Genre: science fiction
Length: 373 pages
Setting: a post-apocalyptic, barely recognizable future Asia
Summary: Short version: London’s attempts to gain power causes many deaths
Long version: Tom isn’t thrilled to be a third-class apprentice Historian in London. He does admire the Head Historian, Thaddeus Valentine. That’s why he chases down the person, Hester, who tries to kill Valentine in the gut of London. He’s also shocked when Valentine pushes him down the ventilation shaft and out of London because he saw Hester. Tom is now in the Out Country with Hester, watching London speed off into the Great Hunting Ground. They have many adventures trying to get back to London. Tom wants to get home and Hester wants to finish her attempt on Valentine’s life. In London, the Lord Mayor, who is also the Head Engineer, is about to reveal his secret weapon, created during the 60-Minute War. Medusa is an energy weapon he’s going to use to destroy the shield wall keeping all the mobile cities out of the anti-tractionist lands of the Himalayas. Hester, Tom, and several people in London have to work to stop Medusa from being deployed.
Final thoughts: I loved the setting of the book. Because of some conflict, cities have become mobile. They invented the idea of Municipal Darwinism – big cities eat smaller cities for the resources they possess. That works fine as long as there are lots of cities. Unfortunately, the creation of new cities doesn’t occur nearly as often as they are consumed. The book is set at a point where prey has become scare.
The plot was a bit more pedestrian. London wants to tip the balance of power in their favor by introducing an old weapon. They are going to open up new Hunting Grounds of non-mobile cities. In London, Valentine’s daughter is horrified by the potential slaughter to come. She works to stop the weapon. She succeeds, but not in the expected manner. In fact, I was quite surprised with the end. Nearly every named character, except for Tom and Hester, dies. Valentine sabotages the Shield Wall defenses, which led to the death of my favorite character, an airship pilot. Then, the destruction of Medusa results in the destruction of London. I wonder where the series goes next. The main characters are still alive, but their purpose in life is now gone with the destruction of London.
Title comes from: Not obvious. The Engines part of the title might come from the engines that drive the cities. The Mortal part might be because everybody dies
Reading challenges fulfilled: book #48 for 2019, and an R in my Author Reading the Alphabet Challenge
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