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17 of 17 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Best Mieville I've read
My relationship with China Mieville's work is somewhat complicated. I detested Kraken with every fibre of my being, because it was an excellent idea poorly executed. Despite that, I still read the first of his Bas-Lag novels, Perdido Street Station, which I enjoyed much more, even though I still believed it had many of the same infuriating faults of Kraken and Mieville...
Published on 27 Dec. 2011 by Joanne Sheppard

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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars A little disappointed - if only it was as good as it as it could have been
This book has some fantastic (in every sense) writing. At its best, there is vivid prose and stunning imagination.

Sadly, this can't sustain an entire novel - especially not one this long - and, in other respects, Mieville's writing isn't anything like as good. His characterisation is sometimes rather weak. For a writer with a natural gift at describing a sense...
Published on 18 Mar. 2010 by wolf


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5.0 out of 5 stars Another great Bas Lag story., 27 Jan. 2015
After reading Perdido Street Station, this book seemed a little slow to begin but soon absorbs the reader and gives another wonderful story. I enjoyed looking online for fan art and this added to the work. Brilliant.
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4 of 6 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A complex and rewarding adventure story, 31 July 2004
This review is from: The Scar (Paperback)
This novel is set in the highly imaginative world of Bas-Lag . Home to the city of New Crobuzon (the setting of Perdido Street Station).
There are occasional references to New Crobuzon and hints at the events in CMs previous novel, but there is no need to read one before the other.
I have heard this style of novel referred to as Industrial Fantasy and I find the term fits pretty well combining as it does, Steam Punk, Phantasmagoria and Alchemical magic.
The story opens with a strange half-man/half-cray encountering a strange, terrible danger from the depths of the oceans, but the focus quickly switches to the main protagonist of the story, Bellis Coldwine.
She is on the run from New Crobuzon and takes passage on a ship to a new colony.
Needless to say this is the start of a truly epic adventure with Bellis acting as witness and participant (though often reluctantly).
Given the breadth of imagination and ideas (Chimerical creatures, undead, a floating pirate city, magic, steam power and quantum physics to name but a few) it would be easy to lose the plot and fail to deliver interesting or believable characters.
But China Mieville manages to keep it all going.
Bellis is often bitter but is at heart 'an innocent abroad'.
There is also a rich supporting cast;
Tanner Sack is staunch and loyal.
The Lovers represent the power of obsession.
Uther Doul is an enigma and perhaps the most interesting character encountered.
The plot is well paced and takes you in unexpected directions with sub-plots and sudden twists and turns.
But in the end it is about scars .
They imply wounds and healing.
Some are physical, some emotional, some metaphysical .
They can be reminders of the past , badges of courage or a source of continuing pain.
China Mievilles novel is a complex and rewarding adventure story .
It is a thoroughly enjoyable read, written by an author who has an outstanding talent with the English language.
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1 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Mieville's masterpiece, 26 Nov. 2010
By 
A. Whitehead "Werthead" (Colchester, Essex United Kingdom) - See all my reviews
(VINE VOICE)    (TOP 500 REVIEWER)    (REAL NAME)   
This review is from: The Scar (Paperback)
Fleeing from New Crobuzon for reasons she prefers to keep to herself, Bellis Coldwine is heading for Nova Esperium, a colony located thousands of miles away across the Swollen Ocean, to lay low. Unfortunately, her ship is intercepted by the enigmatic pirates of the floating city of Armada and she is pressganged into Armada's service...as a librarian.

Armada is a city like no other, even on the baroque and weird world of Bas-Lag. Ruled over by the passion-fuelled Lovers, defended by Uther Doul and his unique sword, funded by piracy across half a dozen seas, Armada is a city of boats and decks and intrigue. But after centuries of wandering, Armada now has a mission and a purpose: to chain a creature of myth and to use it to find an ancient and great treasure. In the process Bellis will visit the island of the mosquito-women, will uncover a vast threat to New Crobuzon itself and be used and become an important chess-piece in the struggle for supremacy in the floating city.

China Mieville has written many good novels over the years, books which combine fine prose with wonderfully strange ideas, but often the elements of his books are out of balance. Perdido Street Station, for example, features wonderful worldbuilding and powerfully effective prose, but the actual story is somewhat mundane and the book overlong. The City and the City has a clever story and efficient, stripped-back writing but the premise doesn't convince (or at least the reactions of the outside world to it). Un Lun Dun is brilliant fun but lacks the darkness that lies at the heart of much of Mieville's work. And so forth.

The Scar, on the other hand, has all of Mieville's strengths working in tandem with one another. The world is vivid, the story engrossing, the writing intelligent but also compulsively page-turning, whilst the book has arguably Mieville's finest collection of characters.
Breaking free from the metropolis of New Crobuzon (which was fairly well-explored in Perdido Street Station), The Scar takes us across the oceans and islands of Bas-Lag, showing more locations and hinting at grander vistas lying beyond the horizon. It's a dizzying travelogue of invention and weirdness and works excellently.

The characters are an interesting bunch, from cold and remote Bellis Coldwine, our main protagonist, to Uther Doul, the city's resident badass warrior with a philosophical streak and a mighty sword (if The Scar had come out a bit later, I'd have suspected Anomander Rake as an inspiration). Even the secondary cast is superb, such as Tanner Sack, a Remade slave in New Crobuzon who becomes a respected and worthy citizen of Armada, and Shekel the cabin boy, a potential cliche who becomes a compelling character in his own right. Even barely-seen characters like the Brucolac, Hedrigall the lookout and the steamborg Angevine hint at tantalising depths. Mieville also continues his tradition of giving good monster, with the mosquito-women in particular being memorably horrific.

The Scar (*****) may be China Mieville's masterpiece, a rich and captivating weird novel of the fantastic. It is available now in the UK and USA.
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1 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The Scar, 1 April 2008
By 
D Brookes (Sheffield, UK) - See all my reviews
This review is from: The Scar (Paperback)
It really can't be rated as less than five stars. "Perdido Street Station" will always be "the Mieville book to read", but "The Scar" froths with similar brilliance, surprises and shocks always under the surface.

The story is masterfully composed, and I don't say this lightly; plot and pacing are perfect, with the story dipping and rising exactly when necessary to keep the story moving satisfactorily. The locations here are beautiful and terrifying, expanding on the marvelous world that Mieville created with "Perdido Street Station" - an island populated by horrific mosquito people; a floating city of ships and barges lashed together with tarred ropes, populated by all forms of life; and shadowy glimpses of a dark city from which a secret has been stolen and brought to the floating city.

There is a magnificence to the politics that Mieville is showing us, mixed with truths of our own past and present, which really bring the novel to life. It's difficult to image the story without the political wrangling that the various rulers of the city undertake; and, the net result being the search and capture of one of the largest and most powerful entities in our dimension and the next, even word is astutely relevant. The goals of the characters are crystal clear even when they are hidden, if that makes sense, as though the world is so perfectly realised before being written that it was alive before it was even on the page. It's all hyperbole I know, but it's a struggle for a reviewer who is also a fan of the author not to gush with joy with each new work. It thrills me to even rememeber the first time I read "The Scar"!
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1 of 2 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Sinks without trace, 13 Feb. 2011
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This review is from: The Scar (Paperback)
Mieville no doubt has a great imagination. The opening three or four pages to the book were also excellent, describing an underwater scene with a real feeling of grandeur and rich writing akin to poetry. I was hooked. I enjoyed the bizarre concepts and the beginning of the novel where much of the farmework was set up before we arrive at Armada. Unfortunately, the book then jogged lazily along for a 500 or so pages in a rather mundane manner. Mieville is far better at concepts than at characterisation. I felt as if I had no idea about the omnipresent Bellis, or Tanner, the Lovers, Brucolac or the enigmatic Doul. Nor did I much care. The book ultimately was a great disappointment - we were even cheated of a proper ending and missed the confrontation between two key figures. I can sort of see why people rate this author, but for me there are better authors out there with stories that actually go places. In the genre, I'd recommend Martin, Reynolds, or Abercrombie as being far more polished and entertaining reads.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Wonderful read, 10 Jan. 2015
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This review is from: The Scar (Paperback)
China has produced an exotic fantasy story that is enthralling and engaging in equal measure, a must read.
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3 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A stupendously imaginative book, 11 Sept. 2009
This review is from: The Scar (Paperback)
"The Scar" is Mieville's second book in the series set in the fictional world of Bas-Lag, following obliquely on from the events of Perdido Street Station, although you don't need to have finished Perdido Street Station to read it, because it stands on its own perfectly well as a vast intertwined mystery, fantasy, voyage of discovery, monument to weirdness, and in my view is a better book than its predecessor.

The protagonist here is Bellis Coldwine, a chain-smoking, strait-laced allumeuse in the Adora Belle Dearheart mould. Obviously steampunk heroines are In. It would be paltry to describe Bas-Lag, the world of "The Scar", as merely steampunk, however. There's clockwork, and there are airships, there's electricity as a minor alchemical force, but there are also any number of fantastically realised demi-human races, there's a perilously half-understood thaumaturgy, there are at least two Artifacts and Relics (one of which is the best-suited magic item to the d20 system that I have ever seen), and most impressively, there's an entirely alien philosophy which is implicit in the stunningly original, totally satisfying, end to the novel. This is a world where not only human laws, but even the most fundamental laws of the universe are nomic - I mean that over time they can be entirely rewritten from within. This is not a world where Einstein can assert "God does not play dice" ... such gods as there are in Bas-Lag, if they exist, not only play dice, but are not above maliciously substituting a polyhedral die with extra sides, or even finding out for their own part that an arbitrary shift in geometry has made such polyhedra impossible ... The result is a richly realised world which is also remorselessly capricious and bleak. For me the most poignant scenes in the book are those where the characters come close to realising that, if they can be said to have free will in such a world, it is surely irrelevant; but still, in the face of this, they continue to fight, love, dream, salvage their honour; with few exceptions, they don't (or maybe they can't) lose their essential humanity.

This novel is a treat for anyone who likes words. Mieville is obviously one of those people who aims for a wriggly red underlining reprimand from Bill Gates in every sentence of his prose, and the use of language is terrific, poetic but never opaque, although frequently repulsive, with enough left-field references ("ooh, chatarang! The Wasp in a Wig!") to make you feel really clever. There's only one exception to this and it is dialogue. Elsewhere the vocabulary has a Shakespearian richness, so as a reader, I did feel a bit let down by the fact that pretty much every character in the book, in extremis, converses like the people who hang around outside Denaby Netto, i.e. centred around a single swear word. Even Bellis turns out as the story goes on to be the woman who speaks nine languages and can't say "Bother" in any of them. This is a shame, because in all other respects the novel is big and it is clever - spectacularly so, & provides so much entertainment that it would be petty of this reviewer to dock a star for cussing. So five stars, but you might have to block your ears and hum loudly during some of the dialogue. Worth it, though. I couldn't finish Perdido Street Station, but I have read this book twice and will certainly return to it with pleasure.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars, 24 July 2014
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From beginning to end I wass stunned by CMs writing, his characters and the smell of the sea
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1 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Genius, 14 May 2003
This review is from: The Scar (Hardcover)
Wow. This is a stunning book. I was a little dissapointed at first that the story instantly heads away from New Crobuzon and I have to say that I missed Issac, but suddenly there are new characters and a new city to get engrossed in. Armada is not as appealing as New Crobuzon but the story develops rapidly and it wasn't long before I was completely hooked.
China Mieville's writing is maturing rapidly, when you look at the progression from King Rat to Perdido then Perdido to the Scar, it leaves me reeling in anticipation for his next book. I missed reading the Scar the moment I finished it and wished I could erase my memory of it and enjoy it all over again! No such luck, roll on the next one!
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4.0 out of 5 stars Four Stars, 10 Nov. 2014
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Another great book from China Mielville. The ending is a bit flat hence only 4 stars
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The Scar
The Scar by China Mieville (Paperback - 4 April 2003)
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