Mortal Engines (Mortal Engines Series #1)

Mortal Engines (Mortal Engines Series #1)

by Philip Reeve


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The epic city-eat-city adventure is now a major motion picture produced by Peter Jackson!

"A breathtaking work of imagination, Hester Shaw is a heroine for the ages. The moment we finished reading this book we knew we wanted to make it into a movie." — Producer Peter Jackson

* "Reeve's [Mortal Engines] remains a landmark of visionary imagination." — School Library Journal, starred review

Now a major motion picture produced by Peter Jackson!

London is hunting again. Emerging from its hiding place in the hills, the great Traction City is chasing a terrified little town across the wastelands. Soon London will feed.

In the attack, Tom Natsworthy is flung from the speeding city with a murderous scar-faced girl. They must run for their lives through the wreckage — and face a terrifying new weapon that threatens the future of the world.

Beloved storyteller Philip Reeve creates a brilliant new world in the Mortal Engines series, called "phenomenal... violent and romantic, action-packed and contemplative, funny and frightening" by the Sunday Times.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781338201123
Publisher: Scholastic, Inc.
Publication date: 05/30/2017
Series: Mortal Engines Series , #1
Edition description: Reprint
Pages: 320
Sales rank: 6,765
Product dimensions: 5.20(w) x 7.90(h) x 0.80(d)
Age Range: 12 - 17 Years

About the Author

Philip Reeve is the bestselling author of the Mortal Engines quartet, which is now a major motion picture, and the award-winning Fever Crumb series. His other books include the highly acclaimed Here Lies Arthur and No Such Thing As Dragons. He lives in England with his wife and son. Visit him online at

Read an Excerpt

Mortal Engines

Chapter One

The Hunting Ground

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.

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Mortal Engines (Turtleback School & Library Binding Edition) 4.5 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 62 reviews.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
If you like simple, exciting, short reads look no further. Reeve weaves a satisfying adventure with less words than you'd typically expect for a world with so much going on.
Guest More than 1 year ago
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.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This is a great book
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
If you like science fiction then this series is a great read for a quick fix. I highly recommend it!!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
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.
Anonymous 17 days ago
StewartFHoffman 11 months ago
So, I saw the movie Mortal Engines back in December, and I hated it! Worst film of 2018 in my opinion. It did, however, present a few interesting concepts (towns and cities on wheels hunting each other!), so I bought the first book in Philip Reeve’s series. The difference? Night and day! I loved the book! It’s a fast, entertaining read with a terrific ending. The structure of the story made more sense to me, and the concept of Municipal Darwinism is explored in more detail. I know a movie has less space to explore and build than a book, but the adaptation takes weird, illogical turns away from the source material. If you haven’t read the book, but saw and hated the film as I did – buy the first book. Heck, If you saw the movie and loved it, buy the book. Just buy this book! I’m going to explore the other three novels in this series now, and if the quality storytelling continues, I’ll check out the prequel series too!
Anonymous 12 months ago
I enjoy most easy to read post apocalyptic stories. This one with a little more of a near future reality possibly wrapped in as well. Enjoyed it and am moving over to the next one.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
It has lots action guns, explosions , characters are fun very different than the movie it's definitely worth the read.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I really enjoyed this book, and it kept my attention throughout the whole story. I am looking forward to reading the rest of this series as well as the prequel series! My only regret is that I am sure I have ruined the movie for myself....
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Well steampunk fans will love this one, (as well as non steampunkers) Good read. Wanted to read the book before the movie comes out to see if "the book was/is better" than the movie. One point (spoiler here) I would have loved to see/read what would have happen if London broke through the wall/shield why have an as always happy ending when the series goes on for 2 more books; running down a few more cities would have been exciting plus a war with the wall would have been very eventful in telling. On the plus side, I loved the game of thrones character come abouts, where some do not get shot/blown up/ fall 90 stories/ etc. and miraculously survive even though I loved some of the fine characters and hated them being no more, it made for a better read.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Well steampunk fans will love this one, (as well as non steampunkers) Good read. Wanted to read the book before the movie comes out to see if "the book was/is better" than the movie. One point (spoiler here) I would have loved to see/read what would have happen if London broke through the wall/shield why have an as always happy ending when the series goes on for 2 more books; running down a few more cities would have been exciting plus a war with the wall would have been very eventful in telling. On the plus side, I loved the game of thrones character come abouts, where some do not get shot/blown up/ fall 90 stories/ etc. and miraculously survive even though I loved some of the fine characters and hated them being no more, it made for a better read.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Well steampunk fans will love this one, (as well as non steampunkers) Good read. Wanted to read the book before the movie comes out to see if "the book was/is better" than the movie. One point (spoiler here) I would have loved to see/read what would have happen if London broke through the wall/shield why have an as always happy ending when the series goes on for 2 more books; running down a few more cities would have been exciting plus a war with the wall would have been very eventful in telling. On the plus side, I loved the game of thrones character come abouts, where some do not get shot/blown up/ fall 90 stories/ etc. and miraculously survive even though I loved some of the fine characters and hated them being no more, it made for a better read.
MyopicBookworm on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
The setting of this book is a wonderful effort of the imagination: the cities of the future have taken to trundling about on giant rollers, hunting each other for booty and scrap metal. London is a somewhat regimented society with a stratified culture and a technical elite. The more-than-slight hint of Philip Pullman's His Dark Materials is perhaps almost an inevitable result of the similarity in genre: young-adult writers must find it hard to avoid having two adolescent protagonists, male and female, and the airship is a staple of steampunk fiction. The presence of a morally ambiguous, globe-trotting adult hero-figure is perhaps a more direct resemblance. I thoroughly enjoyed the book, both for the setting and the racy adventure plot. MB 14-viii-2009
fyrefly98 on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Summary: It's been eons since the Ancients destroyed themselves in the Sixty Minutes' War, and centuries since the first invention of mobile cities. Now London roams the landscape, looking for smaller cities to capture and consume in accordance with the principles of Municipal Darwinism. Tom Natsworthy is an ordinary Third Class Apprentice Historian, but he dreams of adventure. So when he saves the life of his hero, the explorer Thaddeus Valentine, from an assassin, he's more than a little surprised to find himself rewarded by being ejected from the city into the barren wastes of the Outland. Now he's forced to work with the would-be assassin, Hester Shaw, in order to survive, and he has to come to grips with the fact that life in London is not as rosy as he's always believed it to be. Inside the city, a similar realization is being reached by Katherine, Valentine's daughter, as she discovers the a secret her father's been keeping, a secret that could change the fate of London - and the world - forever... unless Tom, Hester, and Katherine can stop it.Review: Most steampunk that I've read thus far has been alternate history, so it was really neat to see a steampunk take on post-apocalyptic dystopia. The worldbuilding is absolutely the best part of Mortal Engines - it's original, imaginative, and full of clever details and subtle in-jokes. It was also surprisingly dark; the very idea of the Sixty Minutes' War wiping out civilization as we know it is horrifying in its plausibility, and Reeve does not shy away from real costs of heroics, nor does he stint on the body count just because it's a kids' book. My main problem with this book was that it skewed a little bit young for my tastes. Tom is fifteen, but the writing level is substantially younger, geared more towards the 11-12 year old set. The story moves quickly from adventure to adventure, with lots of big exciting action set pieces, but not a whole lot of character development. (The exception was Katherine; her disillusionment with her father felt a lot more real and meaningful than Tom's disillusionment with his hero.) The prose style - in addition to having the mid-grade novel's pitfall of every character's internal monologue being overly punctuated with exclamation points - was also a little weird. Specifically, the sections from the good guys' p.o.v. was in standard past tense, but the bad guys' p.o.v.s were in present tense, which in addition to being a bizarre stylistic choice, gave the distracting impression that the alternating sections weren't happening at the same time. I initially got interested in this book because of the idea of "Municipal Darwinism". Social Darwinism (i.e. the society that can kill the other societies is the best) is scientifically flawed and a misapplication of Darwin's ideas, and it sets my teeth on edge whenever it gets used as a justification (i.e. for colonialism and empire-building). That said, I liked the idea of turning cities into independent actors, and actually letting them go through natural selection. As it turns out, Reeve isn't a big fan of social Darwinism either, but he goes after it on moral grounds, rather than scientific ones, which is what I was hoping to see. Nevertheless, this was a quick read, with an interesting world and plenty of action. 3.5 out of 5 stars.Recommendation: A little young for me, but folks who enjoy more mid-grade fantasy/sci-fi than I do should have no problems with it. Mortal Engines would make an interesting counterpoint to all of the "one person vs. the establishment" dystopias (a la The Hunger Games) that have come out recently, especially since the establishment is an actual moving city. Recommended for dystopia and action-adventure fans in the 11-15ish age bracket of both sexes.
papersister on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
This was a great adventure book with interesting characters and an amazing ending. Some of the turning points in the book happened a little fast but overall it was a fun adventure. Tom and Hester make for a great pair, and I look forward to reading more of their adventures in the future. I could say the same for all the characters except that most of them didn't make it to the end of the book. This is definitely a universe that I would love to read more about.
iftyzaidi on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
A fast-paced adventure that reads like it was based on some long-lost Miyazaki anime movie script. Surprisingly gory for kids, but highly recommended 'steampunk' set in an age of municipal darwinism!
jaygheiser on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Gripping kid's novel that takes place in a future in which cities have gone mobile, hunting each other down and scavenging their resources.
TheDivineOomba on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
What a wonderful book! It has this steampunk feel set in the future. The reason the cities move is document, the characters smart. Theres a few cliched and shallow type characters, mainly the mayor and in Valentine, but its a kids book. If the characters were any more complex, It wouldn't appeal to the age group. It also has an interesting message that is not heavy handed or taken lightly. It also creates a character who does heroic things, but is not a hero. I also like that there were other non-western nations involved, or at least mentioned. Its a well written story that reminds me a bit of Howl's Moving Castle.
AHS-Wolfy on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
The city of London is on the move and has returned to the Great Hunting Ground but has intentions of a greater sort than just fighting it out in a game of Municipal Darwinism where city eats city and only the mighty survive. Thanks to the resurrection of some old-tech, the Lord Mayor along with his engineers have their sights firmly set on a new untouched hunting ground in Shan Guo but first they must get past the Shield Wall.A young assassin attempts to take the life of the discoverer of the old-tech but is foiled by an apprentice who soon discovers this may not have been his wisest move. He finds himself pushed down the same waste chute that the girl assassin threw herself down to avoid capture and they end up together in Out-Country. Part of the story revolves around this pair as they strive to get back to London to find out what's going on while another strand of the narrative follows the daughter of the intended victim of assassination as she attempts to uncover the reason behind the attempt and why that girl wanted her father dead.It all comes together in a thrilling climax when London reaches the Shield-Wall and we find out who will prevail in this adventure which combines post-apocalyptic young-adult fiction with elements of steampunk to produce a fast-paced enjoyable read. 3½¿'s
klarusu on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
This is an innovative and well-written young adult book, set in an original alternate future where there is no electronic technology and the world is based on mechanical instruments and machines. The reader is led to believe that this is our world after a cataclysmic war or event. A wonderfully original civilisation has evolved where vast, mechanical traction cities prowl the land and static settlements are rare and endangered. The future's here and the future's mobile. The world is based on the priniciples of Municipal Darwinism - throughout the Hunting Grounds, larger predatory cities prowl, swallowing up unwary smaller conurbations, cheered on by their population from viewing decks as their great jaws entrap and dismantle their unfortunate prey.All is not tranquil and compliant in this world, however. The all-reaching tenets of Municipal Darwinism are not welcomed with open arms and the revolutionary Anti-Traction League, from their base in the static cities of the East, wage a war of underground resistance and subterfuge, fighting to destroy the evil exemplified by the traction cities. It is in front of this backdrop that the reader is taken on a great adventure, filled with action and treachery, as Tom Natsworthy, a young apprentice historian from the great traction city of London and the scarred and damaged Hester Shaw, a city-less loner on a quest for revenge, are thrown together by circumstance and necessity.This is a great book. Reeve quickly draws the reader into a world of intrigue, of revolutionary plots and diabolical schemes, of treachery, adventure and bravery. He skilfully creates a world that is both familiar and alien, futuristic yet archaic. You will be disturbed by the eerie stalkers, the Resurrected Men. You will be inspired by the magic of Airhaven. It is an evocative novel, like Indiana Jones in another age, with archaeological finds pieces of our modern world. Reeve mixes cultures in a way that is reminiscent of Blade Runner or William Gibson. The traction cities are living characters themselves. What sets this apart, to a degree, from other young adult books is not just this vibrant world but the fact that Hester Shaw is more of an anti-heroine. She is self-serving, without empathy, controlling to the point of treachery and utterly dishonest as long as it achieves her goal. She is a damaged child and her history makes her quite ruthless. I would certainly recommend the whole series (this is the first of four books) for younger readers and adults who haven't lost the ability to be absorbed by the magic of an almost tangible future world, strange and beautiful, alien and exciting, a world that captures the imagination. It's the kind of book I would have loved to have had read aloud to me as a child and that would have absorbed me as a teenager.
twonickels on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
This was a re-read, because I recently realized that I hadn't ever read the rest of the series. Planning to change that - I absolutely love this book.
Gary10 on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Science fiction story of a future in which cities are mobile and gobbel each other up like carnivorous animals. Veyr original story and a real page-turner to boot. Marvelous read.
StephanieWA on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
The setting created by Philip Reeve for this novel is complex and believable, as are the characters we are introduced. The pace of the story is quick, changing from the action on and off the city of London to that of the different characters. There is quite a bit of violence in this story, but none of it is gratuitous.
mmillet on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
In the future, municipal Darwinism is King. After massive world-wide destruction, cities and towns have become mobile structures lumbering across continents 'eating' each other in a race to acquire more materials, fuel, and even slaves. Young Tom Natsworthy was born and bred in the traction city of London and even if he is only a third class apprentice in the Guild of Historians and an orphan, he's content to be a part of that great city - a pinnacle of progress. While on assignment, Tom can't believe his luck when he finally meets his hero, Mr. Valentine, the brave archeologist and darling of London - and his beautiful daughter Katherine. But after witnessing something he shouldn't have, he finds himself lost in the rugged Out-Country, desperate to find a way back to London and joined by the scarred Hester Shaw, a young girl bent on revenge and delightfully flawed. As Tom and Hester race across the desolate landscape after the mobile London, they face death at every turn as they stumble across pirates, slavers, and even the resistance movement, the Anti-Tractionist League.Every so often I stumble across a little-known book that really hits a high note. I should have known Mortal Engines would have been a Sure Thing knowing it was 1. a dystopian book and 2. chock full of compelling characters, but be warned: this book will pull you in faster than you can say "anti-Tractionist League." Truly engrossing, the non-stop action of Tom and Hester's journey left me stunned. The whole idea that after massive world destruction, technology has evolved to allow entire civilizations to become mobile is fascinating. Throw in a very active resistance movement and the fact that Philip Reeve presents compelling arguments for each side without ever forcing an opinion on his readers and you've got yourself some compelling reading.Staggering world building aside, characters are what make this book a stand-out. And I don't just mean the main characters; Mortal Engines boasts a superb supporting cast. The red-clad pilot Anna Fang: charming and kind but who would like nothing better than to see the end of mobile cities. The power hungry pirate Chrystler Peavey who only keeps Tom alive in hopes of turning his crew into 'proper gentlemen.' Not to mention Hester Shaw - whose scarred face and thirst for revenge has her wary of any overture of friendship. Be warned, as meticulous Philip Reeve is with crafting his characters, he doesn't think twice about killing them off. Several times, I would re-read passages thinking "did he really just do it again??! NOOO!!" But that's okay, I'm planning on returning to The Hungry City Chronicles just to find out what unique individual he's planning on introducing me to next.