(Originally published June 29, 2009)
There are few better feelings in the world than the discovery that a much-beloved book is part of a larger series. After posting my last commentary, I learned that “Mortal Engines” is in fact the first book of a quartet (the Hungry City Chronicles)…and I promptly proceeded to check out the next three books from my library that very evening. This afternoon, I read book 2 of the series, “Predator’s Gold” in one sitting. I can now say with conviction that these books are as good or better than “Harry Potter” and shouldn’t be overlooked by any fan of science fiction or fantasy.
“Predator’s Gold” takes place two years after “Mortal Engines.” In the wake of the destruction of their home city, young historian Tom Natsworthy and disfigured aviatrix Hester Shaw travel the world in their airship, cruising throughout the wastelands of the frozen north. They encounter the ghostly city of Anchorage as it trundles across the ice in the hopes of returning to America, the Dead Continent. But the predatory ice-traveling metropolis of Arkangel is close at hand, just waiting to engulf Anchorage and enslave its people.
A myriad of new factions come into play in “Predator’s Gold.” There are the agents of the Green Storm – grim airship pilots bent on destroying all the world’s mobile cities and ending the tyranny of Municipal Darwinism. There are the Lost Boys – thievish brigands who operate from a sunken underwater city beneath the ice. There are the Hunters of Arkangel – marauding commandos who perform hit-and-run attacks on helpless cities. And there are the people of Anchorage – nostalgic denizens of a once-great city now nearly reduced to rubble.
The beautifully conceived locales evoke comparison to Philip Pullman’s controversial “His Dark Materials” trilogy. Fortunately, the subversive anti-God message is entirely absent from the Hungry City Chronicles. Rather, the prevailing themes include courage, forgiveness, sacrifice, duty, and redemption. At this point in the series, it’s a little too early to start analyzing worldview elements…but if anything comes up in books 3 and 4, I’ll be sure to mention it.
It’s been a very, very long time since I’ve enjoyed a series as much as I’m enjoying this one. It’s the kind of enjoyment where your fingers tingle as you pick up the next installment in the series, not knowing where the author will take your favorite characters. I felt this way about the Harry Potter books, the Inheritance Trilogy, the Books of Ember, the Dresden Files, and the Genesis of Shannara series…just a tiny fraction of the huge number of books I’ve read in the last few years.
Don’t miss this series.
A worthy sequel to “Mortal Engines.” Highly recommended.