On the cover of Mortal Engines
Hester Shaw
Biographical Information

1026, TE, suicide

Also known as

Hester Natsworthy


Aviatrix, assassin.

Family members

Thaddeus Valentine (father)
Pandora Shaw (mother)
Katherine Valentine (half-sister)
Wren Natsworthy (daughter)
Tom Natsworthy (husband)


Thaddeus Valentine

Physical Description


Behind the scenes

Mortal Engines
Predator's Gold
Infernal Devices
A Darkling Plain

Hester Shaw (sometimes known as Hester Natsworthy) is one of the main characters in the series. She appears in all four books.

Early life Edit

Hester was born on Oak Island, In what was formerly the English West Country. There are no Traction Cities there, so Hester grew up as an Anti-Tractionist (in the world of Mortal Engines , someone who opposes the principle of Municipal Darwinism and believes all cities should stop moving).

 When she was around seven years old, Thaddeus Valentine attacked her parents, specifically her mother, in order to obtain MEDUSA, an extremely powerful weapon. Both her mother and the man who she thought was her father (David Shaw) were 

Family Tree of Hester

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 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 although it was no use. 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 tiny scavenger-town (a Traction Town that looks for various pieces of salvage in the mud of the Hunting Ground to be sold or used as fuel). She left after several years, to try to find and kill Valentine.

Personality Edit

To the onlooker, Hester presents an intimidating persona; angry, hateful, violent and 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 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 in killing or injuring others, usually in self-defence or to protect those she loves.

Hester's personality and violent nature are likely a result of her traumatic and violent childhood rather than a psychopathic disorder, although at times this is uncertain. 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 skill with weapons, but her ability to kill without remorse.

Friends and familyEdit

Her family include her husband and daughter, Tom and 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.

Mortal EnginesEdit

After several years of searching, Hester finally made it aboard London, Valentine's hometown, when it ate Salthook.When Valentine approached the Salthook residents to see if they had anything for his museum before they resettled in London, Hester tried to stab him. Tom blocked the blow, and she was chased through London's Gut, the area where consumed cities were dismantled, by her future lover Tom. 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 


A fan-made picture of Hester Shaw.

shelter, only to try and sell them as slaves at a group of small traction towns known as a trading cluster. They escaped onto a neighbouring town, Stayns, and met the aviator (airship pilot) Anna Fang, who helped them escape, and took them to Airhaven, a city in the sky which serves as a meeting point for aviators. Hester spent the next few weeks fleeing from the Stalker Shrike, who had been ordered to kill her and Tom by the mayor of London. She found her way aboard Tunbridge Wheels, a suburb run by pirates, and then to the Black Island, which was a similar to Oak Island, but more densely populated. On the Black Island, Tom managed to kill Shrike (who was later re-resurrected) And they met up with Anna Fang again, whom they had had to leave to avoid Shrike. Miss Fang took them the Shan Guo, the leading nation of the Anti-Traction League. While there, Tom and Hester discovered the 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. Soon after came an unexpected fight with Valentine in Batmunkh Gompa, a city on the edge of Shan Guo. Valentine killed Miss Fang and burned down Shan Guo'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, the 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 put herself between the sword and Hester. Katherine later died from the wound. Ms. Valentine stumbled back with shock, accidentally falling on MEDUSA'S keyboard (part of it was like a giant computer). This entered a code that caused MEDUSA to self destruct (it wasn't an actual self destruct function, it simply prevented MEDUSA from releasing stored energy, while it still drew in more from what ever source it used), destroying the whole of London along with it. Hester managed to escape by reaching the Jenny Haniver, which Tom was still piloting. As they both realised that they had nothing left but their airship, this began the new life they would lead, as air-traders.

Predator's GoldEdit

Hester is first seen in this book in Airhaven, having returned from a trip around the world, to places such at Nuevo Maya (South America) and Antarctica. At the time, Airhaven was sailing over the southern regions of the Ice Wastes, or Arctic. After meeting representatives from Arkangel, the Ice Wastes' biggest predator, 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 of 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. So they flew down and docked at their saviours' city, which happened to be 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 cities Mayoress, or "Margravine," believed that parts of America were still alive. Days later, Hester discovered that Freya Rasmussen, the cities Mayoress, had started to fall in love with Tom. Jealous, believing that she was no match for Freya, Hester fled the city, with a plan to get Tom back. She planned to sell Anchorages' location to Arkangel, but not for money. As a price, she demanded that they give Tom to her, as he would be aboard Anchorage when Arkangel eats it. The Arkangel representative agreed, thought not without sarcasm towards her unusual price, and Hester searches for somewhere in the city to stay until it eats Anchorage. However, she is captured by an agent of the Green Storm, and taken to their headquarters. Hester later found herself inside Rouges Roost, the northernmost base of the Green Storm. She was woken by the bases' commander, or subaltern, and later taken to a room known as the Memory Chamber. Inside the Chamber, she found the newly Resurrected Anna Fang, who is admired by the subaltern. Hester was shocked that Miss Fangs' body had been Resurrected, but Sathya, the subaltern, is convinced that she has 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 around a month while Sathya continuously tried to re-awaken the new Stalker's memory. Hester was eventually rescued by Tom, who had reached the Green Storm base 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 surprisingly by the Resurrected Anna Fang. Tom and Hester recovered the Jenny Haniver, and flew to Anchorage to try and stop Arkangel 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 procceds to kiss Tom. Wren Natsworthy was probably concieved then too. 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 Huntsmen of Arkangel, the gang of pirates that captured Arkangel's prey and drove it into their city's gut, with Freya and the unwilling help of Pennyroyal. She released the imprisoned townspeople, who overpowered their captors, and personally killed the leader of the Huntsmen, who ironically was the man she sold Anchorage's location to in the first place. During the fight, Pennyroyal slipped away, shot Tom, and stole the Jenny Haniver. Arkangel later ran into thin ice and became stuck, allowing Anchorage to escape. The townspeople were then unsure of what to do next, as everyone by then had found out about Pennyroyal's lies. 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. These green spots the town found, and settled on. During this time Tom recovered from his bullet wound, and Hester discovered that she was pregnant, though Hester telling Tom about this is never featured in any of the books. The two lovers agreed to stay on anchorage for ays long as necessary, as they both knew that the Stalker Fang planned to declare war on the Traction Cities.