Hester Shaw is one of the main characters of the Mortal Engines series. She appears in all four books.
When she was around seven years old, Thaddeus Valentine attacked her parents, specifically her mother Pandora, in order to obtain MEDUSA. Both her mother and David Shaw, the man Hester thought to be her father, were killed.
Hester disturbed Valentine while he was killing her mother. Flustered, Valentine swung around and struck Hester's face with his sword, causing her to fall back down the stairs and leaving her with scars that would last her entire lifetime.
Confused, she ran away, followed by Valentine's men. Valentine took MEDUSA and left, thinking she was dead. Hester got on her parents' boat and left, hoping to find a doctor. She woke up on the shores of the Great Hunting Ground, where she was found by Shrike, a Stalker. She spent the rest of her childhood living with Shrike aboard a scavenger town.
Pilbeam, accompanied with two slavers from the Shkin Corporation, had Shrike trapped in a net. Hester cut down a festive pine tree, crushing the assailants, and she and Shrike arrived at the Town Hall. They found a warm fireplace and food, and Shrike tried to tell a Midwinter story about a girl with a dog. Noticing his difficulty, Hester reminisced on the day instead. After several years, she left to try to find and kill Valentine.
After several years of searching, Hester finally made it aboard London, where Valentine leads the Guild of Historians, when it ate Salthook. There, Hester tried to stab Valentine, but Tom blocked the blow and chased her through the Gut. In order to escape London's police, she jumped down a waste-chute leading out of the city. Valentine then pushed Tom after her.
After a few days wandering through the Out-Country, a desolate area entirely inhabited by Traction Cities, Hester and Tom came across Speedwell, a tiny scavenger town. The townspeople offered them food and
shelter, only to try and sell them as slaves at a trading cluster. They escaped onto a neighbouring town, Stayns, and met the aviatrix Anna Fang, who took them to Airhaven. When Shrike attacked Airhaven, Hester and Tom fled in a balloon. They spent the next few weeks fleeing from the Stalker Shrike, who had been ordered by Magnus Crome to kill them. She found her way aboard Tunbridge Wheels, a suburb run by the pirate mayor Chrysler Peavey, and then to the Black Island. On the Black Island, Tom managed to kill Shrike just as he was about to kill Hester in order to turn her into a Stalker like himself. Hester lashed out at Tom for this, as she believed that it would be better to become a Stalker and lose her memories and feelings. They were rescued from the Black Island by Anna Fang and other members of the Anti-Traction League.
Miss Fang took them the Shan Guo, the leading nation of the Anti-Traction League. While there, Tom and Hester discovered that Valentine and Magnus Crome, the Lord Mayor of London, were planning to use MEDUSA to invade the lands of the Anti-Traction League. This distressed Tom, but didn't seem to bother Hester. In an unexpected fight with Valentine in Batmunkh Gompa, a city on the edge of Shan Guo, Valentine killed Miss Fang and burned down the Anti-Traction League's Northern Air fleet, leaving them helpless to stop London. He then escaped in his airship back to London, but Hester and Tom decided to pursue him using Miss Fang's Jenny Haniver.
Hester managed to get the airship close to the city by claiming it was London Ship GE47, then parachuted down to London's Top Tier, with the intention of sabotaging MEDUSA. She was soon captured by Magnus Crome's men and taken inside St. Pauls Cathedral, where MEDUSA was installed. Valentine, terrified of this reminder from his past, tried to stab Hester, but his own daughter Katherine threw herself between the sword and Hester. When Katherine fell onto the computer that controlled MEDUSA, she entered a code that caused MEDUSA to self destruct, destroying the whole of London along with it. Hester managed to escape by reaching the Jenny Haniver, which Tom was still piloting. Hester tried to comfort Tom, who was guild-ridden and in shock from killing Valentine's henchmen. As they both realised that they had nothing left but their airship, they began their new life together as air traders.
Hester is first seen in this book with Tom in Airhaven, having returned from a trip around the world, to places such as Nuevo Maya and Antarctica. At the time, Airhaven was sailing over the southern regions of the Ice Wastes. After meeting representatives from Arkangel, Hester, Tom, and their new passenger Pennyroyal were chased from Airhaven by Green Storm airships. In order to outrun them, they flew far too far north, beyond the slightly warmer regions where the Ice Cities roamed. Giving up hope of finding any other airships or cities, Tom and Hester lay down in each other's arms, expecting to die.
However, upon making one last trip outside the cabin, Hester discovered that one city had come this far north. They flew down and docked at the city, Anchorage. Aboard the city, the three new arrivals discovered that Anchorage was heading towards North America, a continent that in the Mortal Engines Quartet is long dead; however, Freya Rasmussen, the city's Margravine, believed that parts of America were still alive. Days later, Hester discovered that Freya had started to fall in love with Tom. As Tom began to develop a friendship with Freya, Hester, believing that Tom would want to be with Freya if she did not do something, took the Jenny Haniver and fled with a plan to get Tom back. She planned to sell Anchorage's location to Arkangel, but not for money. As a price, she demanded that Piotr Masgard allow her to rescue Tom when his men raided Anchorage. After agreeing to the terms of the deal and signing a contract, Hester was knocked out and captured by Widgery Blinkoe, an agent in the pay of the Green Storm, and taken to the Green Storm's northern base at Rogue's Roost.
She was woken by the base's commander Sathya and later taken to a room known as the Memory Chamber. Inside the Chamber, she found the newly Resurrected Anna Fang, who was loved by Sathya. Hester was shocked that Miss Fangs' body had been Resurrected, but Sathya was convinced that she had actually risen Fang from the dead. Hester gave up trying to convince her otherwise, and found out that Sathya wanted to use Hester and her ship to remind Fang of her previous life. This did not work, but Hester remained a prisoner of the Green Storm for about a month while Sathya continuously tried to re-awaken the new Stalker's memories.
Hester was eventually rescued by Tom, who had reached Rogue's Roost with the help of the Lost Boys. The Lost Boys accidentally set off bombs inside the base, unwittingly allowing Hester and Tom to escape. Sathya attempted to kill them on the way out, but was stopped by the Anna Fang. Tom and Hester recovered the Jenny Haniver and flew to Anchorage to try to stop Arkangel from eating it. Aboard the airship, Tom revealed to Hester that Pennyroyal had lied about America's green places, and that Anchorage was heading towards a dead continent after all. After a long moment of silence Hester proceeded to kiss Tom, deciding not to tell him that she had betrayed Anchorage.
When they reached Anchorage, Hester sent Tom to Freya Rasmussen's private museum, where she thought he would be safe. Hester then fought against the Masgard's Huntsmen of Arkangel with the help of Freya and Pennyroyal. She released the imprisoned townspeople, who overpowered their captors, and personally killed Piotr Masgard, stabbing him multiple times. During the fight, Pennyroyal slipped away, shot Tom, and stole the Jenny Haniver, leaving Hester and Tom stranded on Anchorage. Arkangel later ran into thin ice and became stuck, allowing Anchorage to escape. The townspeople were then unsure of what to do next, as Pennyroyal's lies had been exposed and the city was unable to turn back. However, Caul, an exiled Lost Boy, boarded the city and showed the town's Steering Committee how to find small green spaces around the western shore of the continent. Anchorage settled on the green coast of the Dead Continent. During this journey, Tom recovered from his bullet wound, and Hester discovered that she was pregnant. The two lovers agreed to stay on Anchorage for as long as necessary, as they both knew that the Stalker Fang planned to declare war on the Traction Cities.
Hester Natsworthy had now a daughter named Wren.
Hester was about to kill Pennyroyal. She fled into the desert.
A Darkling PlainEdit
Hester was joined by Tom.
Their airship, the Jenny Haniver crashed. She committed suicide, and was laid to rest by Shrike. Her body soon decayed over the years.
Hester has long, copper coloured hair and grey eyes. Valentine describes her as having been a "pretty child". However, she has been extremely disfigured by Valentine's sword attack: a deep scar cuts across her face, twisting her mouth and destroying her nose. She has also lost an eye.
To the onlooker, Hester presents an intimidating persona: angry, hateful, and violent, with a fierce temper. Those who take the trouble to get to know her, such as her friend, lover, and later husband Tom Natsworthy and their mutual friend Anna Fang, realise that this is a facade to disguise the more gentle and shy girl she would have been had life not treated her so badly. However, Hester undeniably feels little or no remorse from killing or injuring others, usually in self-defence or to protect those she loves.
As Hester ages, she becomes harder and does not seem to care for people outside her family. In Predator's Gold, she is willing to betray an entire city to win one person's interest. In A Darkling Plain, she works as an assassin, and what makes her good at the profession is not her skill with weapons, but her ability to kill without remorse.
Her family includes her husband Tom and daughter Wren Natsworthy.
Until Predator's Gold, she believes her parents to be Pandora and David Shaw. Her father, however, is Thaddeus Valentine himself, who had worked with her mother before she married. This makes Katherine Valentine her half-sister.
An old friend of Hester's is the Stalker Shrike, which is somewhat unusual, considering Stalkers are not supposed to have emotions. He regards her as a daughter.