As a fan of Sci Fi and Fantasy fiction I have been interested in reading a China Mieville book for some time, I read the young Adult oriented Unlondon..Show More » and found it too young for me so thought I'd give this one a go which has been well reviewed. I just found it to have no real dramatic thrust and the characters were quite unclear and unengaging to me, the author spends most of the time describing the detail and minutae of the world which I'm sure appeals to some readers but I wanted more attention on the story and characters and ultimately found it disappointing.
Mieville is a literate, imaginative writer and creator of alternate worlds. Picture a baroque, stylized blend of fantasy, steampunk, and dystopian sci..Show More »-fi, the sort of work that might result if Charles Dickens, Neal Stephenson, Philip K. Dick, William Gibson, and Guillermo del Toro decided to collaborate. Mievelle's New Crobuzon is sprawling, grimy city reminiscent of London circa 1890, populated with all kinds of strange races (in addition to humans), each with its own unique physiology, culture, and way of reacting to the techno-magical "modern" world.
Mieville's universe is colorful, messy, and grotesque (if you're weirded out by the human-non-human romance described early on, stop reading), but has a seriousness that makes it engrossing. Characters struggle with relationships, careers, politics, racism, and moral dilemmas, even as they face conspiracies, extra-dimensional monsters, crime bosses, and a police state government. Thrown in are musings on scientific/magic philosophy and machine sentience (though the latter has been handled more interestingly by other authors). There's a lot going on in this book, to say the least. Fans of Neal Stephenson will appreciate all the meta-reflection.
Unfortunately, there's a little too much going on. Towards the end, the intricate plot snowballs under its own momentum, and both characters and themes get buried in the tumult. The last third races through battles and some grandiose, technobabble-heavy confrontations between higher-order beings, before arriving at an oddly deflating epilogue. I can't help but think that Mieville, with a little more editing, might have come up with a last act as involving as the first one, and completed his characters' personal journeys in a more memorable way.
Still, it's an impressive novel, and one that a lot of speculative fiction readers will enjoy for its writing, imagination, and audacious scope.
Damian Lynch couldn't ruin one of my favourite books for me, but he gave it a real go. He stumbles and brachiates through the sentences as if each one..Show More » were a tongue-twister (although, to be fair, it IS Miéville), reading nouns as verbs and verbs as nouns and not really betraying any understanding of what he's reading. Perhaps the most troubling part is that a disturbing number of these errors, even when picked up on and re-read by Mr Lynch, have not been edited out (I counted five untouched gaffes in one unhappy half-hour), possibly due to the soporific monotone in which the story is read. China Miéville is one of my very favourite authors, and I'm quite sad to see Mr Lynch has been further involved in the presentation of his works, not least of all because, of those books, The Scar would seem to be the MOST hospitable to Mr Lynch's tendency to give every character with an accent a Caribbean lilt. Susan Duerden's performance of Embassytown was vastly superior, and I'd hoped I'd get to hear her as Bellis Coldwine. No such luck. Boo.
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 fa..Show More »ntasy 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. .
This book seems to end the trilogy...and it is as fine a piece of literary work as the other two. Mr. Mieville seems to be able to put more imaginati..Show More »on and originality into a paragraph of science fiction than most contemporary writers manage to put into a novel...or an entire series, many of them. Although each novel in this trilogy can easily stand on its own, each one remains linked to the other two, even if the connections are not obvious. Each is well done, with fine characterizations and solid story lines. Each is a bit of a tragedy in its own right. But if they lack "happily ever after" endings, those endings evolve from the realistic interactions of the very human acting characters. Mr. Jackson's narration was first rate.