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 philip-reeve.com.
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By Philip Reeve Eos Copyright © 2006 Philip Reeve
All right reserved.
Chapter One Frozen North
Freya awoke early and lay for a while in the dark, feeling her city shiver and sway beneath her as its powerful engines sent it skimming across the ice. Sleepily, she waited for her servants to come and help her out of bed. It took her a few moments to remember that they were all dead.
She threw off the covers, lit the argon lamps, and waded through dusty mounds of cast-off clothes to her bathroom. For several weeks now she had been working up the courage to have a shower, but once again this morning the complicated controls in the shower stall defeated her: She couldn't make the water come hot. In the end she just filled the handbasin as usual and splashed her face and neck. There was a sliver of soap left, and she rubbed some into her hair and plunged her head under the water. Her bath-servants would have used shampoo, lotions, salves, conditioners, all sorts of pleasant-smelling balms; but they were all dead, and the rack upon rack of bottles in the walk-in bathroom cabinet intimidated Freya. Faced with so much choice, she chose to use nothing.
At least she had worked out how to dress herself. She picked one of her crumpled gowns from the floor, laid it on the bed, and burrowed into it from the bottom, struggling about inside until she got her arms and head out through the right holes. The long, fur-trimmed waistcoat that went over the gown was much easier to put on, but she had a lot of trouble with the buttons. Her handmaidens had always done up her buttons very quickly and easily, talking and laughing about the day ahead and never, ever getting a button through the wrong hole; but they were all dead.
Freya cursed and tugged and fumbled for fifteen minutes, then studied the results in her cobwebby mirror. Not bad, she thought, all things considered. Perhaps some jewelry would make it look better. But when she went to her jewelry room, she found most of the good pieces gone. Things were always vanishing these days. Freya could not imagine where they went to. Anyway, she didn't really need a tiara on her sticky, soap-washed hair, or a necklet of amber and gold around her grubby throat. Mama would not approve of her being seen without jewelry, of course, but Mama was dead too.
In the empty, silent corridors of her palace, the dust lay thick as powder snow. She rang for a footman and stood staring out of a window while she waited for him to arrive. Outside, dim Arctic twilight shone gray on the frosted rooftops of her city. The floor trembled to the beat of cogs and pistons down in the engine district, but there was very little sense of movement, for this was the High Ice, north of north, and there were no passing landmarks, only a white plain, shining slightly with the reflection of the sky.
Her footman arrived, patting his powdered wig straight.
"Good morning, Smew," she said.
"Good morning, Your Radiance."
For a moment she was seized by an urge to ask Smew into her quarters and tell him to do something about all the dust, the fallen clothes, the lost jewelry; to make him show her how the shower worked. But he was a man, and it would be an unthinkable break with tradition for a man to enter the margravine"s private quarters. Instead she said what she said every morning: "You may escort me to the breakfast room, Smew."
Riding with him in the elevator to the lower floor, she imagined her city scuttling across the ice cap like a tiny black beetle creeping over a huge white plate. The question was, Where was it going? That was what Smew wanted to know; you could see it in his face, in the way his gaze kept flicking inquisitively at her. The Steering Committee would want to know too. Running this way and that from hungry predators was one thing, but the time had come for Freya to decide what her city's future was to be. For thousands of years the people of Anchorage had looked to the House of Rasmussen to make such decisions. The Rasmussen women were special, after all. Had they not ruled Anchorage ever since the Sixty Minute War? Did not the Ice Gods speak to them in their dreams, telling them where the city should go if it was to find good trading partners and avoid trap-ice and predators?
But Freya was the last of her line, and the Ice Gods did not speak to her. Hardly anybody spoke to her now, and when they did, it was only to inquire, in the politest possible way, when she would decide upon a course. Why ask me? she wanted to shout at them. I'm just a girl! I didn't want to be margravine! But there was no one else left for them to ask.
At least this morning Freya would have an answer for them. She just wasn't sure that they would like it.
She ate breakfast alone, in a high-backed black chair at a long black table. The clatter of her knife against her plate, her spoon in her teacup, seemed unbearably loud in the silence. From the shadowy walls, portraits of her divine ancestors gazed down at her, looking slightly impatient, as though they too were waiting for her to decide upon a destination.
"Don't worry," she told them. "I've made my mind up."
When breakfast was finished, her chamberlain came in.
"Good morning, Smew."
"Good morning, Light of the Ice Fields. The Steering Committee awaits Your Radiance's pleasure."
Freya nodded, and the chamberlain swung open the breakfast-room doors to let the committee enter. There used to be twenty-three of them; now there were only Mr. Scabious and Miss Pye ...
Excerpted from Predator's Gold by Philip Reeve Copyright © 2006 by Philip Reeve. Excerpted by permission.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews
In every other book I've read, its pretty much a given that the main character/s is going to survive. Not in this series. I'm on the edge of my seat with worry, just hoping that the characters will all still be alive by the time I reach the last page. New readers beware: Phillip Reeve has no qualms about killing off the main characters.
This book was so perfect, it has everything I ever wanted in a book:adventure, a little romance, and fantasy. I couldn't belive how great a book I'd found, till i started reading it.Everyone should read this book. But please read the first book,Mortal Engines, or this sequel will make no sense.
Predator's Gold picks up two years where Mortal Engines left off, with Tom And Hester having "sort of inherited" Anna Fang's airship the Jenny Haniver, making a living for themselves as cargo traders. The novel opens in the flying city of Airhaven, as Tom and Hester take on the famed adventurer Professor Nimrod Pennyroyal as a passenger - before being chased into the Arctic by agents of the Green Storm, a splinter group of the Anti-Traction League attempting to recover the Jenny Haniver. They escape their pursuers but are left damaged, wounded and limping, eventually finding safe haven in the small Traction City of Anchorage. Decimated by plague and desperate to survive, Anchorage has set a course for America, the Dead Continent. The city's young margravine Freya is delighted to find Pennyroyal aboard her city, as he had previously boasted about discovering fresh tracts of green land in nuclear-devastated North America in one of his best-selling books. Pennyroyal (a character who owes much to J.K. Rowling's Gilderoy Lockhart) uneasily accepts a position as the city's chief navigator, and with the Jenny undergoing extensive repairs, Tom and Hester find themselves swept up in a new adventure.Predator's Gold takes the action of Mortal Engines to the polar icefields, and Reeve continues the creative flair he showed in his first novel; the pages abound with mercenaries and pirate lairs and horrible scientific experiments and a secret city of thieves and betrayals and deceptions and daring rescues and frantic battles. As I have said before, these books are the very definition of swashbuckling; and yet so much more than that, because of their literary merit and excellent characterisation and, most of all, Reeve's sterling ability to paint a visual picture with words. It really is the best of both worlds.Predator's Gold is slightly less epic than Mortal Engines, with less at stake and not as much globe-trotting, but the character's story arcs - and the development of the overall series plot - are much deeper. A love triangle develops with Freya, and Hester's jealous actions greatly alter the results of their lives. Reading this series for the second time (and knowing that the next book jumps a good seventeen years or so into the future) it's impressive to note just how much of what happens later is a direct consequence of earlier actions. This sounds like a self-evident observation - that is, of course, how real life works - but it's a refreshing change from so much YA fiction and hack fantasy, where the story is told through a series of coincidences and random happenings and deus ex machina. Tom and Hester's lives are irrevocably altered by only a handful of things - some of them big, some of them small, some of them their fault, some of them beyond their control. As one example, Hester and Tom's "inheritance" of the Jenny Haniver in Mortal Engines - an act which seemed to exist merely to service the climax of that novel - has significant repercussions in Predator's Gold.The character development is also excellent. Tom mostly remains a cardboard cut-out, the everyman swept up in wild adventures, but Hester is a fine creation, an ugly gargoyle serving as the linchpin of the series. In Mortal Engines she was merely a genre-subverting ugly heroine, rugged and capable and driven by a single-minded urge. Predator's Gold develops her, believably and consistently, into a ruthless character capable of terrible violence. This begins with the chapter ominously titled "The Knife Drawer" and continues down darker paths in the next two books.Tom touched her mouth. "I know it feels awful, those men you had to kill. I still feel guilty about killing Shrike, and Pewsey and Gench. But you had to do it. You had no choice.""Yes," she said, and smiled at how un-alike they were, because when she thought of the deaths of [spoilers], she felt no guilt at all, just a sort of satisfaction, and a glad amazement that she had got away with it.Here Hester
If anything, even faster paced than the first! A galloping plot which manages to fit in a city destroying plague, an underwater city, a gang of thieves, big brother surveillance, the Furthest North, a character far too much like Lockhart, Love!, Betrayal!, self discovery, the excesses people will go to when they don't want to lose a loved one who has died, spider machines, bird machines... OK, in many ways it is nearly a parody of Young Adult fiction, but you can't help love the brave, fierce characters and it is almost impossible to put down as you desperately wonder how they can get out of the situation they have found themselves in...
Was a great continuation to the series. Kept a good pace all through it with excitement and twists. I stopped with this book though since the next book doesnt continue with the same characters but their child instead, kind of dissapointed me, but this one ended well enough to beable to stop.