|This article does not cite any references or sources. (December 2012)|
|Cover artist||David Frankland|
|Series||Mortal Engines Quartet|
|Genre||Steampunk, Adventure novel|
|Media type||Print (Hardback & Paperback)|
|Preceded by||Mortal Engines|
|Followed by||Infernal Devices|
Predator's Gold is set two years after Mortal Engines. In that time, lovers Tom Natsworthy and Hester Shaw have been using the Jenny Haniver, their deceased comrade Anna Fang's airship, to travel across the world trading and adventuring.
Tom and Hester meet adventurer and author Nimrod Pennyroyal aboard Airhaven, who persuades them to take him as a passenger. They are soon pursued by airships of the Green Storm, a fanatical splinter group of the Anti-Traction League, and drift helplessly over the Ice Wastes.
However, they are fortunate enough to be rescued by Anchorage, once a thriving Traction City that relied primarily upon trade, but which has now been devastated by an excavated biological weapon that killed nearly all of the population. The city is ruled by Freya Rasmussen, the young margravine who was thrust into power after her parents died from the plague. The survivors are desperate for sanctuary and have set a course for North America, which has been a radioactive wasteland since the events of the Sixty Minute War. Freya, however, is convinced that they will find a land of lush greenery, which Pennyroyal claims to have seen on a voyage to the Dead Continent many years ago. She is delighted to find that Pennyroyal is on board her city and treats all three of them as honoured guests. Pennyroyal, however, is less than pleased to hear that Anchorage is making for America.
Tom and Hester set about repairing the Jenny Haniver, though Tom finds that he enjoys Anchorage. Hester, on the other hand, is jealous of his growing closeness with Freya, and disturbed by the sightings of "ghosts" in the city. Eventually she sees Tom kissing Freya, and flies away from the city in the Jenny Haniver, heartbroken.
Hester sells Anchorage's course to Piotr Masgard, the leader of the "Huntsmen" of the predator city of Arkangel, who intends to capture the city through an airship invasion and have it devoured by Arkangel. However, Hester insists that when the city eats Anchorage, Tom will be returned to her. As she returns to the Jenny Haniver, however, she is drugged and kidnapped by a Green Storm informant.
Hester is taken to Rogue's Roost, an island south of Greenland which the Green Storm have converted into a base. She discovers that the Green Storm have stolen Anna Fang's body and have turned her into a Stalker. They hope to restore Fang's memories by showing her Hester. The Green Storm also tell her that, according to their intelligence, Hester's father was actually Thaddeus Valentine. Hester finds this upsetting, and she also grieves for her loss of Tom.
Tom has been lamenting the loss of Hester and regretting kissing Freya. He and Pennyroyal are now stranded on Anchorage, as the Jenny Haniver was the only airship on the city. He is also shocked when Pennyroyal miserably confesses that he is a fraud - he never actually went to America, and based his entire book off an old explorer's map in the Reykjavík library, which was stolen many years ago.
A despairing Tom makes another shocking discovery: the "ghosts" who have been sighted around the city are actually thieves, operating out of a parasite submarine attached to the bottom of the city. They call themselves the Lost Boys and work out of a larger group in the sunken city of Grimsby. With their secret discovered, they kidnap Tom and leave the city, taking him back to Grimsby.
Tom develops a sort of friendship with one of the Lost Boys, Caul, on their trip back to Grimsby. Caul tells him that the city is ruled by "Uncle", a man who founded it long ago as a base of thieves. The Lost Boys use limpet submarines to attach themselves to raft-cities and ice-cities, robbing the inhabitants. When they arrive in Grimsby Tom is taken to see Uncle, who tells him there is something valuable in Rogue's Roost, which he wants Tom to steal for him. In return, Tom will have the chance to rescue Hester.
Tom agrees and Caul takes him to the Roost. He climbs a ladder up the rocky cliffs to infiltrate the base but is soon discovered. It is revealed that this was the Lost Boys' plan all along - they were merely using Tom as a decoy to mount their own infiltration. Caul, however, does not want to see Tom die, so he prematurely detonates the charges the Lost Boys had planted, risking their operation but saving Tom and Hester.
In the confusion the Lost Boys make their way to the chamber where the Stalker Fang is kept. This is apparently what Uncle wanted to steal, as she betrayed him by taking advantage of his love for her when he previously owned her as a slave in Arkangel to build herself the Jenny Haniver and escape; he now wants revenge by making her his slave again. However, the Stalker easily kills most of the Lost Boys, with only Caul and a few others escaping in a limpet. It pursues Tom and Hester into a hangar where the Jenny Haniver is kept, but before it kills them it suddenly remembers their faces. The Stalker lets them escape, and then takes command of the Green Storm forces.
In Grimsby, Caul has punished for his betrayal by being slowly left to die by hanging. He is saved by another Lost Boy, Gargle, who gives him the Reykjavik map of America's green places (it was actually stolen by the Lost Boys), and telling him to steal a limpet and head for Anchorage.
Arkangel is catching up to Anchorage's position west of Greenland and the Huntsmen have been dispatched. They easily capture Anchorage and leave it helpless on the ice, but with a day to go before Arkangel arrives Tom and Hester return to the city, finding it eerily deserted. They discover Pennyroyal is the only one who has evaded capture by the Huntsmen. Hester sends Tom to hide, intending to kill the Huntsmen herself. She tells Pennyroyal to run out and make a diversion. When he refuses out of fear, she reveals that she sent Arkangel after Anchorage. Terrified by her ruthlessness, he runs out and is spotted by the Huntsmen. She uses the distraction to kill those by their airship, and then heads up to the palace where the survivors are being kept. Tom sees Pennyroyal running off, and chases him.
Hester liberates the palace and kills the last of the Huntsmen, while Tom confronts Pennyroyal, who is attempting to fly off in the Jenny Haniver. Attempting to scare Tom off, Pennyroyal accidentally shoots Tom in the chest. He then steals the airship, and escapes.
Arkangel is still pursuing Anchorage, but accidentally heads over thin ice and is trapped. Anchorage escapes on an ice floe, but with the revelation that Pennyroyal is a fraud the survivors have lost hope in the salvation of their city waiting in America. Caul then arrives with the Reykjavik map, and convinces them to keep going.
Tom survives his wound, as the bullet barely missed his heart, but no-one can help him as there is no doctor aboard Anchorage. Pennyroyal makes it back to the safety of the Hunting Ground, and soon publishes a book retelling the events of Anchorage's flight west, casting himself as the hero. Arkangel is evacuated and eventually sinks to the bottom of the ocean as the ice thaws in summer. In Asia, the Green Storm, under the leadership of the Stalker Fang, topples the old Anti-Traction League.
Anchorage eventually makes it to North America, and finds it verdant and lush. Tom recovers from his wound, but is still very weak. Hester takes comfort in the knowledge that the city will be secret and safe in this new land, and is pleased to discover that she is pregnant.