Infernal Devices (Philip Reeve novel)
|This article does not cite any references or sources. (December 2012)|
|Cover artist||David Frankland|
|Series||Hungry City Chronicles|
|Genre||Steampunk, Science fiction, Young adult novel|
|Media type||Print (Hardcover & Paperback)|
|Preceded by||Predator's Gold|
|Followed by||A Darkling Plain|
The story continues sixteen years after the events of Predator's Gold. The peaceful city of Anchorage is now a static settlement called "Anchorage-in-Vineland" on an island in the Dead Continent. During those peaceful years, Tom and Hester have raised a teenage daughter named Wren Natsworthy.
Under the Stalker Fang, formerly the famous Anti-Tractionist heroine Anna Fang, the Green Storm has been waging war against the Traction Cities for fourteen years. At first, the Storm seemed to be winning the war against the moving cities. However, the cities began to fight back, and alliances were formed between several cities, including the Traktionstadtsgesellschaft, an alliance of German speaking cities.
The Green Storm has legions of soldiers and Stalkers, fighter airships called "Murasaki Fox Spirits" and "Zhang Chen Hawkmoths", which are vast air destroyers and carriers. Apparently, the Stalker Fang regards her military forces expendable, which makes her unpopular among many other leaders of the Storm. This is evident by the use of "Tumblers" - one-manned craft used to ram Traction Cities in kamikaze missions. The Green Storm also has an elite branch of its military called the "Resurrection Corps", who are responsible for resurrecting dead bodies into Stalkers for the war effort.
The title is probably a reference to the words of the Stalker Fang in Predator's Gold: "...and then we shall release a storm which will rid this world of [the Tractionists'] infernal devices forever."
Sixteen years after the events of Predator's Gold, the former ice city of Anchorage has settled on an island in North America unaffected by the fallout from the Sixty Minute War and become a static city named Anchorage-in-Vineland. Most of the inhabitants of the static are happy with their new life, but Wren Natsworthy, the teenage daughter of Tom Natsworthy and Hester Shaw, is bored with her life. When she sneaks out one night she encounters three Lost Boys, Gargle, Remora and Fishcake, who have come to Anchorage in search of a mysterious Rasmussen family artifact named the "Tin Book", a copy of a document recovered from an old American Empire nuclear submarine by the original founders of the New Anchorage in the aftermath of the Sixty Minute War. The Tin Book, bearing the insignia of the President of the United States of America, contains the activation codes for the final remaining orbital weapons platform left over from the Sixty Minute War, potentially with firepower far greater than that of MEDUSA, the energy weapon that destroyed the traction city of London in Mortal Engines. The Lost Boys persuade an eager Wren to retrieve the Tin Book for them and to join them on their journeys around the world.
Wren begins her mission by asking Freya Rasmussen, knowing that the Book is in the palace's library. Freya tells Wren of the Book's origins but explains that no one knows what it is about or what it is for; all it has in it are random letters and numbers. When Wren reports to Gargle he tells her that Nimrod Pennyroyal's book about the time he spent in Anchorage has revealed the Lost Boys' existence to the raft cities that they previously robbed, making it harder for them to steal. As a result the Lost Boys have been forced to loot cities further afield, but most of the Lost Boys' limpets never return. Gargle explains that raft cities have also begun searching for Grimsby and claims the Tin Book contains information that could get the sunken city moving again; however, it is likely that the leader of the Lost Boys, Uncle wanted to sell it to either to the Stalker Fang or the Traktionstadtsgesellschaft, a union of German-speaking Traction Cities.
Wren steals the Book and gives it to the Lost Boys. However, the townspeople of Anchorage find Wren; believing that Wren is in danger, Hester opens fire on the limpet which is taking her away, killing Gargle and Remora. Fishcake, devastated by the death of his comrades, kidnaps Wren with the intention of taking her to Grimsby. However, en route to the sunken city Fishcake receives a communication from the raft resort of Brighton, claiming that the parents of children kidnapped by the Lost Boys have united to help track down their missing children. Fishcake, believing that he will reunited with his parents, changes course to Brighton, but upon arrival he and Wren are taken captive by slavers, who reveal that the communication is merely a trap intended to lure the Lost Boys' limpets to the city so that their Boy crews can be sold as slaves. The owner of the slave trade company, Nabisco Skhin, intends to sell the two to Traction Cities in Nuevo Maya, but Wren convinces him to sell her to Nimrod Pennyroyal, who is now mayor of Brighton.
Tom and Hester set sail with Caul in a limpet to Grimsby to save Wren, unaware that she is in Brighton. When they arrive in Grimsby, they discover that Brighton has bombed the city with depth charges, flooding most of it and killing most of the Lost Boys. Uncle convinces Caul to defect to the Lost Boys. However, Uncle is killed when Caul tries to let Hester and Tom escape, and so Caul and Freya take the remaining Lost Boys back to Anchorage while Tom and Hester go to Brighton.
Meanwhile, the Stalker Shrike is 're-resurrected' to mark the Stalker Fang's birthday. The Green Storm is extending its borders and has started to bomb and destroy Traction Cities, starting a war with the Traktionstadtsgesellschaft.
At Brighton, Tom is captured as a slave. When Hester discovers his fate she sets the slaves in the city free in order to create a distraction and free him. During the resulting pandemonium, Tom meets Fishcake and promises to take Fishcake with him and Hester. Meanwhile, the Green Storm attacks the city, in search of the Tin Book. The Stalker Fang succeeds in obtaining it and memorises the codes. However, shortly afterwards she is attacked by Shrike (Grike in the American editions), who has been programmed by his re-resurrector, Oenone Zero, to tear her apart. He succeeds and scatters her pieces along the coastline of Africa.
Cloud 9, Pennyroyal's floating palace, is severed from Brighton in the Green Storm attack. It crash lands in the Sahara Desert, with Wren and her fellow slave Theo Ngoni. The 'Jenny Haniver' is found by Tom and Hester, who have escaped Brighton, but accidentally left Fishcake behind. Having spoken with Pennyroyal, Wren has discovered that Hester sold Anchorage to Arkangel in Predator's Gold. When Wren tells this to Tom, Hester flees into the burning wreckage of Cloud 9 in despair, believing her life with him is over. Once within the complex, she encounters Shrike, who carries her out into the Sahara Desert.
In the desert, the Stalker Fang's still functioning severed head and body are found by the betrayed and miserable Fishcake, who agrees to help rebuild her.