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The City of Gold and Lead by John…

The City of Gold and Lead (1967)

by John Christopher

Other authors: See the other authors section.

Series: The Tripods (2)

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1,360198,628 (3.95)50



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Showing 1-5 of 18 (next | show all)
I could cut a long review short: The Tripod Trilogy is a terrific sf series for the young ones, the darkest revelation of a post-tripod-conquest world is, obviously, that women don't matter at all. Where does that leave all the young men?

I read these books when I was 11 or 12 at the same time as other juvenile genre pieces from C.S. Lewis to Tamora Pierce, and I can't remember if I noticed the lack of girls then. I possibly was too busy having a crush on the strong-but-silent Fritz....

The story begins with Will losing his cousin Jack as a friend after the annual Capping ceremony takes place. When a boys and girls are Capped they become men and women. They also no longer have any interest in "childish" speculation about the mysterious giant tripods that perform the ceremony and somehow rule the world. In the vulnerable time after losing his friend, Will meets a man posing as a vagrant - someone who, after capping, loses their wits and wanders freely across the country - who offers him the chance to run away across the channel to The White Mountains where there is a community of free men.

Only men, mind you, only men. This can be justified by one thing - not stated in the text, the author presumes that the reader won't notice or care the specific denial of a chance at freedom for girl - Vagrants are only a small percentage of the Capped, and the majority of that small percentage are men. This is tactfully theorized to be the result of male brains being more prone to resist the dominating orders of the Cap. Women accept domination. This was written in 1967 and the author later went on record, not apologizing, to say that he wrote the books the way he did because it was understood that young boys don't want to read about girl heroes, but girls like reading about boys. That's totally reasonable.

I have all of these objections, and the problem increased as we got further away from the first book which mentioned Will and Henry's mothers, and the Comtesse, and Eloise; I still immensely enjoyed rereading these books. Christopher had a wonderful sense of pace and giving just enough description to keep the adventure and conceit afloat without bogging the story down with info-dumps. The baffling fact remains that there are no women among the free men at all, none mentioned. Perhaps they provide the sandwiches for the boys' picnic lunch at the start of The City of Gold and Lead.

My 11-year-old self doubtlessly was horrified by the noxious green clouds and the oppressive artificial gravity of the city, not to mention the inhabitants, but I recollect dwelling on those kinky mask-and-shorts uniforms all the slaves wore....

One part of the series' appeal is how it covers so much ground in a very short time, Christopher practically uses montages in the second and third books to accelerate into the action. Will's character is fairly well drawn, he is a very believable whiny teenager. Henry, Beanpole and the "taciturn" Fritz are merely sketches, speculated about by Will, but the reader never gets to know much of them except by what their adolescent brains choose to add.

The books keep accelerating to a climactic finish with The Pool of Fire, but not before Will and Fritz have a long walking holiday through Europe and the Middle East stealing boys. Afterwards, Christopher presents a stern gloss on world politics with "The Conference of Men". In a bittersweet turn, the world is free once more, but women have either faded entirely within their glass coffins or are simply enjoying being mastered to much to participate.

John Christopher does an excellent job of making a world dominated by giant metal tripods seem real and creates a classic escapist story where intrepid pre-teens save the planet. If only he'd thought of the giddy trouble those young men could get into in a liberated world with no females.

How it All Began - Twenty years later, Christopher explains the origins of his homo-erotic fantasia in When the Tripods Came ( )
  ManWithAnAgenda | Feb 18, 2019 |
In my option, The City of Gold and Lead, is a great book about bravery. Furthermore, I enjoyed how the author used the alien ‘masters’’ dome city as the setting for part of the book. While the tone of the first Tripods book is more lively and friendly, the second book drives away from these themes. The author gives a first-person point of view as to how cruel the masters are. When Will and Fritz compare their alien masters later in the book, I was shocked to find out how different their masters were. For example, Fritz’s master would beat him for fun. While Will’s master, does beat rarely, his master is more curious then Fritz’s. This contrast debunks the theory that all masters’ are the same. One could say that the masters are like humans in several ways. First, they have their own personalities and hobbies. Second, they have their own technologies, cities, and social order. Another thing I noticed, is that history has repeated it’s self within this book series. This being, invaders (alien masters’) came to a new land. Here, they fought and over-through the lands’ leaders, and took in slaves. This has happened several times in mankind’s’ history. In a way, this is cycle is nothing new for humans. Only differences is, a different kind of creature were the ones to invade and enslave humans. ( )
  Swyatt4 | Oct 23, 2017 |
A lot darker in tone than I remember from reading in years past.

Still a good, exciting read though. ( )
  BookstoogeLT | Dec 10, 2016 |
I havent thought of this series since 4th grade when it was the shit. ALL the cool kids were reading it.
  laurenbufferd | Nov 14, 2016 |
This is a boy's adventure story, a followup to The White Mountains, that was first published in 1968. My copies of these first two books date from 1988 and feature cover illustrations by Tim Hildebrandt which was a nice little bonus. The first story ended with three boys travelling from England and France to a refuge in the Swiss alps in a very dark future where the world has been overtaken by machines called "Tripods." It is part of a trilogy. We learn here that the machines are not of earth and the planet is ruled by a race that the people refer to as "The Masters." The first part of this story was a rather bland continuation from the first novel where a plan has been devised to infiltrate the Tripods domed city to learn about them - who are they and can they be stopped?

This story about midway rather suddenly got VERY interesting when three of the boys, by winning places in a games competition are sent to the tripods city to serve the masters. It is considered a great honor by the populace who are almost all under a mind control. The story is a first person account told by Will, who is again our main character as in the first novel. The author does an excellent job of giving us really nasty aliens and the unusual society that is theirs. There's a bit of horrific stuff in here, well, darn shocking anyway, as Will and we the readers see what has been happening and learn a little about how the world was conquered. I don't want to give stuff away, but Will "lucks out" by being chosen to serve a master that is a little different than the majority, unlike one of his companions Fritz who gets a nasty one. Still, things are nasty for anyone enslaved in the Tripod city. I can see why this series was popular because if I had been reading this as a 12 year old I would view this as something like "The Hunger Games" and similar series are now.

Anyway this is very good stuff and I eagerly await reading the final book. ( )
  RBeffa | Sep 28, 2016 |
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» Add other authors (8 possible)

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Christopher, Johnprimary authorall editionsconfirmed
Burleson, JoeCover artistsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Gaminara, WilliamNarratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Hildebrandt, TimCover artistsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Hollander, LisaCover designersecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Lago, EduardoTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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One day, Julius called a conference of the instructors, and all training was canceled.
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0689856660, Mass Market Paperback)

Long ago, the Tripods--huge, three-legged machines--descended upon Earth and took control. Now people unquestioningly accept the Tripods' power. They have no control over their thoughts or their lives. But for a brief time in each person's life--in childhood--he is not a slave. For Will, his time of freedom is about to end--unless he can escape to the White Mountains, where the possibility of freedom still exists. The Tripods trilogy follows the adventures of Will and his cohorts, as they try to evade the Tripods and maintian their freedom and ultimately do battle against them. The prequel, When the Tripods Came, explains how the Tripods first invaded and gained control of the planet.

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:20:58 -0400)

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Three boys set out on a secret mission to penetrate the City of the Tripods and learn more about these strange beings that rule the earth.

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