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Summary

The Great Network is a place of drones and androids, maintenance spiders and Station Angels. The place of the thousand gates, where sentient trains crisscross the galaxy in a heartbeat.

Zen Starling is a petty thief from Thunder City. So when mysterious stranger Raven sends Zen on a mission to infiltrate the emperor's train, he jumps at the chance to cross the galaxy in a heartbeat. But the Great Network is a dangerous place....

©2015 Philip Reeve (P)2016 W F Howes Ltd

Critic reviews

"Philip Reeve is a class act, a marvellously original creator of intelligent and entertaining fictions." (The Guardian)
"You know you are in the hands of a master storyteller when a dangerous yet frivolous fantasy world is brought to life with such imagination that it not only entertains and amuses - it actually seems real." (The Telegraph)

What members say

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  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars

Letting the train take the strain

A brilliant, innovative adventure story for kids (and the middle-aged like myself). Philip Reeve is a master of imagination and this is some of his best work to date.

This story is set in a universe where planets are linked by railways. Not the plodding, choking diesel things of the 20th century but majestic machines that are sentient and emotional. Imagine some of the American streamliners of the 1930s but on a grand scale and you won't go far wrong. These railways lead into K-gates; like Cluedo tunnels that allow the trains to travel between worlds in an instant, much faster than spacecraft.

Add to this feudal politics as rival families control corporations that compete for power over the rail network, Railforce polices the lines with brutal efficiency, and mysterious, ethereal beings, part gods, part computers manipulate everything to maintain the balance.

Into this mix strays a petty thief, a teenager with little prospect, who ends up as the most wanted boy in the universe and the unwitting agent of the secretive Raven.

This is a fantastic rollercoaster of a story that I can't recommend enough, especially now that Audible have fixed the fault where the last chapter was missing.

The sequel, Black Light Express, must be coming to a station near you soon. That's a big hint Audible!

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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One of my favorites

Loved it a lot just as good as when I read the book for the first time hope it come as a movie one day.

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Great story!

A really enjoyable sci-fi story. The author has created an interesting universe and it was brought to life brilliantly by the narrator Malk Williams.

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  • RL
  • Bolton
  • 10-09-17

Unexpected treasure

Never heard of the author or book - was a random recommendation. Gripping, exciting read, just looking for more from the same author. Well read too.

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Wonderful new world created by Philip Reeve

Railhead brings to light a wonderful new world and weaves a tantalising story for the listener to get lost in.