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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars My 100-word book review
First novel by inventive left-wing fantasy author China Mieville, in which young Saul Garamond comes to terms with his true identity as a half-rat superhero, after the murder of his father. Set in the shadowy, seamy underbelly of London, this novel is also about the esoteric world of drum-and-bass music. The characterisation is fairly flat, and there really should be a...
Published on 7 Mar. 2006 by A. J. Cull

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12 of 12 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Unusual, but not his best
What you can't deny Mr Mieville is his talent in having exuberant fantasy and coming with the most original ideas possible. In this book he blends persuasively urban folklore, fairytale characters, modern rhythms and poetry of London dehumanized city hectic. The plot is rather simplistic, but has enough of little twists and grisly descriptions.
However, the drawls of...
Published on 27 July 2001 by oamaz


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12 of 12 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Unusual, but not his best, 27 July 2001
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This review is from: King Rat (Paperback)
What you can't deny Mr Mieville is his talent in having exuberant fantasy and coming with the most original ideas possible. In this book he blends persuasively urban folklore, fairytale characters, modern rhythms and poetry of London dehumanized city hectic. The plot is rather simplistic, but has enough of little twists and grisly descriptions.
However, the drawls of dialects his characters use are hardly intelligible sometimes, and detailed descriptions of Jungle music may bore you (if you're not the fan).
A promising "try of the pen", but to enjoy China Mieville's talent to the last drop, read the superb Perdido Train Station (completely different in plot and settings)!
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars My 100-word book review, 7 Mar. 2006
By 
A. J. Cull (London, UK) - See all my reviews
(VINE VOICE)   
This review is from: King Rat (Paperback)
First novel by inventive left-wing fantasy author China Mieville, in which young Saul Garamond comes to terms with his true identity as a half-rat superhero, after the murder of his father. Set in the shadowy, seamy underbelly of London, this novel is also about the esoteric world of drum-and-bass music. The characterisation is fairly flat, and there really should be a bit more of a background to Saul; King Rat is not quite in the same league as the Bas-Lag novels, but still displays a brilliant imagination, and a rather anarchic mix and match approach which I find very stimulating.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Good start, but not his best..., 30 Dec. 2002
By 
Jacob Sam-La Rose "Jsamlarose" (London, England United Kingdom) - See all my reviews
This review is from: King Rat (Paperback)
Just finished reading King Rat, and I have to agree with most of the other reviews - the ideas are certainly inventive, points awarded for use of myth/fairytale in combination with contemporary culture, and an interesting anti-monarchy theme... but the writing simply isn't as well crafted as his later work. Personally, being an afficionado of both drum n' bass music AND fantasy/speculative literature, I loved what he tried to do - and the book is certainly readable, just not as well-written as Perdido St Station...
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Excellent., 18 Mar. 2012
By 
plot hound (Dublin, Ireland) - See all my reviews
This review is from: King Rat (Paperback)
A dark urban fantasy that really keeps you interested.

All the characters are believable and likeable or interesting.

The plot weaves myths and fairy-tales into a dark and brutal urban setting with real deaths and emotions.

There are plenty of twists and turns as Saul learns about the hidden world he has entered.

There is plenty of action and some flashes of humour.

This feels a little like "Neil Gaiman" but the depth and quality is much higher.

Original and very entertaining.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Garbage, 21 Dec. 2013
By 
Sam Quixote - See all my reviews
(TOP 50 REVIEWER)   
This review is from: King Rat (Paperback)
Saul is framed for the murder of his father and sent to jail where he's somehow broken out by a mysterious character calling himself King Rat. King Rat reveals Saul's mother was secretly a rat and that he belongs underneath London, in a dark and magical place among the rats!

This was my first China Mieville book and might be my last - it certainly made no positive impression on me to make me want to seek out more of this author's work. The main character, Saul, is a charmless cipher, bumbling around while things happen to him. The title character is interesting, at least partially. King Rat is shadowy, otherworldly, though it's difficult to picture him and Mieville does little to build up much of an image of the character. He's King of the Rats but he's quasi-human, or at least big enough as a human but he's not entirely rat-like? I never knew. And he's magic or something and he's also a ninja - whaaa? Then when Saul becomes rat-ish - just from eating garbage, by the way! - I don't know what form he takes. Is he still human after that or...? Whatever. And apparently eating trash gives him ninja powers!

Ironically, Mieville suffocates what little plot there is with an abundance of descriptive passages describing London over and over again. Reading about the urban environment might be interesting but not in the way Mieville writes about it, it isn't. You like London and see a dirty beauty in trash-strewn alleys, I get it - but to pad out entire chapters with these descriptions is overindulgent.

I gave up on this after 150 pages, slogging my way through yet another description of a street and deciding I couldn't read another 260 pages of this slop. King Rat, the only character worth reading about, had gone by that point; there was a hint of the Pied Piper myth that seemed corny as hell; Saul and his dreary friends were now the focus and their lack of personality had bored me silly; and the (for sake of argument, let's call it) story hadn't moved forward in 50 pages. Enough! my brain yelled. I dropped the book and immediately felt better for it!

Published in the late 90s, I suppose the publisher had noticed Neil Gaiman's TV show/comic book/novel Neverwhere doing well at this time and wanted to capitalise on it with something similar, but King Rat isn't even close to Neverwhere (itself only a mediocre story). King Rat belongs amid the rubbish its characters revel in. Mieville has his fans but I'm definitely not among them.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A weird, wonderful and grimy urban update of the Pied Piper, 21 Dec. 2012
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This review is from: King Rat (Kindle Edition)
When Saul Garamond's father is murdered, Saul's the only suspect. Arrested and locked in a cell, his life gets weird when he's rescued by a mysterious man called King Rat who needs his help to defeat an old enemy. King Rat introduces Saul to London's grimy underbelly, a world of sewers and vermin where every rubbish bin carries food fit for a king and reveals a secret about who Saul really is ...

Saul must come to terms with these revelations just as he begins to realise the threat posed by the Ratcatcher who's already taken an interest in Saul's friends, DJ Natasha and Fabian another musician and he has plans that expand far beyond King Rat's world.

China Mieville's first novel is a weird, grimy urban update of and riff on The Pied Piper of Hamelin. It's a highly stylised work that crackles with originality and vision and kept me hooked from beginning to end.

Saul Garamond is an interesting character, a man who's made little of his life and who feels as if he disappointed his left wing father. His sense of bewilderment at his father's strange death is the emotional catalyst for his descent into King Rat's world and I admired the way Mieville shows his emotional and physical transformation, descending into London's underworld and reduced to eating garbage but at the same time turning it into a matter of triumphant pride.

Although I liked the way Mieville updated the story of the Pied Piper, his Ratcatcher is an underdeveloped character and I would have liked to have learnt more about his motives and where he came from. However his scenes with Natasha have a creepy intensity to them and I loved the way Mieville describes the underground music scene - I'm not a fan of that type of music but I really understood what draws the characters to it and why they love it because of Mieville's writing.

The central relationship between Saul and King Rat has an interesting dynamic. Rat is venal, self-serving, hated by his own people and utterly desperate and while there are flashes of genuine emotion towards Saul ultimately he's a character beyond redemption and it's a relief that Saul recognises that.

Ultimately I thought this was an enjoyable and imaginative novel that takes familiar subjects and does something fresh and original with them. Anyone who enjoys urban fantasy should check it out.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Has someone told you that you simply HAVE to read China Mieville? Don't know where to start? Look no further!, 9 July 2010
By 
D. Laurikietis "darkknight_uk" (North West England) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
This review is from: King Rat (Paperback)
Even his critics agree that China Mieville is a genius. His ability to conjure and flesh out worlds with diverse and fascinating characters puts him head and shoulders above many fantasy authors in contemporary fiction. However his dizzying intellect can often create jarring and uncomfortable hurdles for new and / or younger readers. Mieville often pays only a passing nod of respect for narrative conventions and he invents, warps and reappropreates language as he sees fit.

Mieville's debut novel King Rat is a perfect entry point into the author's work. It is far more accessible and reader friendly than the likes of The City and The City (which requires practically every page to be read twice to fully appreciate it) or his Bas_Lag books such as Perdido street station.

King Rat tells the story of Saul, a troubled young man filled with non-specific rage and frustration, the majority of which he misdirects at his well meaning but ultimately ineffectual father. Waking one morning to find his father brutally murdered Saul is instantly whicked away by the police who fancy him the prime suspect for his father's murder.
Languishing in his prison cell Saul is visited by a charismatic, shadowy figure who will reveal that Saul is the heir to a bizarre and incredible legacy. Saul, it appears, is rat royalty!
Newly endowed with preternatural strength and agility as well as the ability to make himself almost completely invivible, Saul must abandon any hopes of returning to his normal life and join King Rat on a campaign of revenge against his father's murderer. The Ratcatcher!

If the story seems cliche that's because it is, but then this is not a book that's trying to invent the wheel. It's a clever and astute mish mash of European folklore, modern fantasy and superhero mythology. Mieville's love of hip hop, drum n bass, multiculturalism and politics make this potentially paint by numbers story throb with raw urban power and his thematic and idiosyncratic traits are a present but a little mopre muted here than in his later works, making King Rat the perfect jumping off point for those seeking to explore China's work!
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Well worth reading!, 5 April 2012
This review is from: King Rat (Kindle Edition)
I was very happy to find this book as I'm always on the look out for GOOD urban fantasy and I can never seem to find it! It's always trigger-happy girls in leather mixed with a liberal dose of supernatural eroticism. This book on the other hand, is much more interesting, definitely in the vein of Neil Gaiman's Neverwhere or the Matthew Swift books by Kate Griffin.
Mieville reinvents the everyday and makes it a little bit magical, taking Jungle and DnB to new levels of meaning. Saul is an interestingly grey character, with different sides- not a an anti-hero, just realistic. Which in many ways describes the book as a whole. Stuff isn't glossed over but neither is it excessive (most of it anyway), for instance the rats are real rats, dirty, smelly and really quite disgusting.
I do have a few quibbles since the Ratcatcher is a bit too much of a stock baddie to be interesting as a villain and there's also a bit too much gory description and violence. So much so that it's not really scary, like a horror film that uses buckets of obviously fake ketchup blood, which breaks the (admittedly surreal) realism.
Also, what the hell is Amazon playing at with that review!? It's a total spoiler. So to anyone reading this review, don't read the description if you haven't already and if you have, attempt to blank it from your mind.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Excellent Read, 19 Mar. 2012
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This review is from: King Rat (Kindle Edition)
Definately a book you can't put down. A little less polished compared to his later work, but even so it still powers ahead of the rest of the crowd.
A blend of fantasy, horror, and myth; and you will be needing a strong stomach to read this. The highlights are the central characters, but the plot runs well and has good, if not entirely unexpected twists. Some of the chase scenes are inspired writing and really manage to catch that will he/ won't he thrill.
As a sci-fi reader, I had put off reading this as it based in near now time; however, I needen't have worried, it was the best book I have read this year. And I heartily recommend the Kindle versions as his books are just so big and heavy.
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14 of 17 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Deep in the Dark, 17 Mar. 2003
By 
Patrick Shepherd "hyperpat" (San Jose, CA USA) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
This review is from: King Rat (Paperback)
For all the many words and apt phrases that Mieville uses, there may be only one word that describes Mieville's works: dark. All of his novels to date have this sense of being written at the bottom of a dank, odiferous, and pitch-black well, to where the tiny bits of color that he allows shine through like the sun after a cloudburst.
For this, his first work, he confines himself to the comparatively mundane setting of underground London, underground in both the physical and slang senses of the word, as we follow the story of Saul Garamond, heir apparent to the King Rat of Pied Piper fame. From the sewers to the rifling of garbage heaps for dinner, Mieville delights in offending your hygienic senses while enticing you with glimpses of a musical sub-culture that is just as strange to the average person as the rarified air of sub-atomic research. Bringing the characters of the ancient fairy tale to life is no small task, and Mieville succeeds admirably in the persons of King Rat and the Pied Piper himself. The Pied Piper comes across as a truly sadistic being, as shown by his actions, though at one point he specifically denies that characterization, while King Rat is easily identified with as the whining, downtrodden person who can never quite reach his goal of revenge. Their conflict is very real and very understandable, couched in a thousand years of remembrances of wrongs done, and is an effective mirror of all too many human interactions.
What is not so well crafted is the character of Saul. His reactions to the impossibility of the reality of King Rat, or to the murder of his father, come across as much too accepting, reactions that no normal person would have. But it is even hard to judge just how close to normal Saul is, as his background, his emotional makeup, his normal life are only sketched in before being plunged into the midnight realm of rats and sewers. The emotional impact of this book would have been greatly enhanced had Saul been given much more development prior to the start of the fairy-tale action. The secondary characters are also given short shrift, and as these characters have important roles to play in the final outcome, this once again subtracts from the full power this story could have had.
For a first novel, this is excellent, already showing signs of Mieville’s imposing command of the English language to evoke mood and feelings, but the necessary cohesiveness between story and character that would make this a great novel is lacking. Still a very entertaining read, worth the time and effort, and very much recommended before tackling his later works of Perdido Street Station and The Scar, where he shows how much more he can accomplish.
--- Reviewed by Patrick Shepherd (hyperpat)
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King Rat by China Mieville (Paperback - 6 May 2011)
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