Brilliantly imaginative urban fantasy on a colossal scale from an award-winning author
Mieville is a true polymath, with an ingenious imagination and a formidable vocabulary. He seems able to write with authority on most subjects and weaves technical language and metaphors in to his work with ease. However, one of the greatest joys of this novel is its accessibility; the author uses his obvious intelligence to entertain rather than to impress. The result is an engaging, exciting and highly enjoyable read.
However, a valid criticism of this book is that it is overwritten. This becomes a serious nuisance towards the end of the book, when the highly descriptive prose slows down the plot instead of allowing the pace to pick up as the finale approaches. This loss of momentum caused me to lose interest at what should have been a critical point in the book.
Although this is a great novel, it is certainly not the best that this author can produce. The follow-up, set in the same world, is a far more accomplished novel and if you like 'Perdido Street Station' you will love 'The Scar'.
Criticisms...I have a few. This is an author who likes to use long, fancy, big words that the average man on the street has never heard of, let alone understand. I felt small when faced with his excellent knowledge of the English knowledge - when the reader feels small, thats not a good thing. He is an educated man, no doubt, but why use a big complicated word, when a smaller one would do instead? It disturbs the flow of the book, and this is meant to be harmless fiction, and not a literary classic! But maybe I'm wrong...
Also, I found myself not 'enjoying' his imagination as I would have hoped. Women with beetle heads; Birds with human bodies; Villians with a dozen eyes, claws, legs, and furs; Frog-like people; all made the book seem...lacking. Maybe this was a deliberate attempt to keep the fantasy as real as possible, by using creatures we know and mixing it up a little...but it did no more than irritate me.
Apart from that, it is a good story and the author tells it well. Slow to start, it picks up and we find ourselves rooting for the heroes, and booing the villians - damn that Motley!
Buy it, try it, and get to work on the overcrowded London tubes a happy person.