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The White Mountains

(The Tripods #1)

3.94  ·  Rating details ·  11,296 ratings  ·  841 reviews
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
Paperback, 195 pages
Published April 2003 by Simon & Schuster Simon Pulse (first published April 1967)
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Michele When I was in third grade (many, many moons ago), we were assigned a book report and the whole class made the trek down the hall to the school…moreWhen I was in third grade (many, many moons ago), we were assigned a book report and the whole class made the trek down the hall to the school library. This was the book I chose and it quite literally changed my life. I had always liked books and had learned to read quite early, but this was the book that turned me into a reader. I'm pretty sure I've reread the entire series at least twenty times over the years. So much love for these characters.(less)
Cassedy Burns Great bbc series! Special effects are obviously not up to modern expectations but if you liked the book the mini series will not disappoint. I wish…moreGreat bbc series! Special effects are obviously not up to modern expectations but if you liked the book the mini series will not disappoint. I wish they finished the books, the mini series does not include last book I believe.(less)

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Average rating 3.94  · 
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Ahmad Sharabiani
The white mountains (The Tripods #1), John Christopher
The Tripods is a series of young adult novels written by John Christopher, beginning in 1967.
The White Mountains, Life goes on largely as it had in the pre-industrial era, excepting that all adult humans are subject to Tripod control. Protagonist Will, a thirteen-year-old boy living in the (fictional) English village of Wherton, is looking forward to the next "Capping Day", until a chance meeting with a mysterious fake-capped man named
A splendidly written science fiction yarn aimed at the lads and lasses but with enough clever going for it to appeal to older more seasoned readers as well. This is the second novel by John Christopher that I've had the pleasure of consuming and this gent certainly has the prose chops to spin a ripsnorter of a story. My previous experience, the dark, disturbing and fantabulous The Death of Grass), is one of the more under-appreciated apocalyptic SF books I have come across and I HIGHLY RECOMMEND ...more
Jan 31, 2017 rated it liked it
John Christopher’s influential and fun as a zombie-at-a-Mensa-party 1967 novel is a fantastic YA success.

Telling the post-apocalyptic story of a 13 year old in a world where alien tripod monsters (reminiscent of HG Wells The War of the Worlds creatures) control every aspect of human culture and keep us subjugated by means of a “capping” brain implant at the age of 14, Christopher spins an imaginative and timeless tale of adventure and perseverance.

Our protagonist Will notices he’s a little
May 08, 2011 rated it liked it
I read this book when I was about 10, but there's a moment near the beginning that's really stayed with me. It's one of those stories where Earth has been enslaved by alien overlords. There are, however, a few bright points in their miserable existences, and one of these is the annual games, where young athletes compete in a kind of Olympics to pick out the fastest and strongest.

The hero and his best friend are competing. They're both top jocks. They're pretty much certain that they'll win and
May 09, 2015 rated it really liked it
Tripods are cool, imagine these fearsome engines stomping around your neighborhood. They are not very practical though are they? Three legs don’t seem to be a very stable locomotive arrangement. The aliens came from light years away can they not spring for some aircrafts or something on wheels? At least double the number of legs for God’s sake!

When I first heard of this series I thought it was some kind of unofficial sequel to Wells’ awesome classic The War of the Worlds. Well, now I know it is
Apr 03, 2009 rated it really liked it
This is a little embarrassing to admit, but I've been reading a lot of YA fantasy/SF novels aloud to my husband while he paints his new 40k army. I guess if you're going to dork out and regress, it might as well be all the way. So I pulled this novel out of the vaults--my fifth grade English teacher assigned it as part of an inspired introduction to genre fiction unit. This was our introduction to science fiction. I blame her for launching a number of excessively awkward adolescences. Anyway, ...more
Amy Sturgis
This young adult dystopian science fiction novel (the first of a trilogy, followed by a prequel) is considered to be a classic, and it's easy to see why. The Tripods (machines? living beings? robots gone wrong? aliens from another world?) rule over the post-apocalyptic Earth, keeping humans in their (faux-medieval) place by means of "capping" them at puberty: that is, surgically implanting metal helmet-like contraptions on people to keep them docile and content. Young Will, the protagonist, ...more
Bob Redmond
Feb 21, 2009 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: young-adult
One of the best Young Adult authors ever, John Christopher, kicks of his masterwork trilogy with this book about a retro-future in which the world has been colonized by Tripods. Three boys, before undergoing the coming-of-age transformations of Capping Day (incidentally, this has to be the namesake of the Seattle band, remember them?), run away. Will they make it before the tripods find and brainwash them?

It's amazing how much Scott Westerfeld's PRETTIES has borrowed from this series--not that
After being immensely impressed by The Death of Grass by John Christopher, I decided to start his "Tripods" series right away.

Although the primary target for this series are the readers in the young-adult category, it is so unlike today's young-adult books where the post-apocalyptic/dystopian scenario just serves as an inconsequential and poorly developed background for a cheesy romance between hormonally charged teens.

The White Mountains introduces us to the thirteen year old teen protagonist,
Leona  Carstairs
This series has both a good plot and good writing, but personally, I thought the characters lacked and were not interesting enough to make me love the Tripods Trilogy. I did enjoy it, and my favorite installment was the prequel, titled WHEN THE TRIPODS CAME. I also really liked the last book. Overall I would recommend if you enjoy children's sci-fi. It was fairly good.
Jackie "the Librarian"
Sep 21, 2007 rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: adventure loving boys
I was in 6th grade, had just moved to the Seattle area, and was as unhappy as an uprooted, adolescent girl living under perpetually gray skies can be - but this book, read to my class by the teacher, showed me that, hey, it could be worse! I could be on the run, hunted by aliens in giant tripods who wanted to control my brain with a metal cap device on my head. It gave me perspective, you know?
A great introduction to real SF for kids.
Given the time this book was written and target audience it could be a 4 star.
The idea certanly gets 5 though.
Jonathan Terrington
These books are precious to me. But not the type of precious that requires a little hobbit to come along to my lair in my misty mountain hideout and steal them away, take them across some deserts and throw them into some smoking volcanic mountain. No these are precious for childhood reasons.

I first discovered the pleasure of reading through the power of the Chronicles of Narnia. My mother had a small bookshelf on which was kept all her favourite childhood books and as I learnt to read those were
Philippa Dowding
I've been cleaning my way through my office. Last week I scored: Way at the bottom of the bookshelf, deeply hidden, was this book AND the rest of the trilogy. The originals from my childhood! I absolutely loved this series as a child, I read it at about 11, and I couldn't wait to re-read it this weekend. I'm happy to say the story held up for me, and not just because of nostalgia. A favourite book is a very delicate memory thread to your childhood self. I remembered most of it, had brain-tingly ...more
Erik Graff
Aug 09, 2012 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: sf fans
Recommended to Erik by: Dorothy Gregory
Shelves: sf
There seems to be some complexity to the Tripod novels and stories written by Christopher (actual name, Samuel Youd). Whatever their order, this book stands by itself as one a reader can begin with, without worrying about what may have been set or composed earlier. It does not, however, tell a full story. The City of Gold and Lead (1967) and The Pool of Fire (1968) complete this particular tale.
While ordinarily regarded as a young adult novel, I did not feel patronized. The protagonist and his
Tina ➹ the girl who lives in Fandoms (Book.Enchantress)
4 Silver Stars
Golden Sparks


Aliens sci- fiction, don't you love it? who rule the Earth. Dystopian & post-apocalyptic. the 1st Dystopia I read, years ago. (it was 2006 I guess, & at that time I didn't know Dystopia is a genre.)
such a great story. (tho my favourite in the series is the 2nd book, The City of Gold and Lead)
full of surprises, rebellion & nice characters.
2019: It's been a while I've re-read it (maybe 9 years, I have no idea.) probably soon I will re-read it. I missed it.
I read this as a child and vividly remember certain particularly fraught scenes but not the overall plot. I read it again yesterday in one sitting.

This book doesn't age at all -- it just as fresh and readable and compelling as it must have been in 1967 when it was first published. The narrator is young Will Parker, still a child, not yet initiated into adulthood via the mysterious "capping" ceremony, where the child is taken briefly away by towering metal creatures called Tripods and fitted with
Somehow missed this series when I was a kid; really enjoyed this author's The Death of Grass and thought the prequel novel was pretty good too.

Teen Will lives in a world that has regressed considerably due to the foreign influence of the Tripods. In a society without serious science or decent propulsion, Will is certain of only one thing - he doesn't want to be "Capped". Nobody in this book knows what the caps do, but they suspect an unswerving loyalty to the overlord aliens.

Will escapes to the
An intriguing beginning, a boring adventure, a rushed, disempowering ending (in particular, I have in mind this sentence in the last paragraph: (view spoiler)).

Also, I didn’t really care for any of the characters and kinda disliked the
Aaron Vincent
Sep 28, 2010 rated it liked it
Shelves: dystocalypse, scifi
Also posted here.

This is not included on my book pool but I’ve decided to start my YA-D2 adventure with one of the oldest Young Adult Dystopia fiction there is. I figured that if we really want to explore the ya dystopia genre, we must trace its roots by reading the first books that is published under the genre. John Christopher’s White Mountains, without a doubt, influenced a lot of dystopian novels being published recently. I think that dystopian authors, even if they haven’t read this, owes a
May 09, 2011 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: post-apocalyptic
This is the first of my favourite set of books from when I was a child. The books and the TV serials are wonderful memories for me that I like to relive from time to time.

The reason for the current re-read was that they were discussed on Twitter. Myself and Kiraniumbra convinced Jacob and Karode to read the books and watch the tv series. With strict advice to read the books first. It tweaked me into re-reading them myself. So off I went to pick the trilogy and the prequel from my parents' house.
The White Mountains is a Young Adult Dystopian novel which most likely inspired a lot of the current YA Dystopian novels, although I think it itself probably owes quite a bit to The Chrysalids and obviously The War of the Worlds. The book follows the journey of a group of boys as they leave their small town and head to the eponymous White Mountains. Their journey is inspired by the upcoming capping day in which they would have small caps put on the backs of their head making them obedient and ...more
Apr 12, 2011 rated it it was ok
Shelves: sf, ya
This is the most affect-less YA novel I've ever read. The tone is so remarkably even-keeled; none of the potential disasters last long enough to be frightening; and then disaster is avoided every time. I didn't dislike it -- it's a pleasant enough read, and quick, and at first I found the even tone charming, until it became clear that it was going to remain precisely the same throughout the entire book. I don't understand its enduring popularity, especially in contrast to the much more emotive ...more
Baal Of
Oct 05, 2011 rated it it was amazing
I read this in 4th grade and absolutely loved it
Sherile Reilly
May 22, 2017 rated it really liked it
The White Mountains by John Christopher
When this book was suggested to me by the school librarian, I wasn’t exactly thrilled about doing it as a novel study for my sixth grade students and the beginning impressed me even less. The protagonist talked about his father’s watch. How was I ever going to get my students to buy into a novel with such a boring beginning?
However, the librarian persevered and once I got into the story, with my students, I really liked it and so did they.
The story is set
Mitchel Broussard
While the premise, set about 100 years in the future where giant three legged machines, the Tripods, control every human on the planet, may seem familiar, the execution is wholly original. What i loved about this set up is that Christopher didn't just go with the normal now-all-of-humanity-is-living-in-fear trope, but the entire other direction. Humans worship the Tripods. They have no choice.

The world is basically in a new Middle Age, with Kings, Nobles, and Knights. Will's village is more
Oct 26, 2011 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Title: The White Mountains
Author: John Christopher
Setting: Futuristic Europe
Story Summary: Sometime in the near future the world is ruled by Tripods. All children are “capped” at the age of 14 when they have a metal cap grafted to their heads and they come under control of the tripods. Will and his Cousin Henry don’t want to be capped so they travel across Europe to go to a new land where there are supposedly no tripods. When they cross the ocean they meet a boy named Jean-Paul who loves to
May 23, 2009 rated it really liked it
Shelves: boys, scifi
The White Mountains is the first of a classic children’s science fiction trilogy that was first published in the 1960’s. In The White Mountains, humans live quaint and old fashioned lives in the shadows of the Tripods, large, mechanical beings who rule above humans. Will, age 13, realizes that he does not want a part in the capping process, a creepy and ceremonial event that is required for all villagers at the age of 14. He realizes that those who have been capped obey the Tripods without ...more
Jennifer Wardrip
Reviewed by Kira M for

Centuries ago, the Tripods took over Earth and enslaved mankind. Every human wears a helmet made of metal that makes it so they are controlled by the Tripods. There is a period of time in one's childhood, however, where one is free to think for oneself.

When thirteen-year-old Will is told that there is a place in the mountains where there are people free of the Tripods, he decides he doesn't want to be capped and runs away. Along the way, he is joined by a
When my librarian in 6th grade, Mr. Rogers, gave this book to me, it completely captured my imagination. It introduced me to science fiction. It made me want to read the sequel RIGHT NOW. And I haven't read it since then. I was trying to decide what to book talk to elementary and middle schoolers this summer, and I thought -- well, why not do the book that made me excited about reading when I was a kid?

Reading this again was kind of a surreal experience, because it made me realize that I
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Sam Youd was born in Huyton, Lancashire in April 1922, during an unseasonable snowstorm.

As a boy, he was devoted to the newly emergent genre of science-fiction: ‘In the early thirties,’ he later wrote, ‘we knew just enough about the solar system for its possibilities to be a magnet to the imagination.’

Over the following decades, his imagination flowed from science-fiction into general novels,

Other books in the series

The Tripods (4 books)
  • When the Tripods Came
  • The City of Gold and Lead
  • The Pool of Fire
“If one is seeking reasons for disloyalty, it is useful to find something one can resent.” 4 likes
“...nothing was of value, without a mind that challenged and inquired.” 1 likes
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