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Iron Council Hardcover – Jul 2004

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Hardcover, Jul 2004

Product details

  • Hardcover: 576 pages
  • Publisher: Del Rey Books (July 2004)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0345464028
  • ISBN-13: 978-0345464026
  • Product Dimensions: 23.6 x 17 x 3.5 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 3.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (49 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 5,431,292 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

China Miéville lives and works in London. He is three-time winner of the prestigious Arthur C. Clarke Award (Perdido Street Station, Iron Council and The City & The City) and has also won the British Fantasy Award twice (Perdido Street Station and The Scar). The City & The City, an existential thriller, was published in 2009 to dazzling critical acclaim and drew comparison with the works of Kafka and Orwell (The Times) and Philip K. Dick (Guardian).

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Amazon Review

China Miéville's novel Iron Council is the tumultuous story of the "Perpetual Train". Born from monopolists' greed and dispatched to tame the western lands beyond New Crobuzon, the train is itself the beginnings of an Iron Council formed in the fire of frontier revolt against the railroad's masters. From the wilderness, the legend of Iron Council becomes the spark uniting the oppressed and brings barricades to the streets of faraway New Crobuzon. The sprawling tale is told through the past-and-present eyes of three characters. The first is Cutter, a heartsick subversive who follows his lover, the messianic Judah Low, on a quest to return to the Iron Council hidden in the western wilds. The second is Judah himself, an erstwhile railroad scout who has become the iconic golem-wielding hero of Iron Council's uprising at the end of the tracks. And the third is Ori, a young revolutionary on the streets of New Crobuzon, whose anger leads him into a militant wing of the underground, plotting anarchy and mayhem.

Miéville (The Scar, Perdido Street Station) weaves his epic out of familiar and heavily political themes--imperialism, fascism, conquest and Marxism--all seen through a darkly cast funhouse mirror wherein even language is distorted and made beautifully grotesque. Improbably evoking Jack London and Victor Hugo, Iron Council is a twisted frontier fable cleverly combined with a powerful parable of Marxist revolution that continues Miéville's macabre remaking of the fantasy genre. --Jeremy Pugh,


"Mieville moves effortlessly into the first division of those who use the tools and weapons of the fantastic to define and create the fiction of the coming century."--NEIL GAIMAN "Continuously fascinating . . . Mieville creates a world of outrageous inventiveness."--"The Denver Post" "From the Hardcover edition." --This text refers to an alternate Hardcover edition.

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Customer Reviews

3.4 out of 5 stars

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

20 of 22 people found the following review helpful By Sebastian Liebowitz on 25 Sept. 2006
Format: Paperback
Mieville sets a new bench mark for Sci-Fi creativity with this book. His inventiveness twists so many dimensions of culture, space, time and social norms that it can leave the reader reeling and confused. It is not just the challenge of imagining Mieville's many and varied creatures and landscapes that makes this book different. It is the way he spins what is essentially a heroic yarn - a group of revolutionaries try to save the city that spawned them - into a new millenium morality tale.

In doing so he treats the English Language as a watch-maker who is forced to mend a watch with a plastic spatula - it is so inadequate for the task at hand that Mieville invents a vast new lexicon to help himself describe the weirdity he has invented. Absolutists beware - it is rarely worth reaching for the dictionary as he has moved English on a phase and the dictionary has yet to catch up.

This is not a book for the prudish - his characters are raw, mainly male and spend quality time with each other and aliens. They are made to suffer physically and emotionally, perhaps helping us to divine the author's world view - this book presents life as a bitter struggle against domination by others, the oppression lifted only by hope for the future and stolen moments with those you love.

If you are looking for an easy read - this isn't it. It is no surprise that in working the imagination and lexicon so hard, Mieville loses readers along the way. So many literary special effects detract from the characters who generate little affection, and the plot itself is quite simplistic - just follow the spirals.

Despite that, there is real joy to be had throughout this book.
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19 of 22 people found the following review helpful By Marc Ruby™ on 27 Jan. 2005
Format: Hardcover
There are several stories woven together in this novel - another on the New Crobuzon series (if you would call that a series). The very first is an expedition of New Crobuzon 'rebels' let by Cutter, setting out to find Judah Low and the Iron Council. The second theme is Judah's own tale - an observer and prospector for a new cross-country railroad, then a mage, and then a revolutionary. This is inextricably bound up with the tale of the train itself - slowly moving across the face of the world as the track is built, finally revolting from its overlords, workers and train taking off on their own. The strange ecology that comes into being as a feral train and those that keep it independent and moving it the Iron Council. Now something of a legend back in New Crobuzon, and hated by those it rebelled against.
Back in the city itself, the themes of oppression and revolution play themselves out. Ori, a young man, is drawn into the mild sedition or an organization (perhaps it is a 'dys'organization) called the Caucus. These meet secretively, engage in mild guerilla politics, but are mostly a discussion forum. Finally dissatisfied, he shifts to a more violent form of protest, let by the bull-headed Toro on a quest to kill New Crobuzon's mayor and bring down the current regime. New Crobuzon itself returns as a major theme, much like the one it played in Perdido Street Station. But while that book saw the city as something vitally and sometimes fearfully alive with both horrors and delights, Iron Council presents a picture of a degenerating social class struggle, a collapsing economy, and an increasing oppressive government.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Richard S. Clesham on 22 Aug. 2007
Format: Paperback
I know it's an awful cliche, but i actually couldnt put this book down. seriously.
yeh it doesnt start all that well with the search for Judah. but once it gets going it's breathtaking. the whole section about Judah's past was unforgettable and the sections during the attempted revolution in New Crobuzon was imense.
I know people disregard this book becuase of it's politics and the fact that i largely agree with his politics puts me in a better position to relate to the novel, but it is fantastic writing with astonishing ideas and.... well i can't really put it into words how much i enjoyed this book. it is not a happy novel and it is not an easy read but it is one of the most accomplished novels i have read. i was completely engrossed in the story and as i have thought of all his Bas-Lag novels, a fantasy world has never been so complete.
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12 of 14 people found the following review helpful By R. S. Loch on 14 Dec. 2004
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
The real flaw this book is that it is different.
Mieville has moved from the urban landscapes of his first three novels and created a book, which is about journeys real and psychological. The book is also a great deal more political than his previous novels and as such becomes too human. The book also lacked the independence of the other three novels; you have to have read Perdido Street Station to understand the world these events are occurring in.
With all due respect to other reviewers who have slated this book, I suspect it is more a reaction to the book's differences rather than its quality.
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10 of 12 people found the following review helpful By Jane Aland VINE VOICE on 3 Jan. 2006
Format: Paperback
‘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.
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