A Darkling Plain Paperback – May 4 2009
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From School Library Journal
Grade 7–10—The final installment in the series continues the clever premise and breakneck pace established by the first three volumes. This story begins six months after the action in Infernal Devices (HarperCollins, 2006). A tentative peace seems likely to end years of warfare between gigantic traction cities that grind across the landscape consuming everything in their paths and stationary communities that denounce their destruction of nature. Then dissenting members of both sides sabotage the truce, and Theo Ngoni, Wren Natsworthy, and Wren's parents are drawn into the resulting mayhem. To complicate matters further, the Stalker Fang, a terrifying amalgam of killer robot and human corpse, has survived her presumed destruction and is intent on eradicating all human life so that Earth can recover from human depredation. Separate, interweaving story lines follow the principal characters as they encounter dozens of others from the earlier books while traversing the former Europe and Asia at top speed by airship, sand ship, traction city, and predator suburb. While readers new to the series will enjoy the hairbreadth escapes, humor, and romance, they may get lost in the complicated politics of the Traktionstadtsgesellschaft, the Anti-Tractionist League, the Green Storm, townies, mossies, etc., making the book more satisfying for readers already familiar with the impressive future revealed in the previous books. With its popular appeal and increasingly relevant theme of global-environmental conflict, this is a worthy conclusion to a series that ranks among the best science fiction for young people in recent years.—Beth Wright, Fletcher Free Library, Burlington, VT
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
The fourth book in The Hungry City Chronicles, which began with Mortal Engines (2003), is a rousing wrap-up for the series. The Green Storm forces are struggling to establish new static settlements and reclaim farmland, but the voracious and now unified Traction Cities are determined to pursue Municipal Darwinism, with cities hunting towns and towns hunting villages. Meanwhile, the Stalker Fang, thought dead, but actually resurrected, has her own macabre plans to cleanse Earth of human beings. There is plenty of violence and intrigue involved in the exploits of the well-limned principal characters, building up to a humdinger of a finale that will rivet readers. Estes, Sally --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.See all Product Description
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Living in Alberta, Canada, British author Philip Reeve is not as well known, and so it was quite by accident that I discovered the first 2 books in the series: Mortal Engines and Predator's Gold. These 2 volumes, which very much remind me of the quality and craftsmanship of creating Star Wars and then The Empire Strikes Back, harken back the ideas of fantastic new worlds, innocence and discovery, high adventure, romance, tragedy and character resolution which unfailingly culminates in this last Darkling volume.
If you are familiar with this brilliant series, I wonder if I am alone when I honestly say that I was heartbroken with the direction Mr. Reeve took in the third volume, Infernal Devices. I did not want Tom and Hester to instantly jump into my own mid-thirties age bracket and thus becoming secondary characters to the supposedly young readers these books are aimed at. Although we grow to fondly care about their daughter and her friends, I felt a huge stab of pain (not unlike Tom) and loss at the sense that our original heroes were relegated to the back of the bus. I also share your grief and dissappointment that our dear friends Freya and Caul were allowed such an early retirement--Shame on you, Mr. Reeve.
Despite the third and leading-up-to volume, I will say that our intrepid storyteller redeems himself and restores our faith in his genious by his deliverance of this beautifully crafted and intricately laid fouth "chapter" of our long journey. I can't tell you how sorry I am that it is over for me, having just ordered and read this last novel directly from Scholastc U.K. Believe me, friend, you're in luck. Treat yourself to this book and the whole series, because like one of those rare vacations where you actually relax and enjoy yourself, and you are just a little sad to return home, this endeavor will simulate just that.
As a sidenote, I should mention that I was shocked to originally learn that these books were targeted towards 9 to 14 year-olds. Although there is no profanity or overt sexual descriptions, the brutality, gore, and death count has occassionally brought to mind certain other writers such as Stephen King and Robert McCammon--if these were derrived films, they would not get away with "PG-13" in North America. Also, if anyone else cares to write a review and knows, could you please explain why our everlasting father stalker "Grike" in N.A. is written as "Shrike" in the U.K.?
Read and enjoy, I think you shall also be inspired.
An uneasy peace has been formed between the Traction Cities and the Static Communities, ending years of conflict between the various factions of the Traktionstadtsgesellschaft (cities that adhere to the city-eat-city policies of Municipal Darwinism) and the Anti-Tractionist League (which includes the terrorist organization of the Green Storm). The truce has been secured mainly due to the efforts of Lady Oenone Naga, who disposed of the Green Storm's fanatical leader Anna Fang by programming the ancient Stalker Strike to destroy her. However, her actions have made her several enemies, and dissenting members of each side are determined to end the stalemate between townies and mossies through espionage, terrorism and assassination.
If you have yet to discover the steam-punk, sci-fi, post-apocalyptic world that Philip Reeve has created, then there's no use starting here. "A Darkling Plan" is the accumulation of the three previous books and their steady build-up of character and situation. Taking place six months after the explosive events of Infernal Devices Tom Natsworthy and his daughter Wren are living as aviators and traders when Tom recognizes a familiar face from his past: Clytie Potts who lived in his home city of London which was presumed to have been totally decimated years ago. Teaming up with a dashing but prejudiced young lord of a strange tunneling city, father and daughter cross the lines and sneak into enemy territory in order to investigate rumours of life in the destroyed remains of London.
Meanwhile, their estranged wife and mother Hester is traveling with Shrike as an assassin-for-hire, only to get caught up in events when she stumbles across the survivors of an attempt to sabotage the truce. With such a painful reminder of her duties to her family, Hester reluctantly throws herself into the ensuing battle.
Finally, the Stalker Anna Fang (not as dead as some might have hoped) makes a journey of her own along with Fishcake, one of the final Lost Boys who holds a grudge against Tom and Hester. Devoted to Anna, he follows her as she undertakes a secret mission into the mountains, carrying in her mind the coordinates of a satellite that orbits the planet and which has the capacity to destroy all life on earth. There are other plot-threads too, concerning familiar characters such as Theo Ngoni, Nimrod Pennyroyal, General Naga and Shrike (sadly Freya and Caul do not appear here and we learn nothing of them; although there are a couple of bittersweet moments that recall Katherine Valentine and Bevis Pod, way back from the first book).
Reeves weaves these storylines into a magnificent whole as the world veers dangerously close to a second apocalypse, and at twice the length of the first book, "A Darkling Plain" is certain a book to savour over several nights. As with the end of all long-term sagas, the ending came with a fair amount of satisfaction, bittersweetness and sadness that it was over; even though I know I can read it again, I'll never be able to read it again for the *first* time.
Possibly the most noteworthy aspect of Reeve's worldview is that there is no clear-cut good or evil in regards to the two opposing sides of the conflict. Rather, the Traction Cities and the Static Communities (or the "townies" and the "mossies" as they dismissively call each other) each have idealistic leaders, worthy opponents and dangerous fanatics. Just as the ideology of Municipal Darwinism is reminiscent of Western focus on materialism, consumerism and globalization, the otherwise peaceful Eastern Anti-Traction League have a discordant terrorist element in their midst that aren't above employing dubious tactics in order to destroy their enemies. There is no good or bad side to this war: only people with opposing world-views that refuse to compromise, in which bad situations are made worse by the greed and hatred of a powerful few.
It would be wrong to give too much away in terms of plot-lines and character development, as half the joy of this series is the element of discovery, as well as the unexpected twists that Reeves litters throughout (he is certainly not afraid of killing off major characters when the need arises). There are a few missed opportunities that I was disappointed that Reeves didn't take (there is no much-deserved reconciliation between mother and daughter), but I can say with a fair amount of confidence that once you read any book in this series, you will never forget it. It has the raw creativity and rich world-building that only the most consummate storytellers can create and sustain, and this series combines the very best of adventure, romance, suspense, character development, tragedy, pathos and sacrifice into an unforgettable reading experience.
series, but started to become disenchanted by the end
of book # 2. Book # 3 left me flat & I barely got through it.
I found myself weary of not just the excessive violence
and death toll, but the drama. there is so much fun that
could have been had is these stories. I just don't get
why so many character's stories ended sadly.
The over all gloom & doom does not make for an enjoyable
read. I felt duped into reading, hoping for more, but was
sorely disappointed. I scanned this book from the back to the middle
as I suspected that this book might be just as bleak as #3.
All the stories of all the main characters are brought to conclusion,
but all in all it is a pretty joyless ending.
I like my steampunk witty,fast paced ,with character growth &
more fun to it.
Shelley Adina's The Magnificent Devices Series is much better