Iron Council (China Miéville)

Iron Council is the third novel in the Bas-Lag series by China Miéville.
Finished on: 4.6.2017
[Here are my reviews of the other books.]

Cutter knows he has to find the Iron Council, the perpetually moving train full of rebels and dissenters who fled New Crobuzon. Among those rebels is Judah, who Cutter used to be very close to. And now Cutter has gained knowledge that the New Crobuzon militia is ready to strike against the Iron Council. Meanwhile in New Crobuzon itself, things are brewing, too, and Ori knows he wants to have a part in it, a hopefully very active part.

As usual with Miéville, Iron Council takes work to read and it takes a little time to get into this. But it’s worth it to stick with it, as Miéville gives us not only a wonderfully intricate world and complex characters, but also an awesome political slant.

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The Scar (China Miéville)

The Scar is the second novel in the Bas-Lag series by China Miéville. [Here’s my review of the first book.]

Bellis Coldwine has to leave New Crobuzon, and quickly, too. That’s how she ends up on a ship on its way to the furthest off colonies that New Crobuzon has. The ship carries a ragtag mix of people – from scientist Johannes Tearfly to remade prisoners like Tanner Sack and even picks up a mysterious passenger on the way – Silas Fennec who orders the ship to turn back. But before they get very far, all of them are captured by pirates and have to restart their lives on the floating pirate city Armada.

I just wanted to start this review with the words that I liked this book even more than I liked the first one. But I don’t know if that’s true. I certainly liked Bellis more than Isaac, though I did like Isaac too. But both are absolutely brilliant books in very different ways.


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Dial H Vol. 2: Exchange (China Miéville, Alberto Ponticelli, Dan Green)

Dial H Vol. 2: Exchange collects issues 7-15 of the DC 52 reboot of Dial H for Hero, plus the series’ epilogue (Justice League 23.3: Dial E). It was written by China Miéville and drawn by Alberto Ponticelli and Dan Green. [Here’s my review of the first Volume.]

Nelson and Roxie are traveling around the world to try and figure out everything about the H-Dial they share and to maybe find a second one, so they don’t have to share anymore. As they are trying to uncover new things, they are hunted by Centipede, a Canadian spy who has his own powers and his own agenda.

It really is a pity that this series was cancelled already. It had so much promise. And I really enjoyed the second volume, despite a slightly bumpy second half.


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Perdido Street Station (China Miéville)

Perdido Street Station is the first novel in the Bas-Lag series by China Miéville.

Isaac is a scientist who doesn’t really conform to the scientific community, most of all because of his girlfriend Lin, who happens to be a khepri – an instect-woman. It’s a relationship that would be frowned upon if it were known. Lin is an artist and she’s approached for an unusual comission, while Isaac himself is also hired by Yagharek, a garuda – a bird-man. Yagharek’s wings were taken from him as a punishment and he hopes that Isaac can give him back his flight. But Isaac’s research takes him somewhere else entirely.

Perdido Street Station is a dense book, literally and figuratively. It took me way longer to read it than its length suggested, but I absolutely loved every page and minute of it. Great character, great plot and the usual beauty of Miéville’s prose.


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Dial H Vol. 1: Into You (China Miéville, Mateus Santolouco)

Dial H Vol. 1: Into You collects the first six issues (plus issue 0) of the DC 52 reboot of Dial H for Hero. It was written by China Miéville and drawn by Mateus Santolouco.

Nelson doesn’t have much of a life, a fact that his last remaining friend Darren tries to change. And Nelson’s life does change big time when he stumbles upon Darren getting beaten up. Nelson wants to call for help in a phone booth and dials 4376 – Hero. Out of the phone box comes not Nelson, but Boy Chimney. Nelson discovers that every time he uses the phone box, he becomes another superhero for a while. So he tries to protect Darren – but his beating was not random and things are a little more difficult.

I loved Dial H. It’s smart, it’s funny, but it’s also freaking dark and scary.  And the art is great.


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Railsea (China Miéville)

Railsea is the newest novel by China Miéville, based a little bit on Herman Melville’s Moby Dick.

Sham recently started working on a moletrain, one of the many trains who drive through the endless railsea hunting moles. But his train, the Medes, is made special by the fact that his Captain, Captain Naphi has a philosophy: a giant yellow mole she lost a limb to and has been hunting ever since. But when Sham sees a few pictures he isn’t really supposed to see, his life gets entangled with the Shroake siblings Caldera and Dero and he is soon on a much bigger adventure than he ever thought he would be.

Railsea is an absolute joyride. Linguistically, it’s probably Miéville’s most idiosyncratic book, but it’s fast-paced, fun and bursting with ideas.

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Embassytown (China Miéville)

Embassytown is the newest novel by China Miéville.

Avice lives in Embassytown on the planet Arieka, on the very outskirts of the known universe. The humans on Arieka live together with the original inhabitants, the Ariekei, in an uneasy combination of tolerance and ignorance, due to the fundamental differences in communication: the Ariekei can’t lie – but that’s just the smallest difference. The only humans actually able to communicate with them are specially trained ambassadors. Avice is anxious to leave Arieka, so when she get’s to become an immerser, she leaves never meaning to return. But for the sake of her husband, a linguist fascinated with the Ariekei, she does make it back and witnesses the arrival of a new ambassador – with unexpected consequences.

I completely adored Embassytown. There’s really not much more to say except gushing: the Ariekei are fascinating creatures – and utterly alien. The world-building is amazing, and as usual in Miéville’s books there is enough fodder for thought to last for quite a while.

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Kraken (China Miéville)

Kraken is the newest novel by China Miéville.

Billy Harrow works in the Darwin Center. Among other things, he’s kinda responsible for a giant squid (in formaldehyde, of course) – which one day just vanishes from the museum. But that’s just the start of the weirdness in Billy’s life: he soon finds himself in the company of Dane, a believer of a squid cult Kraken Church, hunted by Goss and Subby – a more than macabre and scary duo in the employ of the Tattoo, the city’s mob boss – and desperately trying to avoid the end of the world that is connected to the vanished squid.

Kraken is a book that will sweep you off your feet and leave you completely breathless with its sheer inventiveness. Every time you think that you got the hang of everything, Miéville introduces a new idea, more or less mindblowing. It’s absolutely exhilarating.

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The City & the City (China Miéville)

The City & the City is the Hugo Award winning novel by China Miéville. [And he blogs!]

Inspector Tyador Borlú works for the police in Besźel. One day they discover the body of a young woman nobody recognises. Together with his colleague he goes about solving the murder and soon finds out that the woman wasn’t actually from Besźel but living in Ul Qoma. Ul Qoma and Besźel have a pretty strained relationship. To outside observers it would seem that they are one city. But inhabitants of Besźel unsee Ul Qoma and the other way round, only noticing their own city. They are in a fragile sort of balance, carefully monitored by a force called Breach.

The fantastic setting is basically just a bonus and not really the point of the story. The City & the City is a murder mystery, a very good murder mystery, but if murder mysteries aren’t your thing – and they aren’t for me – you might be a little underwhelmed.

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King Rat (China Miéville)

King Rat is China Miéville‘s first novel.

Saul returns to the home he shares with his father after a trip to find his father murdered and to be suspected by the police of being the murderer. He is saved by King Rat, the King of the rats (SURPRISE!) and a kind of mixture between rat and man. King Rat tells him that he is the brother of Saul’s dead mother and that Saul therefore has rat blood himself. While Saul discovers his roots and his abilities, a weird young man approaches Saul’s friend Natasha, who is a Drum’n’Bass DJ. The young man plays the flute and kind of insinuates himself into her otherwise very guarded life.
Well, Saul soon discovers that all isn’t well in the land of the rats, that the rats hold a grudge against their king and the murder of his father is only one piece of a bigger context, in which Saul has a big role to play.

After having read Un Lun Dun, I’m afraid that my expectations for King Rat were a little bit too high. It’s a first novel after all. Though Miéville’s immense talent is there, the story and plotting is a little rough around the edges, a little too obvious in its development. But even so, King Rat is a good read.



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