How does Mortal Engines end? Who dies?

Tuesday, May 23, 2017
who dies in the end of mortal engines

Beware this posts discusses the ending of the novel of Mortal Engines - and given the ending of said book, most of points covered will very likely take place in the movie.

You have been warned.

So how does the book end?

There are many moving parts to the plot of Mortal Engines. There's basically two story arcs that interweave a bit before they collide right at the end.

The first is the story of Tom Natsworthy and Hester Shaw and how they meet Anna Fang, encounter the Shrike, discover a few secrets and return to London.

The second in the story of the people on the Traction City of London, notably the relationship between Katherine and Thaddeus Valentine and the Mayor of London City, the great jerk of a guy, Magnus Chrome.

Just what is the big secret?

These story arcs collide in much the same way that Batman collided with the Joker in The Dark Night. Something about when an unstoppable force meets an immovable object...

shrike mortal engines
I like Shrike

So to cut to the chase, here's what happens in the ending of Mortal Engines. 

The Medusa weapon is revealed to the people of London and with it Mayor Chrome's intention is to use the weapon to destroy the defenses of the Anti Traction league and for his city to devour all of the settlements sheltered behind them.

Young Katherine learns from Valentine that the weapon was originally found by Hester's mother, and that he had killed her to steal it for London. 

He also admits that Katherine was likely Hester's half sister. Disillusioned, and horrified by the destructive power of the weapon, Katherine and Bevis conspire to plant a bomb on Medusa to try and stop it from being used again. 

Thaddeus Valentine is revealed to have infiltrated the league disguised as a monk, and despite Tom recognizing him and attempting to sound the alarm, he succeeds in crippling their entire fleet of airships which means the plan to attack London by airship is thwarted. 

Valentine duels with and kills agent Ana Fang, before escaping in his own airship, The Thirteenth Elevator to return to London. 

Tom and Hester take Ana Fang's ship and fly it back to London in the hope of stopping Valentine and the MEDUSA themselves. 

Katherine and Bevis are caught in their attempt to bomb MEDUSA, but the historians guild come to their aid, battling with the City Engineers. 

Tom and Hester arrive, and the latter attempts to fight her way to Valentine in order to avenge her mother, but is captured. 

Tom is attacked by Valentine's personal airship above London and shoots it down. 

Bevis is killed in the fighting action but Katherine reaches Saint Paul's Cathedral with her bomb. 

Inside, she sees Hester brought before Valentine. When he attempts to kill her, Katherine jumps in the way and is fatally wounded by her own father.


Katherine then falls onto a keyboard, interrupting the firing sequence of MEDUSA, and causing it to malfunction so much so that it looks like it's about to blow up.

Hester leaves with Tom in the Jenny Hanover while Valentine chooses to stay behind in London. 

The MEDUSA weapon finally misfires, destroying most of the city. 

Hester tries to comfort a grief-stricken Tom as they fly away in the airship, apparently the only survivors of the explosion.
  • Magnus Chrome is dead.
  • The Valentines are dead. 
  • The Engineers are dead.
  • The brave Historians are dead. 
  • London is dead




Thus the ending of the novel is that EVERYBODY but Tom and Hester die.

In a sense, there's a certain kind element of dramatic irony at play. The book tells us in its title that the engines are mortal, as are the humans as it's a reference to Shakespeare. And what was the Great Bard famous for?

His tragedies. 

Bleak as heck ending. 

Read it yourself, it's a great end to a great book.



If you manage to make it to the third sequel, A Darkling Plain it is revealed that Clytie Potts and Chudleigh Pomery survived and are living in the ruins of London. What are they doing in there we wonder...

How does the film end?

Does it have a happy ending?

Yes, in a way the book is changed so the ending is more looking towards the future.

To this end, Katherine lives and leads the people of London from its wreck to the people of Batmonk Pah who let them with open arms, despite London having tried to kill them that same day.

Shrike dies of a literal and figuratively broken heart and is not killed by Hester.

Valentine does kill Anna Fang but not in a sword fight on top of the Shield Wall but drops her over the edge of a balcony in London.

We think Bevis lived but we can't be sure.

Tom and Hester do both take the Jenny Hanniver and fly off for adventures unknown.


  1. Yes and no, James! It's not just a Shakespearean pile of corpses! (What strikes me about the ending (and all of Reeve's work that I've read) is how humanly transient all the characters' emotions and motivations are. Hester's enmity evaporates in the face of Valentine's heartbreak, as does Valentine's swagger. Even Chrome loses his lust for power and control as impending disaster comes crashing down. Everyone just becomes human. Yep, they mostly end up dead, but it's the humanity of it all that I remember.) And Tom and Hester - for them love does indeed conquer all!


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