Yes folks, the time has come to talk of Scrivener’s Moon, the third Fever Crumb book, which is officially published in the UK in April, but will probably start to appear in bookshops from about the middle of March. (I think I can avoid giving away too much about the story, but if you haven’t yet read Fever Crumb or A Web of Air then what follows may contain ever so slight spoilers…)
Picking up pretty much where A Web of Air left off, Scrivener’s Moon covers a longer span of time than any of the previous books set in the world of Mortal Engines (or WoME to its friends) – unless you count the last chapter of A Darkling Plain, of course. Fever returns to London to find it in the process of being demolished and reconstructed as a Traction City, and for some months, despite her doubts about the whole idea, she does her best to help: then adventure rears its head again, with news from the north about a mysterious black pyramid which Fever’s unpredictable mother believes may hold valuable secrets. So, like the four books in the original quartet, but unlike the previous Fever Crumb titles, this book becomes the story of a journey.
It’s also a bit of a war story, since the nomad empires of the north are starting to worry about the new London, and their worries are focused by Cluny Morvish, the daughter of a minor nobleman of the Arkangelsk Empire, who has started to have terrifying dreams about an all-devouring mobile London. The Arkangelsk technomancer Tharp promotes her as a prophet, and with her help all the disparate, warring empires of the north begin uniting to march on London.
The Arkangelsk are presumably the ancestors of the people who build Arkangel, one of the more fearsome predator cities of the WoME, but in this era they seem quite a jolly bunch. They are hairy warrior types who live in ramshackle convoys of traction forts. landships and mobile homesteads, following the migrations of their reindeer and mammoth herds. Their hobbies include crushing their enemies, seeing them driven before them, and hearing the lamentation of their women. Like their spiritual cousins, Vikings and Klingons, they probably spend a lot of their downtime quaffing flagons of foaming ale and going, “HA HA HA HA!” although I don’t think we actually get to see much of that happening in this story; they’re too worried about the threat from London to do any serious quaffing or HAing. Even so, if you wanted to make a movie of Scrivener’s Moon you might want to start by e-mailing Brian Blessed’s agent…
Cluny Morvish is probably the most important new character I’ve introduced in this book: here’s a doodle of her that I did on the cover of the manuscript, although I think she’s bigger-boned than this. She’s a sort of anti-Fever; a good-natured, friendly, physical, huntin’, shootin’ and fishin’ sort of nomad girl who believes fairly unquestioningly in magic and ancestor worship and all sorts of things that Fever would dismiss as stupid. It would be nice to think that she’ll go on to feature in future volumes, but battle looms in the final chapters, and there’s no telling who will survive, for this is also one of my more grim and bloodthirsty visits to the WoME: characters die, there are disasters and betrayals, and it’s all quite gloomy really, although there are glimmers of hope too, and while Fever loses a lot, she gains new friends and discovers a bit more about her world, and how it came to be the way it is.
Charley Shallow, the apprentice Scriven-hunter from Fever Crumb, returns in this book, gradually making a name for himself in the new London; it’s been quite interesting to see how he develops. One character who doesn’t reappear is Arlo Thursday: there was so much going on with London and the nomads that it proved impossible to flit off to other parts of the world to see how he was getting on. However, Fever hasn’t forgotten him, and nor have I: I woke up the other morning with the first few chapters of a new book in my head, which are about what becomes of Arlo after A Web of Air.
Anyway, that’s enough from me: here’s what Scholastic have to say about Scrivener’s Moon in the blurb on the back cover: they always make it sound so much more exciting:
Cover illustration by David Wyatt.