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When the Tripods Came

(The Tripods #0.5)

3.79  ·  Rating details ·  4,044 ratings  ·  218 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, wher ...more
Paperback, 160 pages
Published April 1st 2003 by Simon Pulse (first published 1988)
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Average rating 3.79  · 
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 ·  4,044 ratings  ·  218 reviews

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Ahmad Sharabiani
When the Tripods Came (The Tripods #4), John Christopher
When the Tripods Came is a prequel written twenty years after the publication of the original trilogy. The plot follows the description of the conquest given in the second book of the main trilogy. Fearing the technological potential of humanity, the so-called "Masters", unable to defeat humanity in a conventional war, hypnotise people through a television show called The Trippy Show, later using Caps to control them permanently. As in the
Nov 23, 2011 rated it it was amazing
Now, I have made little secret how The Tripods trilogy is my favourite reading material from when I was but a child. I still love it. This is the prequel, written a while after the original trilogy.

I am always dubious when encountering something, added to something great, at a much later date. However, true to form the author doesn't disappoint. The story of how the Tripods came to Earth is told through the eyes of a young teen, Laurie and his friend, Andy. Once again the characters are well wri
Fits nicely into what I remember of the Tripods trilogy.
But that is as-expected; it should, and does, dovetail -- the author wrote it to inform his readership, and answer the nay-sayers, that the human race could fall to the mind control technology of an alien race -- and yes, it could happen like this, witha deceptive feint into our military strengths and the hidden knife slipping into the chinks in our technology and to our selfish desire for entertainment.
Dec 30, 2010 rated it liked it
The original tripods trilogy was one of my favorite reads as a young adult. This book is a prequel to that trilogy; I have owned it forever and have never read it. So when I found the trilogy (along with this prequel) sitting on my bookshelf I decided to give it another read.

This is a short book but I found it was not as engaging as I remember the trilogy to be. It is a book that basically tells how the tripods came to our world. Overall I agree with the other reviewers that say read the trilogy
Rebecca Radnor
Prequel to the Scifi series that introduced me to Scifi, when I was like 8 or 9 (40 years ago). It's a very short read, well written and kind of terrifying. The invasion of humanity happens very matter of factually. As you're reading it, it all makes so much sense -- and in retrospect you can see its likelihood (assuming any alien race were ever to try to invade us).

That said, read the trilogy first, then read this one.... the order as written, and please remember it's aimed at kids who are too
Sep 30, 2011 rated it liked it
I read this book first because it is the prequel to the other three in the series. As I read this I had to remember that it's a children's book. I think as adults we want every children's book to be as captivating as Harry Potter or Narnia, but that's an unrealistic expectation.

That being said, as an adult I liked this book, but as a 8-10 year old kid I would have loved it. Interesting characters, great twists, believable plot. I bet Ethan would really like it.
Grant Herfindahl
Dec 16, 2014 rated it it was amazing
This book is very important to the Tripod series. It explains what happened during the war with the Tripods. It also told me how the foundations of the free men were formed. If the Tripods invaded Earth we would most likely not be hypnotized by the TV. This was a very good book.
Steve R
Apr 10, 2019 rated it really liked it
An interesting prequel to the author's trilogy of YA novels depicting the response of the human race to the taking over of their planet by aliens from another galaxy. Somewhat anti-climatic as a read since, having read the trilogy, I was aware of how the story is eventually going to unfold, but nonetheless engaging in its description of the ever-expanding and seemingly irresistible powers of the aliens to influence the behaviour of those who were to become their slaves (that is, prior to their b ...more
Harold Ogle
Jan 28, 2012 rated it liked it
Shelves: sf, ya
A nice stand-alone novel that is a prequel to the more-famous "Tripod trilogy." Reading this doesn't really enhance the reading of the Tripod trilogy, but it is a good story in its own right. It's a bit like reading Bujold's Barrayar prequels, Dickson's Dorsai prequels, Moran's Emerald Eyes, or even Asimov's Foundation prequels: they are in no way necessary to the plot of the main series, but they're still fun to read. Christopher is clearly making a statement with this book about how people con ...more
Apr 04, 2015 rated it really liked it
There's only one thing I can say about John Christopher's works, they are awesome! And if he decided not to share his imagination with us the world would have missed so much ...more
Dec 19, 2007 rated it really liked it
This is an excellent prequel to the Tripods trilogy.

BUT: If you have not read the series, PLEASE HEED THIS ADVICE:

Don't read this until after you finish the original trilogy. I know that it says #1 on the spine, and these events happened before the first three books. Ignore that!

It's more fun to be guessing and wondering with the protagonists in the books than to already have all the answers given to you at first. After you finish all three books, it's fun to see all the little questions you m
A good one to learn how the Tripods came. Was close to what I was expecting, a little different. Overall good, not great, series. Nice quick reads.
Francis Franklin
Sep 15, 2018 rated it really liked it
Shelves: science-fiction
Although the centring of television in this tale of alien invasion does date it a little, it takes no effort of imagination to translate the technologies used to our modern world of social media. Indeed, the recent weaponisation of media to sway democratic elections and pursue policies that benefit a tiny fraction of the world's elite at the expense of the rest of humanity is almost more sinister than anything the Tripods do.

Having just read The Massacre of Mankind (Stephen Baxter's sequel to Th
Carl Nelson
3.5 stars. A solid prequel to the Tripods trilogy that traces the roots of humans coming under the control of the alien Tripods. The scenario is believable and frightening, with a gradual separation of society into those "in the know" and the dehumanization of all others. Characters are believable and very relatable for a young adult audience. Quick read that could stand alone, but is more a story that enhances the main trilogy. ...more
Sep 19, 2017 rated it did not like it
In my opinion, I believed that this was one of my least favorites. At most points of the book, the reader could not understand what he or she was reading. It was confusing, and did not follow a timeline, making it even more the complicated. The only reason why I rated it 1 star was because of the cover illustration. Although the author had a terrible plot, the illustrator at least knew what he or she was doing. In my opinion, I did not like this book. However, I would recommend it if you are int ...more
Written well after the original series, it's a non-essential expansion of the brief explanation of the Tripods' conquest as provided in City of Gold and Lead, plus an explanation of how the White Mountains were founded. Short and engaging, with a Body Snatchers type of horror as civilization crumbles to dust in a matter of months. ...more
Oct 16, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Awesome! 😍
May 27, 2021 rated it really liked it
My 4th grade teacher read this to us, and I just remembered enough to look it up. Maybe some time I should look for this book, along with the trilogy.
Evelyn Woagh
Nov 10, 2014 rated it really liked it
I originally read the tripods series many years ago, during my adolescent on-again off-again love of books. This was during an on-again, when I fantastically wondered at the possibilities of a scifi story starring folks around my age. It was wonderful, but I'm reading the series again to see how I feel about it now, and remind myself more of the story. I'm starting with the prequel this time, whereas I originally started with the 'first' one in the trilogy. I recall originally being disappointed ...more
Sean Meriwether
Oct 04, 2010 rated it it was ok
Shelves: sci-fi, young-adult
When I was a mere lad I was introduced to John Christopher by way of The White Mountains. I instantly related to the young boys who escaped being capped by aliens, which would make them like everyone else. They risked life and limb to cross a dystopian Europe to escape that fate. I reread it as an adult and saw their flight from “normality” in my own escape from rural NJ to New York to live life on my own terms as a gay man, a reading that Christopher probably never foresaw. I was curious to rea ...more
Robert Beveridge
John Christopher, When the Tripods Came (Dutton, 1988)

This prequel to the Tripods Trilogy, written two decades after the original books, is decent enough, but it certainly doesn't measure up to the three books that preceded it (chronologically) in the series.

Laurie, a British teen, is one of the first in the world to see the Tripods while on an orienteering trip with a friend. The initial tripod, after causing a bit of destruction, is swiftly brought down by the local armed forces. The intellig
Jamie Dacyczyn
May 09, 2011 rated it really liked it
It's been a while since I've reread this Tripods prequel (I don't think I included it on my last reread of the trilogy), so I didn't actually remember a lot of the plot aside from some key points.

Overall, a little too short and prequel-ish to feel like there's a lot of character development or complex plotting. You ultimately KNOW where things are going to end up; this is just there to answer the how and why.

I feel like John Christopher must have heard some (totally justified) criticism for his
Jennifer Wardrip
Reviewed by Kira M for

Something is not right in England.

Laurie's little sister recently started watching a show called Trippies. One day, she disappears. When they bring her back, all she can talk about is peace and Tripods, an alien race bent on bringing peace to Earth. Although they manage to dehypnotize her, people all over start disappearing and showing up with helmets that allow the Tripods to control their brains.

Soon the whole world is conquered by this strange alien race
Oct 27, 2018 rated it liked it
Pretty good. Easier to read than the others in the series.

Interesting in the preface the interview about the series being misunderstood by filmmakers who didn't know what technological limits there actually were in the '60s when it was written. John makes up for this in the '80s when this was written which ironically dates it more so with '80s technology! That's ok, though, and that interview was just another example of why I usually always prefer a book over the movie as so many movies have ru
Dec 31, 2011 rated it really liked it
For a prequel, this one is very well done. It's amazingly creepy and simple how the tripods are able take over most of the world. I also love how a little group of humans fight to keep their freedom, and it lays a perfect foundation for the original tripod series. What is so genuinely scary about the tripod series is how viable the method the tripods used to take control are. These books are just as fun to read as they were the first time I read them in college.

I read these again- it’s so fun! J
Christian Saghi
Jun 03, 2012 rated it really liked it
I chose this book because my dad recommended it to me. Laurie and his friend Andy are the first to witness a Tripod come to earth. In this book Laurie goes with his family to escape the Tripods so they will not be capped and eventually find shelter where the Tripods don't come. My favorite quote from the book is "I wondered about those who would come after-if maybe one day three like us would lie on this hillside in the sun, watching butterflies as we were doing, but able also to look towards a ...more
Dec 20, 2012 rated it really liked it
When the Tripods Came, the prequel to the Tripods series, is a fantastic sci-fi masterpiece written by John Christopher. It is the story of Laurie, a boy who lives a pleasant life. That is, until the Tripods arrive on Earth. Soon after the Tripods' arrival, people all over the world begin "Tripping"; they become the Tripods' mindless followers. Laurie must work with his family as well as his best friend, Andy, to defy the tyrannical menace of the Tripods and restore free will amongst the humans. ...more
Nov 12, 2009 rated it liked it
This was a very good book. I enjoyed it alot, however I didn't think it was as strong as the other three in the series.

"As Pa said, censorship encouraged people to believe nonsense."

"I wanted to ask which war---the Boer or the Crimean? It was amazing how old people could talk about The War, as though that meant something."

"The peace and harmony Uncle Ian and the others claimed to be handing out in fact was death, because without being yourself, an individual, you weren't really alive."
D.M. Kilgore
Dec 28, 2013 rated it really liked it
This isn't my typical genre, but my son loves this kind of thing, so I bought them for him and we read them together. I ended up liking it quite a lot! Creatively crafted, this adventurous sci-fi series is a bit scary, but not enough so to keep us from finishing the series. I found it to be rather brilliant and was excited to complete the series. It might be a bit too mature in parts for my ten year old, but he's mature in many ways for his age, so it worked out. I think I'd recommend it to the ...more
4th published prequel.

Even though the events of this story precede those in The White Mountains I still suggest readers read this series in published order, starting with The White Mountains.
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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, cric

Other books in the series

The Tripods (4 books)
  • The White Mountains (The Tripods, #1)
  • The City of Gold and Lead
  • The Pool of Fire

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