What is 'London City' in Mortal Engines?

Thursday, October 27, 2016
london side view mortal engines

What is 'London' traction city in Mortal Engines?

London is the principal 'Traction City' in the novel 'Mortal Engines'.

While the book is set many hundreds of years in the future, London has returned to a Victorian-era society. Many consider given this structure is mixed with an 'old' state of technology means that London has a 'steam punk' vibe.

London's society is squarely divided into four major and a number of minor guilds.

A healthy eco-system has been established between the guilds and collectively they serve the interests of London but in reality the Lord Mayor, Magnus Chrome sees and uses London as his own personal empire.

The four Guilds of London City

  • The Engineers are responsible for maintaining the machines necessary for the survival of London. 
  • The Historians are in charge of collecting and preserving prized, often dangerous artifacts.
  • The Navigators are responsible for steering and plotting the course of London. 
  • The Merchants are in charge of running London's economy. 


Social Structure

London is built on a series of tiers or levels. This encourages the system of social classes, with the wealthier nobles at the top of the city and the lower classes further down, closer to the noise and pollution of London city's massive engines. 

You could compare this class demarcation to it to the Titanic movie's portrayal of society where the rich folk got to enjoy champagne on the upper decks and the 'travelers' known as steerage class slummed it in the depths of the ship.

I see London

Mortal Engines's author Philip Reeve made many references to historical human things from this world and placed them in his books. In terms of London, at it's highest point rests the famous  St Paul's Cathedral: the only building known to have survived the infamous 'Sixty Minute War'.

London is destroyed at the end of Mortal Engines, along with it, the maniacal Lord Mayor of the City, Magnus Chrome.

Key characters that live on London City (in the books)

  • Tom Natsworthy. The hero of the piece. 
  • Thaddeus Valentine: described as a dashing and handsome Historian often idolised by younger Historians - though his less public image involves murder and thievery as an agent of London while he works for Magnus Chrome. He was killed in the destruction of London by the MEDUSA weapon. In a plot twist revealed in the book, Valentine is in fact Hester's biological father! Played by Australian actor, Hugo Weaving. 
  • Magnus Crome, the megalomaniacal mayor of London. 
  • Katherine Valentine, Thaddeus Valentine's daughter. After uncovering her father's dark secret as an agent that has been seeking out the Medusa, she attempts to stop him, with help through Bevis Pod and the sympathetic members of the Historians guild; however, he accidentally kills her with his sword. Oh the irony. Played in the film by Leila George
  • Bevis Pod, a young apprentice Engineer. He works with Katherine to uncover Valentine's plans and falls in love with her along the way. Played by Ronan Raftery
  • Moira Plym, a plucky member of the Historian's Guild who helps in the fight against the Engineers. 
  • Dr Arkengarth, the curator of ceramics in the Historian's Guild. 
  • Dr. Twix, a researcher in the Guild of Engineers who creates many Stalkers for Magnus Crome and one of the team who studied the rediscovered Shrike.
  • In the prequel novels, the titular character Fever Crumb also eventually resides on London.

Spoiler alert

Spoiler alert

London is destroyed at the end of the Mortal Engines novel. The MEDUSA weapon has been prepared to fire when after being accidentally killed by her father, Katherine Valentine falls onto the controls of the weapon. This causes the device to malfunction and it eventually explodes, killing everybody left on the city. The ending of Mortal Engines is actually pretty dark!

Here's a sketch of London by the author himself, Mr Philip Reeve:

sketch of london traction city by philip reeve

Here is some concept art of London from the movie production that was officially released by Producer Peter Jackson:

london city from mortal engines concept design

London travelling to Batmunkh Gompa!

hester shaw traction city


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