A mythmaker of the highest order, China Miéville has emblazoned the fantasy novel with fresh language, startling images, and stunning originality. Set in the same sprawling world of Miéville's Arthur C. Clarke Award-winning novel Perdido Street Station, this latest epic introduces a whole new cast of intriguing characters and dazzling creations.
Aboard a vast seafaring vessel, a band of prisoners and slaves, their bodies remade into grotesque biological oddities, is being transported to the fledgling colony of New Crobuzon. But the journey is not theirs alone. They are joined by a handful of travelers, each with a reason for fleeing the city. Among them is Bellis Coldwine, a renowned linguist whose services as an interpreter grant her passage - and escape from horrific punishment. For she is linked to Isaac Dan der Grimnebulin, the brilliant renegade scientist who has unwittingly unleashed a nightmare upon New Crobuzon.
For Bellis, the plan is clear: live among the new frontiersmen of the colony until it is safe to return home. But when the ship is besieged by pirates on the Swollen Ocean, the senior officers are summarily executed. The surviving passengers are brought to Armada, a city constructed from the hulls of pirated ships, a floating, landless mass ruled by the bizarre duality called the Lovers. On Armada, everyone is given work, and even Remades live as equals to humans, Cactae, and Cray. Yet no one may ever leave.
Lonely and embittered in her captivity, Bellis knows that to show dissent is a death sentence. Instead, she must furtively seek information about Armada's agenda. The answer lies in the dark, amorphous shapes that float undetected miles below the waters - terrifying entities with a singular, chilling mission.
China Miéville is a writer for a new era - and The Scar is a luminous, brilliantly imagined novel that is nothing short of spectacular.
©2002 China Mieville (P)2014 Random House Audio
Whether one likes the writing of this author, or not, one has to give Mieville credit for originality. Few writers,, especially the modern crop of fantasy writers, have the gift of owning a genuine imagination. Too many have pedestrian minds or are too lazy to want to make the effort to rise beyond hack status. Fewer still can really take you where they have gone. I found that Mieville made the trip effortless and immensely entertaining, from start to finish. Excellent characterizations. The story pushed along briskly, driven by by genuine human motivation. It moved along quickly but never skipped over those fascinating little side trips.and details which flesh out the author's creation enough to enable the reader suspend his or her reality and live entirely, albeit briefly, in this new place. And, when the ride is over, makes the reader wish he or she could go right back and stay awhile longer. Although I have not greatly liked some things he has written, with this book...and this series...he shows he can create something close to a literary masterpiece. .
I write for myself, for my own pleasure. And I want to be left alone to do it. - Salinger ^(;,;)^
“For every action, there's an infinity of outcomes. Countless trillions are possible, many milliards are likely, millions might be considered probable, several occur as possibilities to us as observers - and one comes true.”
- China Miéville, 'The Scar'
At some point there was an infinite number of possibilitites with this novel. This is the follow up to Perdido Street Station, book 2 in the Bas-Lag/New Crobuzon trilogy. There are chapters and lines and threads of this novel that contained amazing prose, brilliant ideas, funky characters, compelling themes, etc. I loved the motifs and themes China used: possibilities, scars, home, books, politics, community, etc. But there were also just too damn many pages. It could have been edited better. I'm not shy about books over 500 pages, but I don't want to read a 600+ page novel that really is just a fat 400 page novel.
Also, someone (a puissant editor, perhaps?) should have told China to stop using the word puissant (or its variants) and gout (gouts of water, gouts of blood, gouts of pleasure, gouts of relief, gouts of binding energy, gouts of smoke, gouts everywhere; enough gouts to form a trip or a tribe). Unless you are Cormac McCarthy (and there is only one CM) you need to be VERY careful when dropping the word gout casually in a novel. A reader who is paying attention is going to allow a word like gout or puissant to pop up just a few times in a novel that is 600 pages. Once you start dropping it in almost every chapter it practically begs the reader to start snickering or slap their forehead.
Finally, Miéville seemed unembarrassed by his use of steampunk cliches. He seemed to drag every single New Weird/Steampunk cliche into the light and wave it like an ensign. Obnoxious. But still I liked the novel. Hell, there were hours at a time when I REALLY enjoyed it. I devoted a few days to reading it. I loved its potential, and my review is just me letting off some steam (ba dum tss) about it not living up to what I hoped. I will, eventually, read his other books. I just don't feel compelled to read Iron Council tomorrow.
So, I was hoping for another: Perdido Street Station - 5 stars
And I didn't think it was equal to: Embassytown or The City & the City - 4 stars.
For me at least, I felt the same let down after reading Kraken - 4 stars (but maybe 3).
But hell, the guy still has managed to turn out better SF than most. Miéville's bottom stuff (that I've read) is way more compelling than a lot of the genre stuff out there. It was infinitely better than Cherie Priest's Boneshaker. Seriously, I had to bell, book and candle that piece of steampunk garbage. Only time healed those stupid steampunk wounds and I still have the scars.
I'm a big fan of SF/F/Horror, and all things in between and out.
Some books just leave a mark on you. In China Mieville’s The Scar, a character is told “Scars are not injuries…a scar is a healing. After injury, a scar is what makes you whole.” I don’t know whether or not that’s true — or if in the context of the book, Mieville is actually suggesting it’s true. Probably he’s saying it’s a possible truth. Because in this book, every character has their share of scars — be they physical and bloody or emotional and invisible. Sometimes the characters become better for it, and sometimes the characters are broken by them. Whether or not scars make you better or worse, they seem to be defining points in the lives of the characters who inhabit this book. For me, The Scar was a defining point in my reading.
I first encountered The Scar back when it came out almost 15 years ago. I had devoured Perdido Street Station, and was delighted to discover this one. When I discovered audiobooks, I was disappointed I couldn’t find The Scar, because of what it carved out on me. So I was delighted that Random House finally brought it out in the U.S. last year. For those of you who don’t know, The Scar is as wild adventure story as the fantastic and untamed seas that it is set upon. Here be pirates, sea monsters, magic, strange creatures like the Mosquito Women and the Scabmettlers, rogues like the Brucolac and Uther Doel, and heroes like Bellis Coldwine and Tanner Sack.
I’m happy to say that The Scar is an even better book than I remembered it being — where once the ending seemed rushed, I now realize it’s really Mieville’s subversion of popular fantasy tropes, particularly the hero’s quest. In this story, the journey is literally everything. And all the monsters, characters, and crazy-ass worldbuilding he created for this excursion to Bas Lag are as wicked, weird, and intoxicating as ever. I don’t know if I want to live on the floating city that is Armada, but I’d be lying if I said I didn’t want to visit it. What I didn’t remember was how likeable Tanner Sack is (he reminds me a lot of Shadow from American Gods), how perfectly Bellis’s letter works as a coda for this book, and how deep the theme of manipulation runs.
Gildart Jackson had a difficult job bringing all these iconic characters to life. And he does it with aplomb. I’m not quite sure how much I like his interpretation of Uther Doel’s voice, but it was a bold move, and I can understand why he made the choice to read the characters that way. However, his voices for Bellis, Tanner, the Brucolac, Shekel, Silas Fennec, and all the others are perfection, so I’ll take this possible Doel and smile.
I’m happy I took the time to come back to Armada. I’m looking forward to voyaging to Bas Lag again and again, and wearing the scars from this book like trophies.
(Originally posted at the AudioBookaneers)
This is perhaps the most extraordinary fantasy/science fiction novel I have ever encountered. The imaginative richness it contains almost made me angry it's so abundant. Mieville should be considered a national treasure, dammit.
The complexity of the characters is beyond compelling. _The Scar_ is one of those books that can help a reader grow as a human being. Yes, really.
Fantastically Weird Voyage
All Mieville's other stuff, Felix Gilman's Thunderer and Gears of the City, K.J. Bishop's Etched City, Vandermeer's Ambergris stuff, Bennett's City of Stairs, Harkaway's the Gone-Away World, and maybe some Gaiman. As to why, they're all uniquely weird, mysterious, and very well written.
The Bruculac or however it's spelled. And Tanner.
It filled me with wonder stretching my imagination and sketching a fantastic scene.
This is perhaps my favorite Mieville work and I recommend it to anyone that enjoys weird, fantastic fiction stretched about as far as it can be.
The setting and plot deserve all the praise Mr. Mieville typically receives. The primary POV is despicable and not in an interesting way. Sometimes a story has a character who is unlikable but you still appreciate the character in the story and it draws you in because you hate them or are compelled to see what horror they will wrought next; sadly that is not the case here. Bellis Coldwine makes you cringe at every opportunity and I almost stopped the book because she makes the reader/listener hate the experience each time her part is the basis of the narrative (~75% of the time). Mr. Mieville is a better author than I thought because he managed to convince me to continue with the story despite the millennial in New Crobuzon main character.
Christian attorney, businessman, literati, philosopher, and thinker with a thirst for truth, love, laughter, learning and adventure.
I first read Mieville's King Rat, and was so impressed and awestruck by his blend of fable and reality that I was afraid to read another of his works, for fear of disappointment. I was not disappointed by this book. This book is a steam-punk reimagining of Moby Dick and Treasure Island together, maybe.
Note: there is language, violence, and sexual explicitness that make this tale inappropriate for children.
Not as good as the first new crobizon book. not bad though. It was great for probably nine tenths of the story, then the last bit just kind of happens and made it all seem to have been for nothing. I'll still check out the next new crobizon book.
In this novel, China Mieville explores the wider reaches of the complex world he created in Perdido Street Station. The device is Armada, a floating pirate city on a mysterious mission that takes it across the oceans and past many strange lands. Mieville creates a wonderfully rich and complex environment, especially when delineating the political rivalries among the neighbourhoods of Armada. It's not an easy listen as it demands your concentration, and possibly the end doesn't live up to the journey, but it's a majestic journey nonetheless.
The reader is very good, but isn't very skilled at female voices, which is slightly irritating for a novel with a female protagonist...
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