The City of Gold and Lead

by John Christopher
Series: Tripods 2
Reviewed date: 2007 Oct 26
Rating: 4
218 pages
cover art

The second book in the Tripods trilogy is far better than the first. The White Mountains chronicles the adventures of three young boys on their journey to the community of free men in the Swiss Alps. In The City of Gold and Lead, the free men decide to strike back against the Tripods that rule the world.

But first they need information. Little is known about the Tripods, and nobody has ever entered the Tripods' huge domed city and returned. The Resistance comes up with a plan. Will, Beanpole, and Fritz Eger are fitted with false Caps and sent to compete in the Games. The winners in each sport are selected to serve the Tripods in the City. If the boys win, they must gather as much information as they can, and escape the city.

Will wins the boxing championship and Fritz wins the sprint. Both are selected by the Tripods. Inside the great domed city, they meet the Masters. The Tripods are merely mechanical vehicles. The Masters are tall, thin, tripedal, tentacled, hideously ugly creatures. They breathe a poisonous atmosphere--hence the domed city. Will, Fritz, and the other slaves wear gas masks as they serve the Masters.

Will and Fritz gather much information about the Masters. Will's Master is particularly forthcoming, and he confides to Will that the Earth will soon be rendered uninhabitable for humans. A thousand great atmosphere generators will spew out the poisonous concoction the Masters breathe, and soon the world will be ready for fullscale colonization. All this is set to occur within four years.

Shocked--the Resistance had expected to have decades to plan a decisive strike against the Tripods--Will and Fritz realize they must escape immediately. The Resistance must be warned so they can act right away.

The City of Gold and Lead is a fun book. My one objection is that Beanpole should never have been permitted to compete in the Games. His brilliant mind and his inventiveness would have been too precious to risk.

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