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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 A Prelude to a Masterpiece is a Masterpiece Itself, 12 April 2012
By 
This review is from: King Rat (Paperback)
Several years ago, I was in the FNAC bookstore in Brussels when I came across this book. The title had something appealing which I could not quite decipher.
Thus I bought it and thank the God of readers for that: I stumbled head first on an extraordinary, eerily dark and violent fantasy story, but most of all a truly original one. Finding an original story is like finding a second Koh-I-Noor in your backyard. That is, rather rare.

The main myth here is that of the Pied Piper of Hamelin against an aesthetic of drum'n'bass jungle music.

Modus operandi of this reader for the purchase selection process: check the title, read the back of the book, then open it in a random page and read that page. Does it capture your interest? No? Put it back on the shelf. Yes? Proceed to a second random reading. If the feeling is the same, check the author's other books. If it is book three with the same hero, probably leave it and repeat the MO with book one, if the impression was that good. But if is a debut of an author, and you feel something there after the two random reads, then risk it. It might be worthwhile. The "debut novel" check was a hit. This was the first book of China Mieville.

I started reading Mr. Mieville's book that same evening in a bistro in Grand Place.
It was not an easy read. I had been reading books in English for quite a few years by then and I had the occasional unknown word here and there. But Mieville's books are too complex by far in terms of vocabulary and metaphors at least for a non-native speaker. I had to jump back and forth to understand the images and situations narrated.

On top of that, drum'n'bass jungle music just isn't my thing. I am a hard rock / heavy metal fan, with the occasional flare for celtic/irish music.

But I was swept away. The vividness of the imagery, the dark matter that formed while the story was building up, the eloquence of the writing and its flow, kept me at the edge of my seat. And this was only a debut book...

The main hero is Saul. Saul is living in London and he is accused for his father's gruesome death. He is arrested by the police and held in the police station, where a strange man appears in front of him and claims to be his father. He also claims to be King Rat, the monarch of all rats. He also claims to be half man half rodent. He tells Saul that he is his real father and takes him along (freeing him from the cell) through a gravity-defying ride over the rooftops of London's nightscape.

There will be a clash between father and son, the concepts loosing their definition since the animal nature inherits part of Saul's psyche while the part of the human nature in Saul brings him closer to the dead man who raised him.
While the killer of Saul's father lurks somewhere out there waiting for his chance to strike...

Buy this book and then go for "Perdido Street Station" and immerse yourselves to in the extraordinary mind an outstanding author. Seriously.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars An unusual blend of fairy tale and horror, 24 Feb 2000
By A Customer
This review is from: King Rat (Paperback)
For a new writer he's very good. The story has a very strange but intriging plot. I wish he wouldn't keep writing about the rhythm of Jungle music, how the notes soar and dive and intermingle with bass, and the bass holding then a high note pitching an' all that (y'know what I mean)....it does my head in, I honestly don't understand what he was going on about. He uses a lot of British slang in King Rat's dialogue.....that gives me a headache also as I'm sure it did with many readers. It's fine is you're bred and raised in London but for an English girl who is raised on the Far Eastern side of the world much of what he wrote meant nothing to me...so I had to make wild guesses. Anyway, I don't want to make the poor lad feel bad, it is his first book after all. He has a lot of promise and a good style, and I will follow his work.
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2 of 2 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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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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6 of 7 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Interesting ideas held in a strait jacket, 16 Oct 2000
By A Customer
This review is from: King Rat (Paperback)
China Mieville is quite frighteningly inventive, and the synthesis of myth (used in the inclusive sense) and culture in King Rat is interesting, but I found that the scale of the book was constricting. Having read Perdido Street Station I saw just what China Mieville is capable of; in King Rat he just doesn't let his imagination soar in the same way.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Another good one!, 28 Jan 2014
By 
C. M. Jordan "CJ" (UK) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
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This review is from: King Rat (Kindle Edition)
I really enjoyed this one, located in a slightly off key London a totally weird story with enough reality in it to prevent it becoming 'fantasy fiction'. Excellent! I'm not sure I'd like to live in China Miéville's head though....
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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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King Rat
King Rat by China Mieville (Paperback - 6 May 2011)
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