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Predator's Gold: The Hungry City Chronicles    by Philip Reeve order for
Predator's Gold
by Philip Reeve
Order:  USA  Can
Eos, 2004 (2004)

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* * *   Reviewed by Hilary Williamson

I enjoyed Predator's Gold even more than the first in this series, Mortal Engines. In a post-apocalyptic world destroyed by technology, 'Traction Cities' have had to put themselves on wheeled, tiered platforms and lumber across continental Europe in an exercise of 'Municipal Darwinism'. In the first episode, London apprentice Historian Tom Natsworthy, and young scarred assassin Hester Shaw foiled Thaddeus Valentine's use of the fearsome 'Medusa' technology against the 'Anti-Traction League' that controls most of Asia. They barely survived London's destruction.

Now, they're adventurers who have their own airship, Anna Fang's Jenny Haniver, and trade in different continents. On Traction City Arkangel, they take on famed explorer Nimrod Bearegard Pennyroyal, who wants to get home to Brighton to get his next book written (he's already penned 'America the Beautiful: The Truth About the Dead Continent'). Though Tom is spellbound, Pennyroyal gives Hester headaches. Attacked by Murasaki Fox Spirits (piloted by Anti-Traction League 'Green Storm' fanatics) they crash land on Anchorage. Decimated by plague, it's led by young margravine Freya, the only survivor of its ruling family. Fleeing the jaws of Arkangel, Anchorage has set course for 'the Dead Continent'. Tom is glad to be back in a mobile city. Hester isn't and is jealous of Freya.

Anchorage hosts ghosts, 'Lost Boys' who have their own agenda and spy on the inhabitants, under the direction of 'Uncle Knows Best'. Arkangel hunts Anchorage. The Green Storm hunt the Jenny Haniver and its pilots. Freya believes that Pennyroyal's arrival is a sign from the gods. Tom is entranced by the amenities of an elegant city full of history, and blind to Hester's unhappiness. And Hester's misery leads her to a foolish, jealous act that endangers all of them. There are captures and escapes, betrayals and rescues, a thrilling town-hunt, and a new, scary 'Stalker'. Finally, Hester redeems herself by risking what she loves best. As this episode ends, the good guys set off into the sunset, aiming for 'the secret anchorages of the west' in 'old America' where I hope they'll have more thrilling adventures.

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