Thursday, January 26, 2017

Book Review: The Scar

China Mieville's second book set in the world of Bas-Lag is the 2004 novel, The Scar, and even though it doesn't take place in the city of New Crobuzon (the setting of his book Perdido Street Station), that city hovers over the majority of this book as both threat and homeland.

The novel follows a translator named Bellis Coldwine, a famous linguist in her own right, who has taken a job on the first available ship out of New Crobuzon's harbor as she is on the run from the government due to the activities of an ex-boyfriend named Isaac Dan der Grimnebulin (the protagonist of Perdido Street Station). The story follows her through her first mission and then the novel switches gears as (sorry for the mild 13-year-old spoiler) her ship is overtaken and she is press-ganged into working and living on a floating city called Armada.

Much of the novel follows her explorations and discoveries on this new city, including its varied rulers, denizens, and culture (here the remade are seen as equal, and sometimes slightly higher than equal, members of society). Much of the book deals with language and literacy and a significant portion is set in a library, so I was quickly sold.

I really love Mieville's ability to populate his novels with a large number of characters all with their own agendas and a consistent interplay of actions, reactions and rules.

A great read and yes, I'll be following it up with his third book in the setting Iron Council, next month.

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