Tom and Hester are both back, now piloting the Jenny Hanivor, Anna Fang’s old airship. They end up on the city of Anchorage, a fading beauty, peacefully traveling the Arctic ice, unarmed, in a state of genteel decay. They meet Freya, the last in a long line of rulers, the city’s Magravene, who soon becomes attracted to the low-born Tom. Consumed with jealousy, the disfigured Hester runs off with the Jenny Hanivor and sells the location of Anchorage to Arkangel, a predator city bent on consuming everyone else. Along the way, the Lost Boys, a group of thieves sneak aboard Anchorage and begin stealing its wealth, and Professor Pennyroyal convinces Freya that she should turn her city towards America where she’ll find green valleys hidden in the wastelands.
Predator’s Gold should please fans of the first novel, though it is not as tightly written and therefore not as exciting. So many competing forces are introduced in Predator’s Gold that it becomes difficult to sort them out. The character development that marked the first book is not as present here, in part because there are so many more characters to keep developed this time around. I imagine some of them, like the Green Storm for instance, are mentioned here because they will play a larger role in the third volume, Infernal Devices. Plot wise, Predator’s Gold suffers the second volume blues a bit. But, readers should remember that no one ever lists The Two Towers as their favorite Tolkien.
So, I’m not giving Predator’s Gold my highest recommendation, but I will be reading volume three just to see what finally happens. Tom and Hester are an interesting pair and Predator’s Gold is an imaginative and entertaining young adult science fiction adventure.
Since first reading and reviewing this book for my old blog, Ready When You Are, C.B. back in 2008, many of my students have read the series. Some love it, read them all, even go out to find the books in the series that I don’t have in my classroom. Others hate it. Many read just the first book or just the first two and stop there. Steampunk is a niche market; it’s not for everyone, but those who love it are always glad to have found it. Philip Reeve’s books are probably a good wan in for people who’ve never tried Steam Punk. If you don’t like them, then it’s not the genre for you.