‘Iron Council’ is China Mieville’s 2nd sequel to ‘Perdido Street Station’, and as with ‘The Scar’ before it while it is not a direct sequel any new readers will certainly be missing out on much essential background detail if they don’t read the other books first. The story is essentially about a revolution of the underclass in New Crobuzon, and the narrative is divided between the tales of civil war in the city itself, and a desperate attempt to summon help from the mythical Iron Council. While the revolution in New Crobuzon drives the narrative, the real meat of the story concerns the typical fantasy ‘there and back again’ travelogue to reach the Iron Council, and a lengthy flashback which provides both a background for the main character Judah Low and the history of how Bas Lang’s first railway transformed into a mythical lost society. As with his previous novels Mieville is strong on inventive weirdness, with magic, monsters and the bizarre half-human remade, but his characters are strong enough to provide a real emotional core for the book. I’m at a loss as to why some reviewers seem to think this novel represents a change of style for Mieville, or is overly-political (the revolutionaries in New Crobuzon are clearly defined and there is little here that hasn’t already been set up in the previous novels), and having re-read both ‘Perdido Street Station’ and ‘The Scar’ immediately before reading this 3rd novel I can really detect no overt differences at all. And that’s all for the good – ‘Iron Council’ is another wonderfully bizarre and ultimately moving fantasy, and highly recommended.