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Hungry City Chronicles

Mortal Engines

Written By:Philip Reeve - 2001

  • Mortal Engines - Philip Reeve cover


  • Mortal Engines - Philip Reeve cover




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.


London is Hunting!

The great Traction City lumbers after a small town, eager to strip its prey of all assets and move on. In the not-so-distant future, mobile cities consume one another to survive, a practice known as Municipal Darwinism.

Tom, an apprentice in the Guild of Historians, saves his hero from a murder attempt by the mysterious Hester Shaw—only to find himself thrown from the city and stranded with Hester in the Out Country. As they struggle to follow the city, the sinister plans of London's leaders begin to untold...



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...


"Ask him!" she screamed.

"Ask him what he did to Hester Shaw!"

The police were closer now; Tom could feel their footsteps drumming on the deck. The girl glanced past him, then heaved her wounded leg over the handrail, crying out at the pain. "No!" pleaded Tom again, but too late. Her ragged overcoat snapped and fluttered, and she was gone. He flung himself forward and peered down the shadowed chute. A cool blast of air came up at him, mingled with the smell of mud and crushed vegetation: the smell of the speeding earth beneath the city.



"Superbly imagined." —The Times of London

"A fantastic read—as thrilling as it is morally challenging." —The Guardian

"A brilliant debut from an obviously gifted storyteller... A magnificent story and one of the most compelling I have read so far this year." —The Bookseller

"Philip Pullman fans will love this book. I didn't want it to end at all." —Daily Telegraph

"This book is utterly original... Reeve plunges us into a fascinating new world, rich in witty detail." —Glasgow Herald

Nestle Smarties Book Prize Gold Award

Whitbread Children's Book Award Shortlist

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.


"Brilliant. Offers new wonders at every turn." —Publishers Weekly (starred review)

"Exciting. Action-packed." —School Library Journal (starred review)

"Wildly imaginative. Full of marvelous details, humor, and grand adventures." —KLIATT (starred review)

ALA Notable Book

ALA Best Book for Young Adults

Nestle Smarties Book Prize Gold Medal

Whitbread Children's Book Award Shortlist

Washington Post Best Book




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