The Scar (New Crobuzon Series #2)

The Scar (New Crobuzon Series #2)

by China Mieville

Paperback(Mass Market Paperback - Reprint)

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Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780345460011
Publisher: Random House Publishing Group
Publication date: 06/29/2004
Series: New Crobuzon Series , #2
Edition description: Reprint
Pages: 608
Product dimensions: 6.68(w) x 4.26(h) x 1.02(d)

About the Author

China Miéville was born in London in 1972. When he was eighteen, he lived and taught English in Egypt, where he developed an interest in Arab culture and Middle Eastern politics. Miéville has a B.A. in social anthropology from Cambridge and a master’s with distinction from the London School of Economics. His first novel, King Rat, was nominated for both an International Horror Guild Award and the Bram Stoker Prize. Perdido Street Station won the Arthur C. Clarke Award and was nominated for a British Science Fiction Association Award. He lives in England.

Read an Excerpt

It is only ten miles beyond the city that the river loses its momentum, drooling into the brackish estuary that feeds Iron Bay.

The boats that make the eastward journey out of New Crobuzon enter a lower landscape. To the south there are huts and rotten little jetties, from where rural laborers fish to supplement monotonous diets. Their children wave at travelers, warily. Occasionally there is a knoll of rock or a small copse of darkwood trees, places that defy cultivation, but mostly the land is clear of stones.

From the decks, sailors can see over the fringe of hedgerow and trees and bramble to a tract of fields. This is the stubby end of the Grain Spiral, the long curl of farmland that feeds the city. Men and women can be seen among the crops, or plowing the black earth, or burning the stubble—depending on the season. Barges putter weirdly between fields, on canals hidden by banks of earth and vegetation. They go endlessly between the metropolis and the estates. They bring chymicals and fuel, stone and cement and luxuries to the country. They return to the city past acres of cultivation studded with hamlets, great houses, and mills, with sack upon sack of grain and meat.

The transport never stops. New Crobuzon is insatiable.

The north bank of the Gross Tar is wilder.

It is a long expanse of scrub and marsh. It stretches out for more than eighty miles, till the foothills and low mountains that creep at it from the west cover it completely. Ringed by the river, the mountains, and the sea, the rocky scrubland is an empty place. If there are inhabitants other than the birds, they stay out of sight.

Bellis Coldwine took her passage on an east-bound boat in the last quarter of the year, at a time of constant rain. The fields she saw were cold mud. The half-bare trees dripped. Their silhouettes looked wetly inked onto the clouds.

Later, when she thought back to that miserable time, Bellis was shaken by the detail of her memories. She could recall the formation of a flock of geese that passed over the boat, barking; the stench of sap and earth; the slate shade of the sky. She remembered searching the hedgerow with her eyes but seeing no one. Only threads of woodsmoke in the soaking air, and squat houses shuttered against weather.

The subdued movement of greenery in the wind.

She had stood on the deck enveloped in her shawl and watched and listened for children’s games or anglers, or for someone tending one of the battered kitchen gardens she saw. But she heard only feral birds. The only human forms she saw were scarecrows, their rudimentary features impassive.

It had not been a long journey, but the memory of it filled her like infection. She had felt tethered by time to the city behind her, so that the minutes stretched out taut as she moved away, and slowed the farther she got, dragging out her little voyage.

And then they had snapped, and she had found herself catapulted here, now, alone and away from home.

Much later, when she was miles from everything she knew, Bellis would wake, astonished that it was not the city itself, her home for more than forty years, that she dreamed of. It was that little stretch of river, that weatherbeaten corridor of country that had surrounded her for less than half a day.

In a quiet stretch of water, a few hundred feet from the rocky shore of Iron Bay, three decrepit ships were moored. Their anchors were rooted deep in silt. The chains that attached them were scabbed with years of barnacles.

They were unseaworthy, smeared bitumen-black, with big wooden structures built precariously at the stern and bow. Their masts were stumps. Their chimneys were cold and crusted with old guano.

The ships were close together. They were ringed with buoys strung together with barbed chain, above and below the water. The three old vessels were enclosed in their own patch of sea, unmoved by any currents.

They drew the eye. They were watched.

In another ship some distance away, Bellis raised herself to her porthole and looked out at them, as she had done several times over the previous hours. She folded her arms tight below her breasts and bent forward toward the glass.

Her berth seemed quite still. The movement of the sea beneath her was slow and slight enough to be imperceptible.

The sky was flint-grey and sodden. The shoreline and the rock hills that ringed Iron Bay looked worn and very cold, patched with crabgrass and pale saline ferns.

Those wooden hulks on the water were the darkest things visible.

Bellis sat slowly back on her bunk and picked up her letter. It was written like a diary; lines or paragraphs separated by dates. As she read over what she had last written she opened a tin box of prerolled cigarillos and matches. She lit up and inhaled deeply, pulling a fountain pen from her pocket and adding several words in a terse hand before she breathed the smoke away.

Skullday 26th Rinden 1779. Aboard the Terpsichoria It is nearly a week since we left the mooring in Tarmuth, and I am glad to have gone. It is an ugly, violent town.

I spent my nights in my lodgings, as advised, but my days were my own. I saw what there was to the place. It is ribbon-thin, a strip of industry that juts a mile or so north and south of the estuary, split by the water. Every day, the few thousand residents are joined by huge numbers who come from the city at dawn, making their way from New Crobuzon in boat- and cartloads to work. Every night the bars and bordellos are full of foreign sailors on brief shore leave.

Most reputable ships, I am told, travel the extra miles to New Crobuzon itself, to unload in the Kelltree docks. Tarmuth docks have not worked at more than half-capacity for two hundred years. It is only tramp steamers and freebooters that unload there—their cargoes will end up in the city just the same, but they have neither the time nor the money for the extra miles and the higher duty imposed by official channels.

There are always ships. Iron Bay is full of ships—breaking off from long journeys, sheltering from the sea. Merchant boats from Gnurr Kett and Khadoh and Shankell, on their way to or from New Crobuzon, moored near enough Tarmuth for their crews to relax. Sometimes, far out in the middle of the bay, I saw seawyrms released from the bridles of chariot-ships, playing and hunting.

The economy of Tarmuth is more than prostitution and piracy. The town is full of industrial yards and sidings. It lives as it has for centuries, on the building of ships. The shoreline is punctuated with scores of shipyards, building slipways like weird forests of vertical girders. In some loom ghostly half-completed vessels. The work is ceaseless, loud, and filthy.

The streets are crisscrossed with little private railways that take timber or fuel or whatever from one side of Tarmuth to the other. Each different company has built its own line to link its various concerns, and each is jealously guarded. The town is an idiotic tangle of railways, all replicating each other’s journeys.

I don’t know if you know this. I don’t know if you have visited this town.

The people here have an ambivalent relationship with New Crobuzon. Tarmuth could not exist a solitary day without the patronage of the capital. They know it and resent it. Their surly independence is an affectation.

I had to stay there almost three weeks. The captain of the Terpsichoria was shocked when I told him I would join him in Tarmuth itself, rather than sailing with him from New Crobuzon, but I insisted, as I had to. My position on this ship was conditional on a knowledge of Salkrikaltor Cray, which I falsely claimed. I had less than a month until we sailed, to make my lie a truth.

I made arrangements. I spent my days in Tarmuth in the company of one Marikkatch, an elderly he-cray who had agreed to act as my tutor. Every day I would walk to the salt canals of the cray quarter. I would sit on the low balcony that circled his room, and he would settle his armored underbody on some submerged furnishing and scratch and twitch his scrawny human chest, haranguing me from the water.

It was hard. He does not read. He is not a trained teacher. He stays in the town only because some accident or predator has maimed him, tearing off all but one leg from his left side, so that he can no longer hunt even the sluggish fish of Iron Bay. It might make a better story to claim that I had affection for him, that he is a lovable, cantankerous old gentleman, but he is a shit and a bore. I could make no complaints, however. I had no choice but to concentrate, to effect a few focus hexes, will myself into the language trance (and oh! how hard that was! I have left it so long my mind has grown fat and disgusting!) and drink in every word he gave me.

It was hurried and unsystematic—it was a mess, a bloody mess—but by the time the Terpsichoria tied up in the harbor I had a working understanding of his clicking tongue.

I left the embittered old bastard to his stagnant water, quit my lodgings there, and came to my cabin—this cabin from where I write.

We sailed away from Tarmuth port on the morning of Dustday, heading slowly toward the deserted southern shores of Iron Bay, twenty miles from town. In careful formation at strategic points around the edge of the bay, in quiet spots by rugged land and pine forests, I spotted ships. No one will speak of them. I know they are the ships of the New Crobuzon government. Privateers and others.

It is now Skullday.

On Chainday I was able to persuade the captain to let me disembark, and I spent the morning on the shore. Iron Bay is drab, but anything is better than the damned ship. I am beginning to doubt that it is an improvement on Tarmuth. I am driven to bedlam by the incessant, moronic slap of waves.

Two taciturn crewmen rowed me ashore, watching without pity as I stepped over the edge of the little boat and walked the last few feet through freezing surf. My boots are still stiff and salt-stained.

I sat on the pebbles and threw stones into the water. I read some of the long, bad novel I found on board. I watched the ship. It is moored close to the prisons, so that our captain can easily entertain and converse with the lieutenant-gaolers. I watched the prison-ships themselves. There was no movement from their decks, from behind their portholes. There is never any movement.

I swear, I do not know if I can do this. I miss you, and New Crobuzon.

I remember my journey.

It is hard to believe that it is only ten miles from the city to the godsforsaken sea.

There was a knocking at the door of the tiny cabin. Bellis’ lips pursed, and she waved her sheaf of paper to dry it. Unhurriedly she folded it and replaced it in the chest containing her belongings. She drew her knees up a little higher and played with her pen, watching as the door opened.

A nun stood in the threshold, her arms braced at either side of the doorway.

“Miss Coldwine,” she said uncertainly. “May I come in?”

“It’s your cabin too, Sister,” said Bellis quietly. Her pen spun over and around her thumb. It was a neurotic little trick she had perfected at university.

Sister Meriope shuffled forward a little and sat on the solitary chair. She smoothed her dark russet habit around her, fiddled with her wimple.

“It has been some days now since we became cabin-mates, Miss Coldwine,” Sister Meriope began, “and I do not feel . . . as if I yet know you at all. And this is not a situation I would wish to continue. As we are to be traveling and living together for many weeks . . . some companionship, some closeness, could only make those days easier . . .” Her voice failed, and she knotted her hands.


Excerpted from The Scar by China Mieville Copyright 2002 by China Mieville. Excerpted by permission of Del Rey, a division of Random House, Inc. All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.

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The Scar 4.1 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 90 reviews.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I LOVED Perdido Street Station so picking up The Scar was exciting for me. A wonderfully well written novel with engaging action and characters. A bit long, though, so one must enjoy the pace of a steady novel.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Not one of his best, but still one of the better modern fantasy novels you can read
dalnewt More than 1 year ago
This book is a work of fantasy art. It features cinematic descriptions, haunting aquatic imagery, intricate passages of prose and a thoroughly engrossing story. The main characters are complex, three-dimensional individuals. The plot encompasses themes of desperation, intrigue, betrayal, terror, love and loss. The narrative primarily follows the experiences of Bellis Coldwine, an appealing, sarcastic, cigarillo-smoking linguist. Bellis is reluctantly fleeing New Crobuzon when her vessel is attacked and boarded by militarized pirates. She, (along with her fellow passengers, the surviving crew and remade prisoners), are press-ganged into the floating city of the "Armada." The stories of Tanner Sack, (a gratefully liberated remade prisoner), Shekel, (a street-wise cabin-boy), and, to a lesser extent, Professor Johannes Tearfly, (a marine biologist converted to the Armada's cause), round-out the captives' perspectives. The plot involves Bellis' discovery that the Armada's leaders seek to capture an immense denizen of the abysmal plane for the purposes of powering the Armada through unnavigable waters to an inter-dimensional chasm called "the Scar". Highlights include a foray into a deadly colony of mosquito people, a devastating naval assault, betrayal by a New Crobuzon spy, a rebellion championed by a 300 year old vampire, and sabotage by merciless, deep-sea hunters. Despite virtually incomprehensible metaphysical explanations and an impossibly farfetched closing manipulation, this book is unbelievably good. The prose and descriptions are wondrous, and the story is engrossing. If you like fantasy fiction, then I suggest that you read this book.
Guest More than 1 year ago
China Mieville, the author who astonished me with his vision with Perdido Street Station has wowed me again with this equally unforgettable masterpiece:The Scar. The author who could had taken the easy route and just write a sequel to his first instead takes us back to his world of Bas-lag but in a different place. Bellis Coldwine, a linguist is escaping her city of New Crobuzon because of her brief relationship with a certain scientist named Isaac Dan der Grimmnebulin.If you want to know why read Perdido Street station. Bellis's ship that she is traveling on is attacked by pirates and she and the survivors are taken to Armanda, a city constructed from the hull of pirates ships. While Bellis is there she finds out that rulers of this strange shipcity: a S&M couple called Lovers are planning on a epic project that will change the face of this world forever! Mievielle's epic masterpiece is filled with scenes of terror and wonder as his obvious love of the sea shows on every page. This novel can be described as combination of Herman Mieville and H.P. Lovecraft in design. The characters of this epic novel come alive in these pages. Bellis Coldwine, the unlikely heroine who is manipulated by the various forces upon Armanda. Silas Fennac-the spy and Bellis sometime lover who's agenda no one can fanthom and who holds a deadly secret that will threaten everyone on the Armada. Uther Doul-the Lover's powerful warrior henchman with a incredible weapon at his command.Tanner Sacks-the sailor who becomes less than human and who's loyality to the Armada is set in stone. Brucolac, the sinister vampire who rebels against the power of the Lovers. I mentioned earlier that this book is combination of Herman Mieville and Lovecraft. Like Mieville's moby dick the Lovers obsession with their endeavor it will threaten the lives of all of the inhabitants of this city and the menace of a group of terrifying aquatic demons called grindylow who seek something stolen from them by one of the inhabitants of the city chilled the blood.Mieville's skills as a world-builder are more evident in this book than in perdido street station as he creates alien beings like a race of mosquito people who feast upon blood and raising of giant ancient creature called Avanc from it's resting place under the ocean.This novel is the one to beat as best fantasy novel of 2002 and further cements China Mieville place as one of the premier fantacist of this generation and century!
Sungold on LibraryThing 25 days ago
The Seattle Times review quote on the cover says "Gritty, dark fiction at its finest...a captivating romp through a richly imagined universe." Gritty, dark, and a richly imagined universe -- with those descriptions I wholeheartedly agree, but Mieville is never a "romp." Challenging and pleasingly unpredictable, the Scar loosely follows Perdido Street Station, but weaves a complicated, multi-perspective plot in less than half the space of its predecessor. Dark, complex characters who realistically portray the hidden, inner goodness, and darkness, of the human condition. If you like Mieville, you'll love it; if you are expecting light, fantasy fiction, this work is not for you.
ggarfield on LibraryThing 25 days ago
On the one hand this book is a collection of amazing images, rich characters, exotic creatures, swashbuckling pirates and stunningly imaginative scenes. The whole notion that is ¿Armada¿ is really quite remarkable. The book is a cross between a Tolkien-esque fantasy and science fiction. Mieville¿s vocabulary is admirable in its vastness. On the other, however, I found the plot often redundant which, for me, made it¿s reading a bit of a slog and a dark and foreboding one at that. A long circular journey which seems to end where it started-Uther Doul to Bellis Coldwine ¿ ¿Enough is enough. We will take you back.¿ And so he does and she with scars and fatigue to show for it. Perhaps even a few ¿possibilities. We learn at the end that ¿everything has changed¿ and the journey is really just beginning. Moreover, ¿all that frantic fear is gone¿. So apparently something redeeming may have occurred.Overall, the depth of Mieville¿s imagination, coupled with his descriptive vocabulary makes this a rich story even though I would not count it as one of my favorites.
faganjc on LibraryThing 25 days ago
Loved this book. It's just so damn creative. Loved watching even minor characters develop over the course of the book. I'd have to say it's not quite as "good" as Perdido Street Station, but it's a very different book within the same world, which is pretty impressive. It delivers for me where Iron Council failed.
woodge on LibraryThing 25 days ago
After reading China Miéville's novel Perdido Street Station last June, The Scar was quickly added to my Must Read list. Like the former, The Scar takes place on Miéville's intriguing and bizarre world of Bas-Lag. It's a world of vast oceans, many strange races, and a smattering of magic (or "thaumaturgy" in Miéville's prose). The protagonist this time around is Bellis Coldwine, a woman on the run from the New Crobuzon authorities. She boards a ship leaving New Crobuzon which is heading for a new colony. The ship hasn't traveled too far before it is captured by pirates from the floating city of Armada. There are some fascinating characters living on Armada and Bellis becomes embroiled in the strange plans of Armada's hideously scarred rulers known only as The Lovers. Miéville kept me continually in awe of the weird happenings and travels of the Armadans. His world of Bas-Lag is dense with peculiar people, landscapes, and customs. He's quickly become my new favorite science fiction writer. I was pleased to discover that his next novel, Iron Council, will also be set in Bas-Lag and is due out in July 2004. His novels are just wildly entertaining.
misericordia on LibraryThing 25 days ago
If Perdido Street Station left you with questions. Questions about the mythic origins stories, probability curves and leadership personality cults. Then hang on for another ride on the dark and twisted story that is China Miéville forte. If you thought the city of Bas-lag was something wait till you come aboard Armada. If you haven't read Perdido Street Station don't worry you really don't have to. Either of these two books stand alone and yet each compliments the other. That either book stands alone is true a gift for a fantasy audience often taunted with "Book One in the BLAH BLAH BLAH saga".This has book has a classic magic sword in the possibility/probability sword welded by Uther Doul a guy born in the land Vampires and Liches! The story is narrated by the mother of all brooding Gothic librarian/linguist heroines, Bellis Coldwine. And no story is complete without a convict outcaste mutant underdog like Tanner Sack. Rounding the caste of characters are con-man globe trotting spy Silas Fennac, who learns the perils of over using fish based stolen magic artifacts, Shekel the machine/women loving cabin boy, S&M power couple "The Lovers". Not to mention alternate reality cactus man and deep sea leviathan.This is a grand and wonderful epic in a single book.
sunwukung on LibraryThing 25 days ago
One of my all time favourite fantasy books - there is more invention and imagination inbetween the covers of this beauty than in half the derivative fantasy I have read. No obligatory trilogy, no default 500 pages of padded fetch quests - this is absolutely popping with fresh ideas, glimpses of a vast world that leaves you wanting more.
kmaziarz on LibraryThing 25 days ago
Bellis Coldwine, a translator who has lived in the city of New Crobuzon her entire life, finds herself fleeing her beloved city for the colony of Nova Esperium. Unfortunately for Bellis, her ship is attacked by pirates along the way. The pirates kill the captain and first mate, and offer the passengers¿and the hold full of slaves who were on their way to a life of servitude in the colony¿a chance at a new life in the pirate city of Armada. Armada is like no other city ever created; over the centuries, ships have been lashed together into a great conglomeration, with bridges built between them and buildings built upon them, creating a vibrant and ever-evolving seagoing civilization whose population is ever supplemented by the press-ganged like Bellis. Cold and bitter to begin with, Bellis now finds herself an unwilling inhabitant of Armada and her anger grows. Quickly, however, she finds herself caught up in the plot being hatched by Armada¿s rulers, known only as the Lovers, to raise a giant beast from the deeps and harness its mighty strength. It seems that the Lovers have been targeting ships to acquire books and personnel with specialized knowledge, and Bellis discovers that she is the only one in the city who can read the dead language in which the most important text is written¿and that raising the beast may only be the beginning of the Lovers¿ sinister plans. Add into the mix a spy from New Crobuzon who needs Bellis¿s help; a freed slave who will do another for his new city but finds nostalgia in his heart for his old; and Uther Doul, a deadly mercenary who chooses not to lead but to follow and who bears ancient artifacts from the long-dead and inhuman Ghosthead Empire; and mysterious aquatic entities stalking the city for their own purposes, and you have the formula for a complicated, vibrant story in which nothing and no one are what they seem and everything can change at a moment¿s notice.China Mieville is an up-and-coming name in the genre of urban fantasy. Whereas many writers in the genre set their stories in cities that are recognizably our own but which then morph and twist into new forms, Mieville¿s work creates cities that are new and strange, becoming vibrant characters in their own right. Armada is a triumphant and magical creation, and the eccentricities of the characters and plot are mesmerizing.
steve.clason on LibraryThing 25 days ago
Warning: I didn't read Perdido Street Station which might have made a difference.A quirky, interestingly imagined world, but: the protagonist and antangonist strive to distance themselves from their surroundings, which distances us as well, minor characters so complex you can't discern their motivations, conflict with no resolution and a finish--well, like "Ok, I'm done now."The beginning was so promising, I feel cheated.
stubbyfingers on LibraryThing 25 days ago
This book is awesome! I loved it!
BarbN on LibraryThing 25 days ago
Journey to the center of the earth recast as if in dreams. Vivid, memorable writing, wonderfully imaginative with bizarre creatures and motives. The lead characters (of whatever species) become very real and tangible through the course of the story. The heroine does not start out as a sympathetic character, but her eventual engagement and punishment for becoming engaged grab one by the throat. I found this book quite brilliant and absolutely absorbing.
BeardedPapa on LibraryThing 25 days ago
Really different from all sci fi and fantasy that I have read. Got tired of every possible use of the f--- word. The book would be about 1/3 shorter w/o those words, and not lose any meaning. Funny. But I recommend it for the creativity seen in Mieville's writings. I'm finding it also in Un Lun Dun, a children's book.
TheAmpersand on LibraryThing 25 days ago
A grand steampunk adventure that takes its readers to the literal ends of the earth, "The Scar" is probably a better book than its much-discussed predecessor. Not that it doesn't resemble it, mind you: the author's obsessions with nineteenth century technology, weird physiognomy, and the many ways that disparate cultures can clash and blend are still very much in evidence. Still, he wisely chooses to rein in his worst impulses by limiting this novel's setting and trimming its plot: most of the book's action takes place on a single floating city, and you can (almost) count the book's major characters on one hand. Mieville's prose still a bit too verbose for my taste, but he's restrained himself here, too. His writing, while still intricate and stylized, is a bit more streamlined here, and he seems less eager to overwhelm his reader with long, grandiose descriptive passages. Mieville's plotting here is tighter, too: "The Scar" has a narrative drive that was notably absent from "Perdido Street Station" and a delicious sense of impending doom that seeps into the narrative as the the book draws to a close will keep many readers turning the pages well past their bedtimes. Mieville still seems more interested in systems and ideas than people: some of the book's characters, like Uther Doul's warrior figure, still seem seem drawn straight from a AD&D manual, and I'm not sure I'll ever be able to take a book that names its central protagonist "Bellis Coldwine" completely seriously. Still, his descriptions of the inner workings of Armada, a pirate city built from the hulls of captured ships, were engaging and and sometimes even beautiful, and somewhere in "The Scar" there's a serious meditation on the nature of loss and the condition of exile. I particularly enjoyed Mieville's treatment of Tanner Sack and Shekel, two characters of low social standing who see their assimilation into Armada as a chance to build a better, more humane life in a less repressive social environment. "The Scar" isn't a work of genius, but it's a fun read perfect for readers with a few hours to kill and an urge to journey deep into unknown lands.
AramisSciant on LibraryThing 25 days ago
Second book set in New Crobuzon and again an incredible and amazing story from the fantastic mind of China Miéville. Long and difficult at parts, it was incredibly rewarding nevertheless.
Arbitrex on LibraryThing 25 days ago
Despite the purple prose and slow beginning, there was something about Perdido S.S. that made it all worth it. The world/city is fantastic, but the sluggish story began to perk and accelerate and twist in a unique way that thrilled. It bull's-eyed a giant sci-fi/horror pleasure button in my brain that left me hungering for more. The Scar simply didn't deliver the same. It further paints his richly imagined world, but the story driving it constantly loses momentum. The ending was a disappointment, and an anti-climax after such a long read. If you read this book, try to derive your enjoyment from the ride through a unique world, and hopefully by lowering your expectations about the ending you might end up finding it passable.
ChrisRiesbeck on LibraryThing 25 days ago
In this spoiler-free (I think) review I hope I can help others decide if The Scar is something they would enjoy. I say almost nothing specific about the plot but instead list the "flavor notes" I found, in the form of other books I was reminded of. I'm not suggesting that The Scar is derivative of those works any more than wine actually is made from chocolate, oak or sauerkraut.Since I have not read Perdido Street Station, I make no reference to that preceding text. While there may be much I missed, readers should know that The Scar stands alone quite well.One almost overpowering and certainly lingering flavor is Peake's Gormenghast. The Scar is set primarily on a floating city made 100s of captured ships. How this city is maintained, how it works, how it feels to walk its many alleys under its many towers suffuses the story in the same way that the castle/city of Gormenghast dominated the first two books in Peake's trilogy. Another strong flavor that appears early and repeatedly is horrific carnage from mysterious figures a la Simmon's Hyperion. Eventually all is explained but without lessening the original horror. As with Hyperion, there are sympathetic characters taken though some terrible times, though the focus is on just a few people. Then comes the interleaved flavors of Victorian steampunk, a la Blaylock's Lord Kelvin's Machine with magic as engineering as in Campbell's Unknown magazine -- and maybe even a touch of the whaling chapters from Moby Dick. Many pages are spent on the technology of storing and applying magical sources of power, the cultural processes for living with vampires, and so on. I found the substitution of 'y' for 'e' to form terms like "chymical" and "elyctric" annoying, but otherwise these passages satisfied the SF reader in me far more than a typical fantasy does. In one of the touches I enjoyed quite a bit, the most magical device and the source of its power is also the closest to a pure science fiction device. There are some off-notes. There are points where the city's populace "speaks" with one voice the way entire planetary populations used to be characterized in pulp SF. Some of the plot revelations are a bit thin to support the time and emphasis given them. Finally, I've grown to really hate long books. Even when I enjoy the book, as I did The Scar, I resent one author hogging my time to such an extent. I'd rather visit the world of The Scar in several shorter novels, on my schedule, than have a forced extended stay.Still in all, I'm glad I read The Scar and some day I'll return to read Perdido Street Station.
SkyRider on LibraryThing 25 days ago
The Scar follows the adventures of Bellis Coldwine, a linguist on the run who happens to pick the wrong ship on which to try to escape. The ship is a prison vessel and when it gets captured by pirates the mass of convicts in the hold are more than ready to swap a lifetime of penal servitude for freedom on the open sea while Bellis finds herself a prisoner of sorts, faced with the prospect of never being allowed to leave the pirate community.But these pirates aren't aimless plunderers; they have a very definite objective...This is a terrifically imaginative book. Miéville has created a world astounding in its depth, richness and quirkiness, from sentient aquatic life to the mosquito people where the males need to hide from the females and their immense probosces. But the greatest of all, and clearly the star of the book, is the pirate city of Armada, a square mile of vessels stolen over the centuries lashed together to make a giant raft.We also get to meet a rich and well-defined group of characters; a long way from the two-dimensional caricatures common in fantasy literature, we get to know a number of the lead players, their characters and backgrounds, in great detail - sometimes too much detail for the squeamish! Few, if any, of these characters are particularly pleasant or sympathetic but you nonetheless get drawn into the narrative.The book's not without its shortcomings though. The pacing felt a somewhat irregular with the main storyline taking around a hundred pages to actually get going (though this wasn't entirely wasted time as a couple of the characters are well developed at the start) and I found the end to be somewhat anticlimactic, though that's just personal preference. What did begin to grate by the end was Miéville's predilection for showing off verbally. There are some people with large vocabularies who are able to wear their learning lightly and just happen to use more obscure words. In Miéville's narrative they sometimes feel a bit contrived, deliberately placed there to show off.Utimately, though, these are small niggles when compared to the scale of the work. For 800 pages you are immersed in this terrific world of imagination and it feels a little disappointing to have to emerge back into real life when you put the book down!
Bookalicious on LibraryThing 5 months ago
Strange, Bizzare, a freak show of oddities and weirdos that somehow come together in a fantastic yarn. Perhaps a little heavy for those just looking for some light reading or just for some thoughtless escapism, but still worth making time to read.
clong on LibraryThing 5 months ago
Perdido Street Station made it pretty clear that China Miéville is going to be an important new voice in contemporary fantasy. In almost every way, The Scar is a better book. For me, the real star of PSS was the city of New Crobuzon itself. While The Scar takes place on the same world, it definitely offers more of a story--a journey, both literally and symbolically. The novel gives us an entirely new cast of characters, which move through a variety of fantastic locations, each fascinating in its own way. The plotting felt much more assured to me, with the story inexorably moving through a progression of episodes leading towards an exciting conclusion. My biggest disappointment with The Scar was that I never really connected with the protagonist, Bellis. This alone keeps me from rating the book a 10. Many of the other characters, whether good, bad or somewhere in between, were memorable in a variety of ways, especially the two enigmatic leading men of the story, Silas Fennec and Uther Doul. The story does drag a bit early in the book, picks up in the middle, and is hard to put down for the last 200 pages or so.
idanush on LibraryThing 5 months ago
China is actually getting better with time. His second attempt is a little more subtle and subdued. he relaxes a bit and that's a good thing (Massive and huge and any derivative are still abundant though).Again, he takes us on an unbelievable journey that is impossible and yet fascinating. Full of aliens that feel truly alien yet are strangely easy to relate to, and technology that is magical and fantastic yet so familiar.China shows us that the journey is the biggest part of the trip aboard an absurd city that is built out of salvaged boats.
jmgold on LibraryThing 5 months ago
One of the few sequels to be greater than its predecessor. While the plot was not quite as interesting as that of Perdido Street Station's was, this novel is far more assuredly written. Plus the setting is just astonishingly well realized. Easy the most immersive reading experience I've had in the last few years.
dominus on LibraryThing 5 months ago
I tell people that if they liked _Perdido Street Station_, they'll probably like _The Scar_, and if they didn't like _Perdido Street Station_, they might like _The Scar_ anyway.Although set in the same universe, _The Scar_ has no characters or settings in common with _Perdido Street Station_. It is more tightly and cleverly plotted, without the gratuitous set-pieces and discursions of _Perdido Street Station_. The characters are better-drawn and more compelling. There is less slime and gore. The characters do not freeze in horror just long enough for one of them to be devoured by a monster, as happened several times in the previous book.It's a better job all around.