Through the Looking Glass Children's Book Reviews

Tripods: The Pool of Fire

Tripods: The Pool of Fire

John Christopher
Fiction  Series
For ages 12 and up
Simon and Schuster, 2003   ISBN: 978-0689856693

One hundred years ago aliens came to Earth and they took over the planet, using huge tripod like machines to bring human cities and societies to their knees. Life on Earth has changed a great deal since then. Most humans have submitted to their alien overlords, the Masters.  When they are teenagers the people allow the Masters to apply a metal cap to their heads. Once the caps are in place, the Capped become compliant and believe anything that the aliens tell them. However, there are a few humans who have chosen not to be Capped, and groups of them have formed resistance cells around the world.

Will and Beanpole are two of these people, and not long ago they were living in one of the alien cities, serving as servants to the Masters, so that they could find out as much as they could about the invaders. Living with the Masters made it possible for them to learn a lot, and to bring back samples from the alien city. They also found out about the Masters’ ultimate plan. Apparently a ship is on its way to Earth and it is bringing a machine that will alter Earth’s air so that it will suit the aliens. The “choking green fog” that the aliens favor will wipe out life on the planet. Somehow, before four years is up, the free humans on Earth have to defeat the Masters.

The leaders of Will’s resistance group put together a plan. They must recruit young people, those who have not yet been Capped, to their cause. Members of their group will have to go out to set up as many resistance cells as possible, and create colonies of free people near the alien Cities. Then they will have to figure out how to destroy the aliens. It is decided that they will set up a base and fill it with the brightest of their young people who, it is hoped, will figure out how to kill the Masters on a large scale. The Masters in their Tripods destroyed most of humankind’s technologies when they arrived and so Will and his comrades do not have access to electricity, mechanized vehicles, powerful weapons, computers, or communication systems. They are going to have to relearn as much as they can about these technologies and rebuild machines and devices that might be useful to their cause.

After completing a recruiting mission, Will is asked to help the group he belongs to to capture one of the Masters so that they can study it and learn more about its weaknesses. The problem is that the Masters never leave their Cities unless they are inside one of their enormous Tripods, and it will not be easy to disable one of these machines. After failing several times to capture a Tripod, they finally bring one down and take one of the Masters prisoner. Now they have to figure out what, if anything, will incapacitate the large aliens.

In this final and gripping book in the Tripods trilogy, we see what Will and his friends do when they are confronted with the possibility of a human extinction event. Suddenly waiting and biding their time is no longer an option for the resistance fighters, and they have to become creative and seek out knowledge that has been lost. It is fascinating to see what the free humans do, and we cannot help feeling concerned when we get hints that more trouble might be waiting for them in the future.