Review of Night Flights by Philip Reeve

Saturday, September 22, 2018
night flights review phillip reeve

Does Night Flights stack up as a good read in the Mortal Engines realm?

I was both happy and sad to pick up my copy of Night Flights.

It’s collection of short stories written by Philip Reeve as kind of as a tie-in to the Mortal Engines movie. Reeve is on record that having met Jihae, the actress who has played Anna Fang in the movie, he was inspired to go back to some discarded story ideas from the novels and rework them into this collection.

He said:

"The original idea was just to re-publish an existing story, Traction City, with a lot of new illustrations. But while I was in New Zealand last year I talked to Jihae, who plays Anna in the Mortal Engines movie, and it made me realise we need More Anna Fang. So I thought a group of stories about her, at different points in her life, might be a more interesting idea."

Reeve kindly acknowledges this inspiration in a dedication to Jihae in the book.

Some mild spoilers probably follow...

Night Flights features a cover by Ian McQue and he has drawn a series of pictures that appear throughout, my favourite being his interpretation of a Stalker.

I was happy because I was going to be able to read some more about the coolest character in the novels, Anna Fang. She’s kind of the Han Solo of the first Mortal Engines novel and then the character goes into hyperdrive but you’d be best to read A Darkling Plain to understand that...

I was sad to pick up the book. The first being that it was probably the last set of stories to ever come out in the Mortal Engines series and the second that it was so thin! I knew there were only three stories but maybe my expectations were too high.

That out of the way, I’m delighted to report that the three stories are an excellent read. Each of them flesh out the character of Anna Fang (correctly pronounced as Fung we learn).

The first, Frozen Heart, is a great insight into how as a slave Anna Fang escaped on the Jenny Hanniver. The first two novels merely hinted at this backstory and with it so fleshed out here, it makes the character appear even more human and it certainly gives the character her own 'moral authority' for joining the Anti-Traction League.

The second, Traction City Blues, takes place on London itself.

While Anna is playing spy, she comes across a Stalker and a game of wits with the London Police, herself and the Stalker plays out. It’s good fun and once again (from the novels), Reeve demonstrates the humanity of a Stalker so very well.

The final story, The Teeth of the Sea, is a self-contained adventure were Anna is sent by the Anti Traction League to act as an assassin to kill the Sultana of Pulau Pinang Island.

It’s a well set up vehicle to show how Anna Fang not only believes she was on the right side of the ‘war’ against Municipal Darwinism but that her moral compass is hers alone and that she is not a killer that simply follows the orders of her Masters.

It’s a quick but fun romp around the island with a fantastic ending (as all short stories should have).

On either side of each story is a narrative that binds together the three stories very well and it has a very nice pay off which I can’t reveal here but for anyone who has read and enjoyed the very first novel, they will probably quite enjoy it.

You can probably read this book in less than an hour so Reeve has left this reader with a case of wanting more which is probably a good way to leave things.

I just can’t help wonder what a full length novel featuring the adventures of Anna Fung may have been like...

One day Philip?

Check out the book's availabity on Amazon.


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