The long and complicated relationship of Hester Shaw and Shrike

Monday, February 25, 2019

What is the relationship between Shrike and Hester Shaw?


Absolute book and film spoilers follow.

There are plenty of dysfunctional relationships in this world.

The Clintons.

Tom and Jerry.

Henry VIII & Anne Boleyn.

Anakin Skywalker and Padme Amidala.

Pineapple on pizza.

And then we have the relationship of Hester Shaw and Shrike.

Where do we start?

The beginning you say. But what is the beginning?

When we are introduced to Shrike in the Mortal Engines novel he is presented as Resurrected Man, a man turned into a robot killer using the technology of the ancients.

And he's been sent by Thaddeus Valentine and Magnus Chrome to kill Hester Shaw.

That's not a relationship, that's the Terminator chasing Sarah O'Conner kind of nightmare Hester is suddenly faced with.

But let's take a step back.

shrike mortal engines film


When Hester was about seven years old, Valentine attacked her parents, specifically her mother Pandora, in order to obtain MEDUSA. Suddenly she is orphaned and scarred for life both figuratively and literally.

As fate would have it, it was Shrike who found her post her escape from Valentine and this is where the long and complicated relationship begins.

Shrike was the one to continue to raise Hester. That's right, this cold, monstrous killing machine, thought to be completely dehumanized still had a heart.

In some kind of confused 'Tin Man following the Yellow Brick Road looking for a heart' concept, he cared for Hester while they lived on a traction town called Strole.

In later years, Hester leaves Shrike to begin her epic adventure to kill Thaddeus Valentine.

This depresses the dead guy somewhat as Hester is really the only thing in this world that he loves.

But why is this?

It's only briefly alluded to in the first novel but before he was turned into a Stalker, he was Kit Solent. This man was the very loving father of two children. His tale was expanded on greatly in the first prequel novel, Fever Crumb.

The Shrike we meet in Mortal Engines has managed to contain some of his human essence, his paternal nature. Hester thus serves as his replacement family.

Things then get a bit more complicated.

Even though Shrike acts under orders from London to kill Hester, he wants to kill her ANY WAY so that he can turn her into a Stalker like himself so they can both live together happily for ever as a family.

Yes, you read that right.

This mentality culminates in a confrontation wherein Hester actually agrees to this plan so that Tom's life may be spared.

How does that turn your traction wheels?

↠ What is the best order to read the Mortal Engines series of novels?

Tuesday, February 19, 2019


Should I read the Mortal Engines prequels before or after the orignals?



What Star Wars film did you see first?

Was it The Phantom Menace or A New Hope? Did you follow the order they were released?

For the many it was Star Wars IV, V and IV in that order and then years later the prequels came out and we learned how Anakin became Darth Vader.

If you watch the prequels first you miss out on the epic twist that happens in Empire Strikes Back when you learn of Luke's true parentage.

And that's the issue with the reading order of the 7 Mortal Engine novels (8 counting the Anna Fang short stories book!).

We are talking about Stalker Shrike here and a couple of other plot point surprises.

If you read the prequel series you get the full story of Shrike and how he came to be the Shrike. As you read on to the original novels, there's no big mystery, no awe as you first encounter him with Tom, knives out wanting to do nothing but kill....HESTEERRR SHAWWWWW!

But if you've read the prequels, you know exactly who this abomination is before he even takes his first step towards Tom and that kind of ruins the mystique.

Think of the first time you saw the Star Wars scene when Vader boards the Tantive IV (Leia's ship). If you knew him as the whiny pod racing kid from The Phantom Menace, the effect of his entrance would not have been the same.

But, just as there is with Star Wars, there's a kind of cheat you can do which is similar to the popular Machete Order that some Star War fans recommend.

In terms of Star Wars, it's often suggested that you watch A New Hope and then Empire so that you can enjoy the twist. You can then read the prequels and get the full back story, and then hop back to Return of the Jedi and go from there.

And so you can with Mortal Engines.

Read that first novel first so that you get the main story, exposure to the concepts such as Municipal Darwinism and that you meet the Shrike.

You can then turn the pages of the prequels starting with Reeve's Fever Crumb and then on to A Web of Air and the most excellent Scrivener's Moon.

Once you've knocked those bastards off, you can read the three books that follow Mortal Engines. And they are damn good reads with A Darkling Plain proving an excellent and satisfying end to the saga.

But what do we know?

What is Philip Reeve's take on the reading order of his own novels?

He's actually been asked this before and he's on record as saying:

"It’s up to you, of course, but I’ve always thought they’re best read in the order they were written."

And despite what we have suggested, that's not a bad way to go.

Here's why.

The thing about Peter Reeve is he became a better author as he went on with the Mortal Engines series. As he progressed from one book to the next his stories seemed to flow better and form a more cognizant whole. I personally enjoyed the last two novels more when compared to the first. That said, those novels were 'standing on the shoulders of giants'.

But Reeve's also gives a hint of caution about the prequels:

"It’s a different setting in many ways – there are, for instance, no airships and no mobile cities.

I think the books have a slightly different tone, too – the heroes of the Mortal Engines quartet are always zooming across continents and oceans, but Fever Crumb’s adventures all take place in London or in the island city of Mayda, until Scrivener’s Moon, when Municipal Darwinism finally begins to take off and there is a certain amount of charging about on ramshackle motorised fortresses."

The choice, dear reader, is clearly yours. But when you've done that, it's time to move on to Railhead...

Mortal Engines is out today on digital!

Mortal Engines film run has ended and now the home release dates are out:
  • Digital February 19 
  • 4K Ultra HD, Blu-ray & DVD media March 12
You can pre-order your copy of Shrike and Hester now via Amazon.


Here's our pitch for a Mortal Engines Netflix series - featuring @jihae as Anna Fang

Sunday, February 10, 2019
anna fang netflix show



Why Mortal Engines should be turned into a Netflix show


We've had the Mortal Engines movie and it bombed at the box office, yet it's a good watch, and probably will become a cult film over time.

There's plenty of stories to be told in the Mortal Engines realm - so what if, it was re-born as a Netflix television series?

Given the movie has told the first part of the story of Tom and Hester, a new approach could be to do a series which focuses on the story of Anna Fang and how she came to be a leader of the Anti Traction League. 

This kind of approach would be a fresh lens to attract new viewers to the franchise.

Author Philip Reeve has crafted such a wonderful character in Anna Fang, she's really a fan favorite. Night Flights rounded off some really good plot origins that were merely hinted at in the novels and this could provide the grounds for a really good origin story that sets up the franchise afresh.

Let's say that's season one, the Anna Fang story. You could tell her origin and then cut to her death at the end of the season.

Season two could be a soft reboot of sorts that tells the story of Tom and Hester but perhaps it doesn't need to focus on the story of the first novel. It could be covered pretty quickly and then they could move onto new adventures, the kind perhaps found in Predator's Gold.

Indeed, one doesn't have to focus on Tom and Hester at all really - you could indeed skip to book three of the Mortal Engines series, Infernal Devices and tell the tale of Wren, the daughter of Tom and Hester. T&H could then play more supporting roles.

Given how the character of Anna Fang is resurrected and turned into a Stalker in Wren's story, Anna Fang's 'bad guy' arc could be wound really epically into a central storyline, which sort of bounces off the season one story points so the conflicted character could come out to play.

Naturally, Jihae should play the adult Anna again.

anna fang netflix show

The full set of new Mortal Engines covers by Ian McQue including prequels

Friday, February 8, 2019

Scholastic have revealed the full set of new cover designs for the Mortal Engines quartet - and also the first look at the cover for Night Flights, the short stories collection that features Anna Fang.

The illustration of the art has been done by the pretty ace Ian McQue and was designed by Jamie Gregory.


The Illustrated World of Mortal Engines was co-written with Jeremy Levett - he did a Reddit AMA on the book and the collaboration with Reeve.


mortal engines ian mvque covers


The prequel novels, Fever Crumb, A Web of Air and Scrivener's Moon have also had a make over:




Here's the cover for Night Flights:

night flights book cover

Here's our review of Night Flights. It's a quick read but we kinda liked it.

Here's a quick doodle sketch Ian did of a traction city:

ian mcque traction city sketch

↠ What are Stalkers in Mortal Engines?

Saturday, February 2, 2019

What are the Stalker Soldiers in Mortal Engines?

CAUTION: EPIC SPOILERS BELOW FOR BOTH BOOK AND FILM


The Stalkers of Mortal Engines are a kind of 'universal soldier' combatant that can be programmed for warfare and assassination.

Stalkers and their variations play various parts in each of Philip Reeve's Quartet of Mortal Engines, Predator's Gold, Infernal Devices and A Darkling Plain.

What are the origins of the Stalkers?


Stalkers originally were designed as mechanisms for humans to transfer their consciousness from one body to another, thus defeating death. The human mind could literally be saved to hard drive and then transferred into the body of another human.

It was long after the events of 60 Minute War that 'old technology; was adapted to make Stalkers into emotionless monsters to serve at the whim of their masters.

Often referred to as 'Resurrected Men' Stalkers were originally were built by the Nomadic Empires that battled each other across the volcano maze of what was once Europe long before the Traction Cities Era began.

The Nomadic Empires built Stalkers by recovering dead bodies from the battlefields, placing them in laboratories and then bringing them back 'life' by using 'Old Tech' machines that were physically connected to the dead body's nervous system. This practiced continued on unto the Traction City Era.

The bodies were also operated on so internal organs were no longer necessary. The designers also would graft on a metal carapace to the body. Weapons could be implanted into the body and the use of claws was a common feature. In the film Shrike did not have claws, whereas he did in the novel.

The best subjects were taller specimens and they looked a scary site with their glowing green eyes that all Stalkers had.

Stalkers are generally considered emotionless automatons, only acting at the will of their Masters.

Once a dead human is resurrected as a Stalker, they have no feelings, display no emotions and they will not have any memory of who they were before they died. Any past memories are jumbled messes and lost glimpses of their former life.

In Mortal Engines, the City of London manufactures its own Stalkers.

The London Guild of Engineers builds new Stalkers from dead prison convicts at their experimental prison in the Deep Gut. These particular Stalkers are not considered as refined as the infamous 'Shrike' due to use of less sophisticated stalker-brains, the devices used in the brains and nerves of Stalkers.

The origins of these Resurrected Men, begin to be explained in the first prequel in the Mortal Engines series, Fever Crumb. Srivener's Moon expands on the details as well,

shrike grike mortal engines


What is the Shrike in Mortal Engines?


The 'Shrike' was the first Stalker to be mentioned in the original Mortal Engines book.

His character was under the control of the Mayor of London Traction City, Magnus Chrome. Chrome used the Shrike to find Hester Shaw and Tom Natsworthy and he was ordered to kill them.

At face value, this seemed a straight forward plot point however it was later revealed that The Shrike had once looked after Hester in a past life.

Due to his emotionally retarded state, his own goal in life was to turn Hester into a Stalker like himself, so they could live together forever.

In terms of memory retention, Shrike appears to be the exception to the rule as was able to recall his past life as 'Kit Solent' shortly before his death at the hands of Tom Natsworthy by sword. Kit Solent's tale and how he became a Stalker of the Lazarus Brigade was covered in the prequel novel, Fever Crumb.

In the film Shrike is played by veteran actor Stephan Lang - you may remember him as the evil general in Avatar.

>> Stuck for yeast when making beer? You can ferment your beer with baker's yeast! <<

Are Stalkers invulnerable?


Stalkers are heavily protected their armour and but invulnerable to small arms fire and hand-held weaponry.

Due to their 'programming' they do not feel any pain as their nervous systems are rendered. This means they are pretty handy in hand to hand combat as even if their opponent is able to stab them or cause injury, they will not feel it and be able to continue to fight and thus increasing their chances of winning.

In Mortal Engines, Tom Natsworthy did manage to kill the Shrike Stalker with a sword by impaling it through his neck. The Shrike was suffering from some performance issues as he'd actually been run over by a Traction City!

hester and shrike

But there's a reason Stalkers are known as Resurrected Men....

Anna Fang as a Stalker in the sequel novels


In Mortal Engines, Anaa Fang was Tom and Hester's rescuer from the Shrike when he originally caught up with them on Airhaven.

Despite her herorics, Fang was ultimately killed by the dastardly Thaddeus Valentine in a sword fight.

In Predator's Gold it was revealed that a splinter group of the famed Anti Traction League called Green Storm had recovered Fang's body and applied the Stalker Resurrection techniques to it.

Green Storm had intended that the revived Anna Fang would lead them in battle against the remaining Traction Cities.

Eventually, the resurrected Fang stalker would take part in many battles and features in Infernal Devices and A Darkling Plain where her character wreaks some pretty spectacular havoc using the ODIN device.

The Shrike concept art from Mortal Engines
Shrike fan art


Extra for Experts (spoilers):
  • Stalkers are sometimes referred to as 'Jaegers'
  • All Stalkers have green glowing eyes
  • Stalker tech can be used on animals such as birds and even whales
  • In some American versions of Mortal Engines Shrike is named 'Grike'.
  • Shrike is named after the bird of the same name.
  • Shrike is actually the narrator of the Mortal Engines books as discovered in the final paragraph of A Darkling Plain. 
Powered by Blogger.
Back to Top