26 January 2008
2. The City of Gold and Lead by John Christopher
The City of Gold and Lead, the sequel to White Mountains starts with the heroic threesome from the first book training for the Games, an annual Olympic-like competition that pits athletes from nearby villages against one another for the privilege of winning a one-way ticket to the Tripods main city. There the champions will serve the Tripods. Because nobody ever comes back, what exactly this services entails is anyone's guess.
There really isn't much I can say about the plot that isn't a spoiler, so let me talk about the style - this is a much faster paced book than the first. While the first book had some "philosophical" talk weaved into the action, while Will tried to figure out what to do with himself, this one has Will focused on his mission with little side discussion about personal goals or impact on the Self.
It's probably not a surprise that Will wins the Games and heads to the City of Gold and Lead, but what he finds there is surprising. I thought I already had the Tripods figured out, and I am happy to admit I was wrong.
While Will is in the city he learns about the Plan and what will happen to mankind. This makes the book more than a simple science fiction tale and makes it a metaphor for colonization and the fight against imperialism. Or maybe that's my English teacher brain forcing an interpretation onto a text (in itself a form of imperialism?).
And Christopher knows how to tell a story: lots of action, drama, cliffhangers, twists and turns, and foreshadowing. I'm eager to start the third and final book!