But Lumbridge lunged for Col again. Taken by surprise, Col took a backward step. His foot hung over empty space – the open manhole!
He tried to grip onto Lumbridge, who staggered. For one second, he stared into Lumbridge’s small, piggy eyes and nostrils trickling blood. He never knew what went on in that second behind those eyes. Was it deliberate or accidental?
Both of Col’s feet now hung over empty space. Lumbridge raised his arms, broke Col’s grip and dropped him down into the hole.
Colbert (Col) has led a sheltered existence. At sixteen years of age he has been cafeully groomed and trained to believe the tales his grandfather tells him about the way society operates. Aboard the huge juggernaut Worldshaker, Col and his family hold privileged positions. Grandfather Sir Mormus is the Supreme Commander, and he has just anointed Col as his successor. Col has no reason to question anything.
But when Col meets a ‘Filthy’ – a girl from the lowest class hidden way beneath decks – he starts to realise that not all is as it appears. Long lead to believe that Filthies are subhuman beings, he realises that they are, instead, very human, and badly mistreated by Col’s people. He also realise that the version of history on which their society is based is also a lie. As he starts to wonder who and what he can trust, Col’s privileged position becomes shaky and he must choose between the life he has had and what he starts to believe might be a better life for all.
Worldshaker is a gripping fantasy, set in a reality which is at once familiar and alien. Worldshaker is a juggernaut which travels the world with its cargo of escapees from a world torn apart by war. The upper classes are determined to maintain their privileged position and there is a very rigid social structure which is accepted as important to the survival of all. Col’s position high within that structure makes him an unlikely candidate to be involved in its overthrow, and the friendship that leads him to this point is riddled with humour and tension, as he comes to understand the ways of the filthies and learn from them.
Likely to appeal to readers aged 13 and over, this is a real page turner.
Worldshaker, by Richard Harland
Allen & Unwin, 2009
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