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Infernal Devices: The Hungry City Chronicles    by Philip Reeve order for
Infernal Devices
by Philip Reeve
Order:  USA  Can
Eos, 2006 (2006)

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* * *   Reviewed by Hilary Williamson

Infernal Devices follows Mortal Engines and Predator's Gold in The Hungry City Chronicles. The series is set in a post-apocalyptic world destroyed by technology, where Traction Cities lumber across continental Europe on wheeled, tiered platforms and fight each other for survival in Municipal Darwinism. In the first episode, apprentice Historian Tom Natsworthy and scarred Hester Shaw foiled a plot against the Asian Anti-Traction League. That won them their own airship, which they crash landed in the second episode on mobile city Anchorage. After more thrilling adventures, the city took refuge in Vineland, old America.

During their peaceful stay in Anchorage, Hester has been living a lie, having hidden from Tom and their neighbors her betrayal in Predator's Gold. Now, Tom and Hester have a fifteen-year-old daughter, Wren, who longs to see the outside world and share the kind of adventures her parents had. Hester and Wren are constantly at odds. When Lost Boys show up, seeking a Tin Book (holding old technology secrets) in Miss Freya's library, Wren helps them. Hester's intervention results in Wren being kidnapped, taken to sea, then trapped and enslaved with Lost Boy Fishcake by the floating, festive city of Brighton. The mayor of Brighton is her parents' old enemy, the vain (and lying) author Nimrod Pennyroyal.

The world outside Anchorage has long been at war, between the Green Storm under the leadership of Stalker Fang (once Anna Fang, who helped Tom and Hester) and the Traction Cities. Stalker Grike is revived by Dr. Oenone Zero of the Resurrection Corps (who has her own hidden agenda), with only faint memories of Hester. Of course, Tom and the ruthless Hester seek their daughter, only the former wholeheartedly. They also end up on Brighton, just before Green Storm forces attack, seeking the Tin Book. In the meantime, Wren - a true child of her parents who shares her father's compassion - has not been idle. She and handsome fellow slave Theo Ngoni (once a Green Storm fighter) seek to escape to Africa.

It all comes together in a cliffhanger of a conclusion, in which old enemies meet, old secrets are revealed, and the seeds of a terrible new danger for the world and its cities are sown - setting the stage perfectly for A Darkling Plain, the conclusion to this unique and imaginative fantasy series. (I'd advise you to start at the beginning as the episodes build on one another and are not easy to read stand-alone.)

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