Retired librarian, avid reader.
Not only is this an excellent book with regard to the writing and the story, it is one of the best audiobooks that I have ever heard. Susan Duerden narrates magnificently. And the special treatment given in the narration for "Language" is absolutely spot on. Upon finishing, after I caught my breath, I immediately started a second time through. It is an extraordinary listen!
Great Narrator, but this book was so hard to follow. And the craving the Hosts had for a certain thing was not working for me at all. Nor was the relationship between the Hosts and everyone else in the book ever clearly understood. Nor was the whole two-parts to an ambassador thing -- Ez and Ra rather than Ezra. I think this is a book better read than listened to. It is much harder to back up on an audible book than flip back to previous pages when something is confusing which was my entire experience, and I did give it all through Part 1 and through the first third of Part 2. I listen to lots of books and this is the most disorienting book I've listened to.
If it weren't for Audible I'd never get any reading done.
Mieville continues to entertain and provoke with his latest, his first real science-fiction proper. He has scaled down the rather messy ambitions of Perdido St. Station and now keeps his stories relatively simple. This one's set way in the future and has a bit of space opera along with interesting conjectures on the form of alien languages. It's not quite as magnificent as Kraken, but it's an excellent tale. Good reader, too.
Say something about yourself!
I love the themes of this book -- the problem of communication, the nature of language, the relationships among language, thought, and reality -- and the story is vividly written and quite compelling throughout. The timeline of the first part of the book is challenging (especially in audio format) but brilliant. However, there are deep conceptual problems at the heart of the very issues the book tackles. The fiction definitely trumps the science in this one. It is, however, a great book to argue about with others who have read it. The narration is also excellent for the most part, although it does become a bit melodramatic toward the end (although perhaps the prose demands that).
My wife always asks me what I'm reading (listening) and I'm usually not at a loss to tell her what a book is about. This has been the case with all of Mr. Mieville's books so far, and the more so with Embassytown. One good thing about his work is that he doesn't spend any time with set-up. He doesn't go out of his way to explain things... you have to get it from context as the book moves along. Embassytown was rough going at first, but well worth the effort to keep at it.
Having said that, Mieville is one of the most imaginative authors I've read. His command of English is remarkable and he spins a great yarn. This author has a big vocabulary and he's sent me to the dictionary more than once. One small negative: He beats the heck out of the word "palimpsest" in "Perdido Street Station".... but palimpsest is a good word and Mieville uses it very well, every time.
I'm all for creativity in a story, which Mieville does superb, but this story meanders aimlessly. I'm almost halfway through and just hanging on hoping it will get better. Aside from nonexistent action in the vague plot, the author insist on throwing in so much "Embassytown" techno jargon, that I'm often left hoping that eventually the author will reveal things, that usually are left for you to figure out or decipher yourself. The narrator doesn't help much, nor does the fact that it is read with a British accent, making it feel more like a Dr. Who episode.
2 stars for 3 reasons. Though not one of China's best books, the story plot/theme is interesting enough, but it feels like a short story stretched out. Then, for me, the reading is ruined by over-dramatization. I got tired of the dramatic tone she constantly uses for almost every sentence and dialog. And finally, I don't mind a British accent, as I thoroughly enjoyed the reading of The City and the City and even liked Perdido Street Station but the accent of the reader in this story is too far from mainstream and distracting.
This would have been a better book to read.
Like all of his books, there is no explanation for what is happening, but the story is so cleverly constructed that partial understanding soon follows. His stories never end with complete explanations and the lack of full understanding is, in my view, one of the hallmarks of his brand of speculative fiction. The prose quality is excellent and the reader is clear and articulate. Mr Mieville's mind and imagination are, as always, outstanding. This is almost as good as the Scar which I believe to be his best. Great listen, well worth the credit and probably essential to read a couple of times.
I have listened to this book, rapt, within 48 hours. Wonderful, flourished descriptions and practically made for an audiobook experience. Such gorgeous language, narration, and narrative...
The City and the City is absolutely brilliant - one of my all time favorite reads. Perdido Station was unrelenting and pointless grotesquerie and I regret reading it deeply - but I recognize the originality and intelligence of it. This one I can't seem to keep my mind on. I've listened to perhaps a third of it and it's getting kind of painful trying to find any meaning in it. The main character is involved in a marriage with a man she really loves but the sex was so bad they no longer bother with it and get good sex elsewhere and hardly have anything to do with each other. Um, doesn't that make them just friends? She is supposedly an actual piece of another species' language. Um. This should be explained in the beginning. I've read too far into the book and don't understand what that's all about and I no longer care. I guess that's the problem. I don't care about the characters, they don't seem interesting or particularly deserving.