The Scar

The Scar

Book - 2002
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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.
Publisher: New York : Ballantine Books, 2002.
ISBN: 9780345444387
Branch Call Number: FIC MIEVILLE, C.
Characteristics: 638 p. ; 24 cm.


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Mar 28, 2020

I've been an avid reader for 70 years, and for most of them I've chosen SF and fantasy as my favourite genres, so as you may imagine I've read a lot in my time and have been exposed to both the best and worst on offer. I'm not surprised at the effusive praise for this novel because the author has obvious strengths, but - the inevitable but - my impression was more unfavourable. I found the word creation excessive and detrimental to one's understanding of the created universe. Too much braggadocio, look how clever I am, rather than how do I make this world and milieu empathetic to the reader. Most sadly, I found the protagonist to be wholly unsympathetic, and could not bring myself to care about her. The world was not wondrous but dreary and depressing, grim and grimy, and although I finished the book it had one of those endings I call non endings, nothing resolved, no evolution of character, no satisfaction for the reader. If I disliked it so much, why did I struggle through to the end of over 600 pages? Because the library closed due to the covid 19 pandemic and I was desperate. I'd started to read the book, decided it was not worth my time, then picked it up again when it was all I had that was unread. I won't read a sequel nor seek out the previous book in the series. Pretentious authors don't deserve attention.

Jul 08, 2019

Really enjoyed this one—better than Perdido Street Station, actually, given that the setting here is generally stranger and less like what one might have seen in other fiction. New Crobuzon is a steam punk, capitalist dystopia. That's ... well, that's pretty much it in a nutshell. Bizarre, but easy to wrap one's mind around. Armada, on the other hand, is a mobile ... pirate republic ... thing? With quasi-dictators? Sometimes? Look, it's hard to explain, and that's precisely what makes it so engaging. The setting in this one raises all sorts of bizarre world-building questions about politics, culture, technology, magic, etc. And the plot (for me, at least) raised some horrifying and fascinating questions about the nature of reality (stick with it to the end; things get intense).

I found the point-of-view characters to be a little dull (more so than the antagonists, who are distinct and memorable), but the setting is so strange that it easily makes up for it. Maybe your mileage will vary, but I loved this book. Read this as a tourist to this world Mieville creates, and you won't be disappointed.

Jul 03, 2019

This is the second book of Mieville's Bas-Lag series (be sure to start with book #1, "Perdido Street Station," as it sets up a lot of the world-building for the rest of the series, this is not one of those "start wherever you want" book series). The Scar lacks some of the action and skin-crawling horror of the first installment, and the story doesn't come to a satisfying conclusion, although this may have been intentional given the travelogue nature of the story. The book is still packed with fights, monsters, and morally ambiguous characters, and if you're already a Mieville fan this is a must-read.

Jul 08, 2010

Mieville's amazing world-building skills are displayed admirably in this excellent steampunk novel. Much of the book is set in the floating pirate city of Armada where a strange group of outcasts and prisoners have crafted their own unique civilization. Mieville makes Armada seem almost like a real city populated with a complex hierarchy of scheming political factions. The book's main theme, scars, is expertly woven throughout the characters, story, and setting. As always, Mieville's characters are strongly portrayed and are all very humanly flawed. The book drags slowly for the first hundred pages, but resolves itself brilliantly long before the last chapter.

FollowTheBlind Sep 24, 2009

Simply one of the best books I have ever read. A dark, twisted, gritty, vivid steampunk pirate fantasy story that is so much more than just an adventure. Politics, intrigue, linguistics, science, magic and war; this book encompasses all of this and more.


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