References to gods and religion in Mortal Engines

Friday, May 5, 2017
airhaven mortal engines

What gods and religion is in Mortal Engines.

In the Mortal Engines book series the popular religions of our world, such as Catholicism, Islam, and Judaism do necessarily exist as formally functioning entities.

They have been lost to thousands of years of time.

But time does echo in the strangest of ways. 

Given humanity seems to have a need for religion or its themes as a way to explain things, it's with no surprise that the humans that live in the era of Municipal Darwinism have created new religions and some with elements of the 'old religions'.

Even if they think Mickey Mouse and Pluto are gods. 

Yes, that's right.

Due to some miss-translation and interpretation about the gods of the 'Ancients' who lived before the 60 Minute War, the people of London's traction city think that Disney's greatest icon is indeed a god.

They have plastic statues of Mickey Mouse and his dog Pluto.

False gods if there ever were!

But who is the real god of London? 

Nicholas Quirke.

Now who is he?

First referenced in the Mortal Engine novels, his character appears in the Fever Crumb Series as 'Nicolas Quercus'.

He is remembered in the time of the Mortal Engines Quartet by the name of Quirke and regarded as a God by decree of Mayor of London, Magnus Chrome.

Taking the iconography (?) of Christmas Trees at Christmas, the people of London have 'Quirekemas trees' which have shining lights on them, just as humans do to celebrate the birth of Jesus Christ. Thus Quirkemas Day is to celebrate the man who was responsible for beginning the Tractionist Era post the 60 Minute War.

Municipal Darwinism

So we can't talk about Quirke without talking about the concept of Municipal Darwinism. This way of life for traction cities has taken on an almost spiritual life path and borders on a being a religion of its own and is a key theme of Mortal Engines.

Indeed for its followers, it is considered dirty and wrong to set foot on bare earth, and "unnatural" for cities to be stationary. While it's not a core religion, it's a fundamental part of the mentality of Tractionists and for many of them, it drives their very existence. 

Letters to Clio

In Greek Mythology, Clio is the daughter of Zeus. Considered the 'Muse of History.

In the first novel, Katherine Valentine visits the Temple of Clio on London to try and make sense of the things she has learned about her father and the Mayor. Clio has personal resonance for Katherine as Thaddeus Valentine's villa is named "Clio House" for the goddess.

Amusingly, the characters in the Mortal Engines series often take her name in vain as they swear in frustration.

Goddess of Death 

As Tom lies probably dying having been shot by Professor Peabody in a Predator's Gold, Windolene whispers quietly so as not to alert the Goddess of Death to Tom's misfortune by speaking too loud.

Street of Ten Thousand Deities Gods of Ice

The Margravine of Anchorage city, Freya Rasmussen prayed to these gods.

Sky Gods

Doctor Oenone Zero passed by Temple of Sky Gods, the Golden Pagoda of the Mountain Gods, the Apple Goods and the 'silent house' of Lady Death. She ended up saying a praying to Jesus, 'a god nailed to a cross'. Refer page 157 of Infernal Devices.


Phillip Reeve freely mentions things from our realm in our books. Poskitt is referenced as as a god in Predator's Gold. This is a reference to Kjartan Poskitt, a friend and the author of books that Reeve has illustrated in the past.

Saint Paul's Cathedral - does this mean there's Christianity in Mortal Engines?

If the old religions are gone, why was Saint Paul's Cathedral retained on London for so long? No one really knows. It was there for thousands of years before it was turned into the housing base for the Medusa Weapon by Magnus Chrome.

There's no apparent reference to it being used for religious or Christian purposes by the citizens of London.

Infernal Devices ultimately reveals that Christianity has actually managed to perservere, mostly in Africa. Dr Zero / Mrs Naga prays to a christian god so in Reeve's world, the key elements of that religion have survived.

The Guide to the Traction Era by Philip Reeve suggests that the people of Zagwa once strongly followed a faith called Wakunkite but this was eventually superseded by Christianity.

In Fever Crumb, Ted Swiney swears 'Cheesers Crice', a reference to Jesus Christ.

A Web of Air

The city of Mayda features a conflict between religion and reason - to which Fever prostrates herself in front of a priestess who worhsips the ocean to keep Arlo Tuesday's location and discoveries secret to protect

London drawing by Tim Denby.


  1. Oenone Zero becomes a Christian, and Zagwa is also referred to as a Christian country, I believe.

    1. You're quite right and have added that. Thanks!


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