Through the Looking Glass Children's Book Reviews

The Tripods: The City of Gold and Lead

The Tripods: The City of Gold and Lead

John Christopher
Fiction  Series
For ages 12 and up
Simon and Schuster, 2003   ISBN: 978-0689856662

More than a hundred years ago machines called Tripods arrived on Earth and ever since then humans have been dominated by the alien machines. Every human who turns fourteen is “Capped” by the Tripods, which means that they have a metal cap attached to their heads. After the cap is put in place the human becomes compliant and willing to do whatever the Tripods demand. Though most people are happy to be Capped, there are a few humans who are not willing to be Capped and who are determined to fight back against the Tripods. A group of these rebels are living in the White Mountains and they desperately need more information about the Tripods. Are they intelligent machines or are they just vehicles that are being used by alien life forms?

   The plan is to send a group of young men to the City of Tripods to compete in the Games. The winners of the Games are sent to the City to serve the Tripods. If the rebel athletes are able to win they will be able to gather information about the enemy. After many months of training, the leaders of the White Mountains group decide to send Will, his friend Beanpole, and another boy called Fritz to the Games

   After a hazardous journey to get to the City of Tripods, the three young men compete in the Games, and Will and Fritz are the winners in the boxing and short distance running events. They are going to get into the City.

   Will and the other winners are transported to the City inside a Tripod. There they learn that they are going to serve as servants to the “Masters.” It would appear that the Tripods are not the aliens: the Masters that move around inside the Tripods are.

   Will’s Master does not treat him badly, but it is hard for Will to get used to the environmental conditions in the City. The gravity is greater, he has to wear a mask to breathe, and it is always incredibly hot. For a time Will forgets about his mission, but when he meets up with Fritz, he is reminded that they are there to gather information and to then get that information back to the White Mountains.

   In this sequel to The White Mountains, John Christopher, gives his readers a great deal of information about the Tripods and their alien operators. One would think that knowing who is behind the Tripod invasion would be a relief, but in fact the truth turns out to be worse than one would expect. A lot worse.

  Wonderfully crafted and perfectly paced, this is a tale that readers of all ages will find thought-provoking.