"A breathtaking work of imagination, Hester Shaw is a heroine for the ages. The moment we finished reading [Mortal Engines] we knew we wanted to make it into a movie." -- Producer Peter Jackson
Philip Reeve's epic city-eat-city adventure series continues with Mortal Engines Book 3: Infernal Devices.
The mighty engines of Anchorage have been rusted and dead for years. The derelict city no longer roams the Ice Wastes, but has settled on the edge of the land that was once America. Tom Natsworthy and Hester Shaw are happy in the safety of a static settlement, but their daughter, Wren, is desperate for adventure. When a dangerously charming submarine pirate offers her a chance to escape, Wren doesn't think twice about leaving her home and her parents behind. But the pirate wants something in return -- Wren must steal the mysterious Tin Book. To do so will ignite a conflict that could tear the whole world apart.
Mortal Engines is now a major motion picture produced by Peter Jackson!
About the Author
Read an Excerpt
By Philip Reeve
HarperCollins Publishers, Inc.Copyright © 2006 Philip Reeve
All right reserved.
The Sleeper Wakes
At first there was nothing. Then came a spark, a sizzling sound that stirred frayed webs of dream and memory. And then -- with a crackle, a roar -- a blue-white rush of electricity was surging through him, bursting into the dry passages of his brain like the tide pouring back into a sea cave. His body jerked so taut that for a moment he was balanced only on his heels and the back of his armored skull. He screamed, and awoke to a sleet of static, and a falling feeling.
He remembered dying. He remembered a girl's scarred face gazing down at him as he lay in wet grass. She was someone important, someone he cared about more than any Stalker should care about anything, and there had been something he had wanted to tell her, but he couldn't. Now there was only the afterimage of her ruined face.
What was her name? His mouth remembered.
"H . . ."
"It's alive!" said a voice.
"Hes . . ."
"Again, please. Quickly."
"Charging . . ."
"Hester . . ."
And then another lash of electricity scoured away even those last strands of memory, and he knew only that he was the Stalker Grike. One of his eyes started to work again. He saw vague shapes moving through an ice storm of interference, and watched while theyslowly congealed into human figures, lit by flashlights against a sky full of scurrying moonlit clouds. It was raining steadily. Once-Borns, wearing goggles and uniforms and plastic capes, were gathering around his open grave. Some carried quartz-iodine lanterns; others tended machines with rows of glowing valves and gleaming dials. Cables from the machines trailed down into his body. He sensed that his steel skullpiece had been removed and that the top of his head was open, exposing the Stalker brain nested inside.
"Mr. Grike? Can you hear me?"
A very young woman was looking down at him. He had a faint, tantalizing memory of a girl, and wondered if this might be her. But no: there had been something broken about the face in his dreams, and this face was perfect: an Eastern face with high cheekbones and pale skin, the black eyes framed by heavy black spectacles. Her short hair had been dyed green. Beneath her transparent cape she wore a black uniform with winged skulls embroidered in silver thread on the high black collar.
She set a hand on the corroded metal of his chest and said, "Don't be afraid, Mr. Grike. I know this must be confusing for you. You've been dead for more than eighteen years."
"Dead," he said.
The young woman smiled. Her teeth were white and crooked, slightly too big for her small mouth. "Maybe 'dormant' is a better word. Old Stalkers never really die, Mr. Grike. . . ."
There was a rumbling sound, too rhythmic to be thunder. Pulses of orange light flickered on the clouds, throwing the crags that towered above Grike's resting-place into silhouette. Some of the soldiers looked up nervously. One said, "Snout guns. They have broken through the marsh forts. Their amphibious suburbs will be here within the hour."
The woman glanced over her shoulder and said, "Thank you, Captain," then turned her attention to Grike again, her hands working quickly inside his skull. "You were badly damaged and you shut down, but we are going to repair you. I am Dr. Oenone Zero of the Resurrection Corps."
"I don't remember anything," Grike told her.
"Your memory was damaged," she replied. "I cannot restore it. I'm sorry."
Anger and a sort of panic rose in him. He felt that this woman had stolen something from him, although he no longer knew what it had been. He tried to bare his claws, but he could not move. He might as well have been just an eye, lying there on the wet earth.
"Don't worry," Dr. Zero said. "Your past is not important. You will be working for the Green Storm now. You will soon have new memories."
In the sky behind her smiling face, something began to explode in silent smears of red and yellow light. One of the soldiers shouted, "They're coming! General Naga's division is counterattacking with Tumblers, but that won't hold them for long. . . ."
Dr. Zero nodded and scrambled up out of the grave, brushing mud from her hands. "We must move Mr. Grike out of here at once." She looked down at Grike again, smiled. "Don't worry, Mr. Grike. An airship is waiting for us. We are taking you to the central Stalker Works at Batmunkh Tsaka. We shall soon have you up and about again. . . ."
She stepped aside to let two bulky figures through. They were Stalkers, their armor stenciled with a green lightning-bolt symbol that Grike didn't recognize. They had blank steel faces like the blades of shovels, featureless except for narrow eye slits, which shone green as they heaved Grike out of the earth and laid him on a stretcher. The men with the machines hurried alongside as the silent Stalkers carried him down a track toward a fortified air caravanserai where ship after ship was lifting into the wet sky. Dr. Zero ran ahead, shouting, "Quickly! Quickly! Be careful! He's an antique."
The path grew steeper, and Grike understood the reason for her haste and her men's uneasiness. Through gaps in the crags he glimpsed a great body of water glittering under the steady flashes of gunfire. Upon the water, and far off across it on the flat, dark land, giant shapes were moving. By the light of the blazing airships that speckled the sky above them and the pale, slow-falling glare of parachute flares, he could see their armored tracks, their vast jaws, and tier upon tier of ironclad forts and gun emplacements.
Traction Cities. An army of them, grinding their way across the marshes. The sight of . . .
Excerpted from Infernal Devices 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.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
I'm feeling some frustration with this series. I should say first that Reeve's imaginative worldbuilding and fearless plotting and characterization are a joy; his books are gloriously unsentimental, and I put this book down thinking "damn: here is an author with the courage of his convictions." His characters are compelling but barely likeable.MILD SPOILERS FOLLOW.At the same time, I was hoping to see some growth. Hester is just as bitter, needy, and violent as she was fifteen years ago, and Tom has become, if anything, more vague and ineffectual. I'm not saying I needed to see Hester softened by love and motherhood, but she hasn't gained any wisdom with age, and it's hard to see her tear everything around her apart.When she thought to herself at the end of Predator's Gold that she was her father's daughter - evil, and violent - I'd hoped that she would, at least, use her brutality to protect her loved ones, and perhaps lay it aside some day. I'd also hoped that she was acknowledging her own darker urges, but not necessarily assuming it was the ultimate truth about herself. Now, I wonder.It's frustrating to spend time with characters who have so little wisdom and self-knowledge, and Tom's just as bad as Hester. If he could have half her resolution and unflinching powers of assessment, and if she could have half his tender-heartedness and empathy, we might get somewhere. It doesn't feel like they've grown up at all. Supporting characters are even more two-dimensional - Pennyroyal's back, and he and his wife Boo-Boo, etc. etc. are still silly and annoying. On the other hand, subplots around the Lost Boys and the Striker Fang have suspense and texture.Infernal Devices has a surprising and extreme ending - epic stuff, with more shattering cities and burning heavens but also equally extreme changes for Tom and Hester. As much as I feel like kicking them both, I am definitely pursuing them and their resilient Stalker foils into the next book.(N.B.: I felt very silly that I'd called Grike "Shrike" in my earlier review, but I see it depends on which edition you read, the European or American; isn't that odd?)
This is the third installment in a science fiction series (The Hungry City Chronicles) of which I have read no other books. It felt very sequelish: the heroes of the previous books have settled down and had a daughter who grows up with tales of their adventures back in the day. Said daughter then runs away and revisits old villains from said adventures. Despite the rather cliche set-up, it's a reasonably fast-paced book with fairly interesting characters. If I sound a little tepid, there's a reason. I couldn't really get into this book. But it may be due to my ignorance of the setting. I don't know what anti-tractionists believe, or what the Green Storm is trying to accomplish, or the significance of Stalker Grike. I also don't have any context for Hester Shaw's past sins, so such revelations meant nothing to me. The only real lasting impression I got of this book was how violent it is. People - even children - die graphically left and right. It was a little shocking to find in a book aimed at young adults. One thing I'll say for this book, however: the author knows how to keep his audience. While the main plot issue is resolved at the end, all kinds of loose ends and vague cliffhangers remain. I am curious what happens to Hester and Tom and Wren and Fishcake. However, I am not a very patient reader; I'll wait until the entire series is released before revisiting it, this time from the beginning.
This book is an ironic blend of Buck Rogers and Mad Max. Wren Natsworthy is a fifteen year old living in a world after the Sixty Minute War. The inhabitants of this world live in predatory cities that roam the earth on wheels or balloons. Wren, bored with her prosaic life, takes the first available opportunity to escape the constraints of her small town existence and proceeds to entangle her mother and father in a web of intrigue that she doesn¿t anticipate. This is the third book in The Hungry City Chronicles. The story line is at times pretty predictable, but the author¿s style is very tongue-in-cheek, which makes the facetious look at life entertaining. Readers will occasionally be amused by a satirical name of a place or person. While there aren¿t a lot of curricular tie-ins, unless one wants to delve deeply into the literary device of satire or the political overtones contained within the book, it is a fast, fun read. I find myself actually looking forward to the sequel.