Eos, Oct 2003, 16.99, 320 pp.
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.
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. 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.
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.
This report prepared by Harriet Klausner