Monday, March 03, 2008

08.06 The City of Gold and Lead by John Christopher

The City of Gold and Lead (1967) by John Christopher
Pbk, Collier, 218 pp.

My thanks to The June 23rd Project for hooking me up with this and the final book of the Tripods Trilogy. You can read his review here!

In this, the second novel of John Christopher's young adult SF trilogy, we begin to learn some of the secrets behind the Tripods. The Tripods are an alien race that have enslaved the humans and rule Earth. The first book concerned a young man, Will, just reaching the age of 14 who lived in rural England. All children, as they reach this age, are taken away by the Tripods during a "capping" ceremony where a metal headpiece is adhered to their skull and they become compliant to the will of the Tripod masters forever. For some people the capping goes awry and these defectives wander the lands as Vagrants relying on the goodwill of the populace for their survival. Our hero meets a Vagrant who is actually a free man telling pre-capped children of a group of independent folk living free far to the south in the White Mountains. Will undertakes a journey with his cousin and another young man to find these free men.

The second novel of the trilogy begins after the boys have been at the White Mountains for some time. The people there live a subsistence life, always in fear of discovery by the Tripods. It is determined that more information must be obtained about these alien overlords before there is any hope of their defeat. The leaders of the free men train all the boys in various sporting and athletic endeavors so that they might go forth in a plan to find out more about the Tripods. Each year a grand tournament is held to find the superior capped athletes in the land. These chosen few are taken away to one of the three Tripod cities to be servants.

Will, among others, wins at the tournament and is taken away to the Tripods city. Here he is selected to to be the servant for one of the alien creatures and uses his position in an attempt to gather information that will, in the and, result in the eventual destruction of the Tripods.

This is another fantastical novel from John Christopher. The first book was a fairly straightforward boys adventure story although with some SF elements. This book begins similarly until Will enters the city. And then, wow!, the wild alienness begins. Christopher doesn't just rehash the trope of humanoid gray aliens but really makes them strange and with a great back story.

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