↠ 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

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