist Thaddeus Valentine from an assassination attempt. Tom¿s reward is apropos for an apprentice as he and the avenging assassin Hester Shaw are tossed out of the city into the vast wilderness. He learns from her why as she explains her connection to Valentine and the mayor. They team up to survive as Hester and Tom begin a series of adventures to stay alive. <P>Though classified as a children¿s fantasy, this complex tale can be enjoyed as a straightforward tale that young readers will appreciate or as a satire that adults will treasure. The characters are complex as Philip Reeve paints a picture that what is acceptable under certain conditions seems cruel under others as values are not quite as universal as we westerners would like to believe. MORTAL ENGINES is a winner for children and adults of all ages. <P>Harriet Klausner
1 out of 2 people found this review helpful.Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
Posted May 11, 2014
Amazing book from start to finish, read as part of a children's literature course, i am 45 and loved it and getting the rest of the series. You can really see where society has gone wrong and its faults and what things could even be like in the future. Its fantasy but has portrayals of realism running through it. Can't wait to read the next one and would strongly recommend :)Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
Posted January 17, 2013
Posted August 20, 2012
Amazing. Unlike every other book, where you know that the main characters will survive in the end, Mortal Engienes is much less predictable. Phillip Reeve's writing is suspenseful and thrilling, leaving readers wondering who will survive when everything is overWas this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
Posted November 30, 2011
Mortal Engines was a very enjoyable book. It took me a bit to get into the story, but it held my interest till the end.
I did have a slight problem with the matter of tense, though. It jumped back and forth from present to past tense, and although it was nicely separated by breaks, the whole concept of them seemed without a purpose. An exception is placing Grike's POV in present tense, as opposed to the past tense that most of the book is placed in, and this is because Grike is such a singular character, human and yet not human. It worked for me. But later on, other characters' POVs suddenly switched to present tense as well, without reason (at least it seemed to me to be without reason; I may just be oblivious). Rather than creating a special effect, the switching tense distracted me from the action and the immediacy of the story.
Also distracting was the use of "you." As in, "You wouldn't guess it, but . . . ." It really took me out. As with the repetition of words. I believe there was one passage that went something like "As the burning ship fell, people burning inside . . ."
It also seemed as though some of the drama and intense parts were very unnecessary . . . mainly just there to create drama and intensity. My main problem with this is the death of Bevis, who was a wonderful character (whom I wish was fleshed out more; more often than not, Reeve plants his characterization in people's perception of the character, instead of the audience getting to experience his quirks/flaws/personality themselves. But anyways, this review is getting lengthy as is, I'll drop this point for now). Why did Bevis have to die? I'm not sure I understand the purpose, other than to create needless drama that didn't change anything in the plot or any characters' decisions. It could be an easy out to kill him rather than find an ending for him after Katherine's death (which was VERY important and pivotal, and one I enjoyed . . . in a very non-sadistic way, of course).
Okay, I'm returning to characterization just briefly. Reeve's infatuation with writing about someone's beauty rubbed me the wrong way. I thought it was just Tom's flaw at first, him wondering if the assassin was beautiful as he was chasing her, his huge reaction towards Katherine's beauty, his equally large reaction to Hester's ugliness, and so forth. But this continued with other characters, and it bothered me after a while.
I realize I'm being very critical, because overall this book was very enjoyable to read and I'm going to run to the library tomorrow to check out the second. Reeve writing is overall nothing spectacular, but he does have some very glittering passages that tore into my heart. Especially the last bit. It helped me overall understand the story and it made it complete. It might actually be my favorite ending line I've ever read of any book:
"You aren't a hero, and I'm not beautiful, and we probably won't live happily ever after," she said. "But we're alive, and together, and we're going to be all right."
Beauty and perfection right there, at least to me. He had GLORIOUS passages like this that just made me shiver.
Posted May 12, 2011
Meet Tom and Hester who were recently ejected from the Mobile City London and are trying to get back on board. For Tom, London is the only life he knows. For Hester, she's obsess with getting revenge on Tom's idol, Valentine. As the story unfolds the concept of Municipal Darwinism (survival of the fittest city) is explained, Valentine's crime that left Hester disfigured is revealed, and London's secret weapon - MEDUSA- that not only threatens other Mobile Cities but people who are trying to rebuild a normal life that doesn't involve cannibalizing other cities, is unveiled. I couldn't make up my mind who I liked more, Tom or Hester. Persons reading this can identify with Tom's struggle to re-evaluate his beliefs in deciding what's good and bad after experiencing life from another perspective. Hester's mental walls gradually erode as emotions that were presume to disappear after Valentine scarred her come bubbling to the surface as she slowly takes a fancy to Tom. The supporting cast are brilliant like the charismatic public figure, Valentine, who habors a dark secret; the aviatrix, Anna Fang, who wants to stop Municipal Darwinism; the marauding pirate, Peavey, who wants to learn posh manners like a London Gentleman; or the soulless Stalker, Grike, who'll do anything to obtain his heart's desire. This was a great book with no slow parts. And as a bonus there were no Hollywood Celebs spewing racist or anti-semitic comments.Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
Posted May 22, 2009
Posted September 30, 2008
The world changed after the Sixty Minute War. North America was made inhabitable, cities were put on wheels, cities attacked each other, recycled each other, two leagues were formed, the Tractionist, the people who lived in cities, and the Anti-Tractionist who lived on the bear earth. London is finally coming out of the mountains to the Hunting Ground. It has been there for many generations, surviving only off of static settlements. On it lays a class three historian named Tom. Tom¿s parents were killed during the Great Tilt, when London tilted on its side and many people were crushed by falling objects, when Tom was a little boy. On the first suburb London caught on the Hunting Ground, Tom was looking for artifacts with his idle, also the lead historian, Valentine. After they were finished, Valentine and Tom went over to the refugees to see if they captured anyone important, but then a knife was drawn. The main thing I liked about the book was also the main thing I disliked about the book. The thing is, it¿s almost impossible to put down. Everything in it is exciting and interesting. If you were going to read it for ten minutes, you would end up reading it for twenty minutes, so you might not get your homework done in study hall. The only criticism I have on this book, is that you have to visualize almost all of the cities and vehicles, because if you look at the hardback cover you can see how they are indescribable. This book is one of four in The Hungry City Chronicles.Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
Posted May 30, 2008
Posted March 19, 2007
In the future of Traction Cities (huge cities piled up on huge caterpillar tracks) eating other Traction Cities, a boy named Tom lives on the first Traction City, London, as a Third Class Apprentice, a really bad position to be in, to a historian. It all begins the night that London caught a small salt mining city, Salthook, and destroyed it for its resources. That night Tom and his hero/role model Thaddeus Valentine went to the bottom of the city to see what London got then came a girl that tried to kill Valentine, later running deeper into the city. Tom funs after her and then the girl falls out of the city, and tom along with her. They end up in the Outcountry, a place ruined by traction cities and where the Anti-Traction League lives and that is when the adventure begins. I really liked the book a lot, for futuristic setting, the characters, the technology, the betrayal, and the creative ideas that Philip Reeve came up with. I didn¿t have too many dislikes, but I didn¿t like parts when it would get boring very little would it do it and if I would have been a tree lover I wouldn¿t have liked it. This book is part of the series ¿The Hungry Chronicles¿. Some similar books are Predators Gold, anything really futuristic.Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
Posted January 5, 2007
The future is something I always like to picture. Well in this book you don¿t have to picture the future. Mortal Engines takes place in the future, year of 2100. This book has mine boggling ideas about how the future is going to turn out. The author of this book is Philip Reeve and he is a well known author. His staggering ideas will fill you mine with amazement. I can¿t relate this book to anything but I can tell you if you like die hard excitement books, READ THIS!! This book is about this boy named Tom. Tom is an Apprentice Engineer for London, which is a traction city. Traction cities are cities of the future. They roll on huge wheels, just imagine your city on wheels going hundreds mph. Well Tom meets a man named Mr. Valentine and his daughter Katherine. Mr. Valentine was very famous for finding Medusa. Medusa is a huge gun that can destroy any traction city rolling. Mr. Valentine didn¿t find it he stole it from Hester mom, and killed both of there parents in the process. Hester got away with only a huge slash mark across her face. Hester is hunting down Valentine seeking revenge. Hester jumped down a shoot and Tom followed. Hester then explains to Tom what Valentine had done. Tom and Hester join forces against the evil Valentine. The quest begins for the search for the longevity hunt after Valentine.Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
Posted March 18, 2006
Don't read Mortal Engines if you are not a high level thinker, or reader! The plot is very involved and the book is very long. It is truely a great book, and Reeve keeps you hooked until the very end! I am not a hard core reader, but this book made me want to keep reading and never stop! This book is one of the best that I have ever read! I think that everyone should read this book! Also, read the next book, Predator's Gold. It picks up where Mortal Engines left off.Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
Posted February 24, 2006
It was an incredibly good read. I read it in two days and I loved everything about it. And the ending went perfectly with the book, and it was simply creative beyond my own imagination.Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
Posted October 25, 2005
It's not hard to explain exactly why I loved this book so much. The characters were believable, the setting was original and the plot was the best I've seen for a long time. The settings were exotic and almost, strangely, believable. To me it sent a strong message about human nature... and about the dangers of technology. It was bittersweet, memorable and one of the best book's I've ever read -- and i'm a very avid reader. This is one of those you have to read to believe - it's amazing. This book is simply briliant... the detail, the characters, and the lurking sense that this happens not so far away from our lives. The style of writing reminded me of Philip Pullman's His Dark Materials trilogy, and the book was bittersweet, memorable, and one of the best I've read, and I am a very avid reader. 5 stars!!Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
Posted July 1, 2005
This book is, to be quite honest, surreal. it has some interesting plot twists, and, a word of cution, dont become to attatched to any of the characters. this book is an amazingly well thought out imagenary world. the characters are all quite a bunch, and help play off of one another, as well as the setting. the two main characters, tom and hester, are about as different as night and day, yet they go together well. trust me, this book is not for the faint of heart. im used to blood, guts, and gore, but this was rediculus. if you are under the age of 13, i do not suggest a book like this. but if you enjoy a great group of characters and and amazing setting, as well as haveing a strong stomach, this is truly a wonderful book, and i would highly suggest it.Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
Posted June 20, 2004
Posted December 15, 2003
This book was one of the best books Ive read in a long time. I was so sad to see it end though. It wasn't a very happy ending but I guess in real life, not everything ends happily.
0 out of 1 people found this review helpful.Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
Posted June 4, 2010
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