Mayor David Prentiss is the main antagonist of the Chaos Walking Series. He is the Mayor of Prentisstown, and was a major player in leading the settlers against the Spackle. His main goal is to take over New World. In the second book of the series he becomes the self-proclaimed President of New World and the dictator of New Prentisstown.
Prentiss develops a strong connection to Todd Hewitt which, as the series progresses, becomes almost co-dependent. He sees himself as a mentor and father to Todd, wanting nothing more than for the two of them to work side-by-side and for Todd to eventually serve as his sucessor.
The Mayor will be played by Danish actor Mads Mikkelsen in the 2021 movie adaption of Chaos Walking.
About the Mayor[edit | edit source]
Mayor Prentiss is a charming, ruthless, power-hungry sociopath. He is an intellegent, well-spoken man, and has a refined accent far removed from that of everyone else in Prentisstown. He is described as being tall, handsome and always in head-to-toe white, though this changes when he goes to war later in the series, swapping out his pristine white
Before The Series[edit | edit source]
Mayor Prentiss was on the first settler ship to land on New World. In Todd's mother's journal it is mentioned that David may have started out as the humble caretaker of the settler ship. Mayor Prentiss has a son named for himself, Davy Prentiss Jr, further showing his narcissistic nature. Davy is not the mirror image the Mayor wanted, however, and he holds him in little regard due to his impulsive nature and inability to control his noise. Nothing is known of Davy's mother, the Mayor's former spouse.
Along with Jessica Elizabeth and a group of settlers, the Mayor was among those who founded the town of New Elizabeth. After the Spackle War many of the male settlers were driven mad by the Noise, a condition which the women were not susceptible to.
David Prentiss began separating the men from the women, as he would later do in the town of Haven. Led by Mayor Prentiss, the men of New Elizabeth turned on the women of the town, murdering every one of them- their wives, their sisters, their daughters. With their former Mayor dead, David Prentiss set about styling his new domain into Prentisstown.
Over the next thirteen years the Mayor began to develop his skills of controlling noise- his own and that of others- sharing his skills with a select group of trusted followers. It would seem that little attention was payed to his one-year-old son. As the Mayor's powers grew stronger, he became able to use his Noise as a weapon. The phrase "I AM THE CIRCLE AND THE CIRCLE IS ME" is a phrase that is commonly found in Mayor Prentiss' Noise, and he uses it to control his own noise and that of the men around him.
During these years the Mayor designed a ceremony in which boys would become men, which involved them murdering a member of the town who was no longer of use to the Mayor. The ceremony was held on the boys' thirteenth birthday. He also focused on building his army and gathering strength for a future attack upon the rest of New World's settlers, who had banished the men of Prentisstown for their unforgivable crimes.
The Mayor has been waiting until Todd's thirteenth birthday so that his army of men might be complete and he can finally, armed with his soldiers and weapons of both physical and mental strength, march upon New World and bend the entire planet to his will.
In The Series[edit | edit source]
The Knife of Never Letting Go:[edit | edit source]
After Todd Hewitt runs away, the Mayor runs out after Todd and the girl he has seen in Todd's noise. The Mayor proceeds to gather his army and begin his march upon New World.
The Mayor's first appearance is at the bridge leading into the town of Farbranch, where he first encounters Todd and Viola. Viola is able to burn down the bridge with her superior technology, forcing the Mayor and his men to take the long way around. The Mayor is next seen leading an attack upon the innocent village of Farbranch, riding his horse, Morpeth, but not engaging in the fighting himself as he gives orders for the women and children of Farbranch, along with any men who will not join his army, to be gunned down. He revels in the chaos. Todd and Viola escape with Manchee, the only people to get out of Farbranch unscathed, as the horrors in the town continue.
Later on in the book, the Mayor sends his son Davy out after Todd and Viola. Davy is unsuccessful in his mission, though manages to shoot Todd's other adoptive father through the chest and seriously wound Viola. The Mayor isn't seen again until the final chapter, when Todd, carrying a dying Viola in his arms, stumbles into the town of Haven only to find that the Mayor is already there waiting for him, and that Haven was no safe haven after all. He introduces himself as President Prentiss, ruler of New Prentisstown, and welcomes a fearful Todd to his new domain.
The Ask and the Answer:[edit | edit source]
In the second book, the Mayor tortures Todd after having Viola taken away to the houses of healing. Just as Todd thinks that the mayor is about to kill him, the Mayor begins applying bandages to his many wounds, and tells Todd that he has only his best interests at heart.
The Mayor quickly sets about separating the men from the women; women are pulled from their homes and locked away and imprisoned in dormitories, that are specially-built prisons. They are told how to dress and, when permitted to go outside, are allowed only to travel in tight nit groups, watched over by soldiers wherever they go. Mayor Prentiss pays a visit to a still sickly Viola at one of the houses of healing, another building where only women are supposed to be allowed to enter, though stories of soldiers breaking in to dormitories at night and raping the women within soon begin to circulate. Viola is terrified when the Mayor appears, but he talks to her in a gentle manner and even tucks her into bed. Before he leaves, he is insistent that she call him by his first name, David. Viola does so without any resistance, which somewhat disappoints the Mayor.
Some time later, the Mayor puts Todd to work with his son, Davy. Together they are tasked with caring for the Spackle, the indigenous species of New World who the people of Haven have enslaved. The Mayor is impressed with Todd's work ethic and ability to control his emotions, in spite of everything he has been through, and is conversely disappointed in his son, who is loud, rude and impulsive. The Mayor quickly begins to favour Todd over Davy, which leads to growing tensions between the three of them.
A resistance group known as the Answer soon sprouts up to bring down the Mayor's dictatorship and save the women he is oppressing. As a countermeasure the Mayor creates the Ask, an organization dedicated to destroying unrest within the population of Haven. Declaring that it is a necessary measure to monitor the movements of the women who may be acting as terrorists, the mayor declares that all women must be banded with cattle brands, tight silver bands which cut into the skin of their victims and, if ever removed, will cause the wearer to bleed to death. Todd and Davy are tasked with banding the women. It is later revealed that the mayor has had the bands coated with a slow-acting poison which will kill every last female on New World.
More unrest develops within the town. Viola is sent on a covert mission by the leader of the Answer, and tries to save Todd; in the process the Mayor's home, once the city's cathedral, is destroyed, and both Todd and Viola are taken prisoner. The mayor has Viola tortured while Todd is forced to watch, repeatedly drowning her for information that he knows she doesn't have. It is Davy Prentiss who defies his father and saves Viola from a certain death.
The Mayor meets with Todd and Viola in the ruins of the cathedral. Davy arrives to warn his father that there is an attack coming from the army of Answer insurgents, who have gathered their forces and are marching upon the town. In the confusion Todd gets the upper hand over the Mayor, taking Davy's gun as the Mayor points his own at Viola. Apologising for it even as he says the words, Todd tells the Mayor that he will kill his son if he doesn't let Viola go. Almost amused, the Mayor tells Todd to do it.
Davy is heartbroken as the Mayor confesses openly to Todd, saying that he wishes Todd were his son rather than Davy, that Todd is the truer son. Raising his gun, the Mayor shoots Davy himself, killing him with a single shot through the throat. As Davy bleeds out in Todd's arms, he is completely heartbroken, and apologises for everything he's done.
A terrible sound comes from the hills and it is revealed that, as well as the Answer, an army of the indigenous spackle are marching on the town. Knowing that the people of New Prentisstown will be lost without his military prowess, Todd is forced to let the Mayor go, in spite of the horrors he has committed. The Mayor delights in the oncoming slaughter, declaring, "War, at last."
Monsters of Men:[edit | edit source]
In the third book, Mayor Prentiss leads his army into battle against the Spackle. As Todd fights with Davy's gun, he quickly realises that he has no bullets, and the Mayor confesses that his intention was always to send Davy to the front lines with an empty weapon so that he would be killed. The battle is catastrophic, but the Mayor and most of his men make it out alive.
As time passes, Todd and the Mayor become closer. Mayor Prentiss takes the initiative, teaching Todd to read and ensuring he has the best of everything, even sharing with him the powers of his noise, which allows Todd to control men the way that the Mayor can. Prentiss continues to try and recruit Todd, but is instead changed by him. He becomes more moral, regretting some of the crimes he has committed, including murdering his son Davy. He develops a cure for the sickness of the bands and distributes it to all of the surviving women.
Knowing that they can not defeat the spackle single-handedly, the people of New Prentisstown and those who joined the Answer are forced to enter peace talks. A deal is made, and as the Mayor and the leader of the Answer make speeches to the crowds, the Answer's leader detonates a bomb, intending to kill both herself and the Mayor in the blast, knowing that this will be her only chance at defeating the man- with his cure saving the women of the town, the people have begun to embrace him as their leader. Though she dies in the blast, the Mayor is saved by Todd.
Though badly burned, the Mayor is ecstatic that Todd would choose to save him, even though there were others he cared about who were caught up in the blast who he might easily have saved instead. The Mayor begins to blossom, embracing Todd as his new son, convinced that Todd's goodness has begun to shine a light upon his own and make him see the world differently. Todd begins to accept this too, the two of them understanding one another- until suddenly Todd's adoptive father Ben appears, not dead after all, and Todd runs without a moment's hesitation into his arms....
The Mayor becomes murderously jealous after Ben's return. After having Todd help him with the bandages he now wears upon his burned head, the Mayor kills one of his soldiers and hijacks an aircraft, flying it over the Spackle settlement where a peace meeting is taking place and attempting to kill everyone gathered there. He uses his powers of control to order his men to march to the shoreline, where he intends to stage a final battle against the Spackle and any one else who may want to try their luck against him. Arriving at the Ocean with Todd, the Mayor begins to battle with his progeny, each of them using their powers of noise against the other. Physically weakened by his injuries, the Mayor's mental faculties are inhibited and, when Viola arrives and gives Todd the strength he needs, the Mayor is overcome. Using the powers the Mayor has taught him, Todd begins ordering the Mayor to walk backwards into the ocean.
The Mayor asks Todd to stop. He tells Todd that, if he kills him, the two of them will only be more alike. The Mayor admits that he truly has been changed for the better, even if only enough to stop Todd from becoming like him. He finally opens up his Noise, allowing Todd to feel the emptiness of him and revealing that his powers over the Noise had left him so in tune with it that he now hears everything all of the time- every thought, every footstep, every whisper, and he wants nothing more than to just hear nothing. The Mayor confesses to poisoning all of the women but promises that the cure he developed is real and will save them all, including Viola. He then tells Todd that he and Viola will shape this New World for years to come- and tat, frankly, he's glad he won't be around to see it. The Mayor then walks into the waves of the ocean, where he is latched on to by one of the many sea creatures and pulled down beneath the depth to be consumed.