A Darkling Plain

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Philip Reeve
Mar 2006
The fourth and final book in the Mortal Engines series. Six months after the seismic events described in Infernal Devices, Tom and his daughter Wren are working the Bird Roads in their beloved airship, the Jenny Haniver. While Wren thrives, Tom secretly struggles with his weakened heart and his unresolved feelings for his wife Hester, who, in a supreme act of self-destruction, deserted her family and surrendered herself to the stalker Shrike. However, Tom gains a renewed sense of purpose when a serendipitous (or so it seems) series of events lead him full circle, back to the ruins of London. Meanwhile, the uneasy truce between the Traction Cities and the Green Storm proves dangerously vulnerable to exploitation.

I absolutely loved this book, having already relished the earlier titles in the series. Reeve�s exceptional fondness for his characters frees them to behave in complicated, inconsistent and often misguided ways, and the relationships between the characters are similarly complex (Hester and Shrike being the most poignant example). This is writing of much greater emotional subtlety and empathy than is suggested by the muscular �steampunk� setting. A Darkling Plain is not as unreservedly fast-paced as the earlier books; despite the dreadful thrill of the escalating hostilities between the Traction Cities and the Green Storm, the narrative is interspersed with strange little episodes of introspection, as the Stalker Fang explores her inimical dual personalities, and Tom contemplates his rapidly failing health. Moreover, the conclusion of the book is simply astonishing and alters the reader�s sense of everything that has gone before, through an extraordinary shift of perspective. I could go on�

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This page contains a single entry by Mai Lin Li published on March 20, 2006 1:15 PM.

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