Book Review: ‘Predator’s Gold’ by Philip Reeve

Author: Philip Reeve

Originally Published in 2003

Review by Miriam Atkinson

Predator’s Gold is the second book in Philip Reeve’s original Mortal Engines Quartet.

Set two years after Mortal Engines, the book starts with Tom and Hester living a peaceful life as traders aboard their airship Jenny Haniver until they are attacked by agents of the Green Storm. Needing to repair the airship, the young couple land on the ice city of Anchorage. What follows changes Tom and Hester’s lives forever – from encounters with author Nimrod Pennyroyal and Anchorage’s Margravine Freya, to a band of burglars from under the sea and the hunting city of Arkangel.

Predator’s Gold’s plot is full of action and fast-paced storylines all swirling around the core love story between Tom and Hester. Reeve ensures that all events and their consequences relate in some way to the pair’s relationship with each other but he does so in a way that feels natural – with each plot point leading logically to the next.

The primary location in the book is the two-tiered traction city, Anchorage. Whereas, in Mortal Engines, London was a heavy industrial city and a powerful threat in the Hunting Grounds, Anchorage is at the very end of its life. A near ghost town due to a plague, this setting in the frozen wastes gives the first half of Predator’s Gold an eerily ghost-like feel before the drama of the story’s climax.

All of the settings in the book are very distinctive from each other. In addition to Anchorage there is the murky underwater town of Grimsby and the fortified Green Storm miliary base to name just two. This variety is great from a reader’s perspective as it adds to the excitement of each chapter. The clear locations also add further dimensions to the overall world these stories are set in.

In terms of world building and the quartet of books itself, Predator’s Gold is incredibly important as it is here that many recurring elements to the series are first introduced. The eccentric character of Pennyroyal – a seemingly harmless author and explorer; the ruthless traction city hating Green Storm; and the fascinating underwater world of the Lost Boys of Grimsby all debut in this novel. While I loved reading this story for the first time it was also exciting to reread it after I’d finished the series and find all the details that would go onto to have major significance in the quartet.

Whereas Mortal Engines focused on bringing Tom and Hester together, Predator’s Gold explores how the pair cope when they are apart. Showcasing their two different personalities, Tom tries to think his way out of situations and relies on negotiation as his first defence. Hester is a person of action and this novel shows how she is often prone to rash decisions as she acts on instinct and impulses. The characters balance each other out and prove to be stronger together – however much of the story focuses on the uncertainty of their reunion and the potential consequences of their separation.

Predator’s Gold is a worthy sequel with its fair share of drama and adventure. Reeve’s character building and world building continues to be excellent in this book. There are also a couple of particular twists that make me wish that every time I read this book it could be the very first time so I don’t know the surprise that is coming.

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