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3.5 out of 5 stars51
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VINE VOICEon 6 February 2014
Mieville's conclusion to the Perdido Street Station trilogy is dense, magical, bewildering and brilliant. Out in the wastes beyond New Crobuzon a rag tag band searches for the legendary Iron Council, a train taken by rebels into the wilderness when the City refused to pay their wages. In New Crobuzon unrest is rife and the people are in covert revolt against their authoritarian rulers, themselves at war against the mysterious Tesh, and the two strands come into painful contact

Mieville introduces us to an incredible cast: Remade, people punished by the authorities by being surgically altered to be part machine; their rebel counterparts the fReemade; magicians; golems; all manner of creatures part bird, bat and insect; stomach churning spells, the visceral urban grit of New Crobuzon and the bewildering landscape outside where smoke turns to stone petrifying its victims and nothing is fixed. And all this in an opaque bewitching language that often had me reaching for the dictionary. Worth the work though.
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on 28 August 2007
Iron Council is the third book Miéville has written in his Bas-Lag world and its biggest city New Crobuzon. In this book, New Crobuzon is in trouble: outside it's tangled up in a war with the distant Tesh and their magic, inside it's tormented by various insurrectionists and rebels.

The book follows mostly three characters. Cutter is a small-scale rebel, who leaves New Crobuzon to find Judah Low. Judah is a somaturge, a golem-maker, who's seeking the Iron Council, which is important and hard to find. Ori is another insurrectionist, a small player who wants to make a difference.

It's an interesting world and once again Miéville has written an interesting book in it. Of all the Bas-Lag books, I still rank The Scar highest, but Iron Council is a very good book, full of curious detail and interesting magic. Miéville's mixture of magic and fantasy with a grim early industrial society is delightful. This is highly recommended, though to aid understanding, I recommend starting with the Perdido Street Station.
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on 13 December 2004
After having been blown away by the first two novels in Mieville's New Crobuzon (where is the original city of Crobuzon I wonder? Is it a bit like York as compared with New York?) series, I was somewhat underwhelmed by Iron Council.
I can't possibly criticise the author for his imagination and use of language (his use of simile and metaphor are amazingly evocative) and I disagree with a previous reviewer, in that I felt the first two thirds of this book were gripping and fascinating.
I particularly like the fact that the novel centres on revolutionary politics - it's not often you see that in this particular genre. It reminds me of the seething seditionist undertow in the Victorian age, often forgotten in mainstream history.
I also love the visceral and solid way the world of New Crobuzon is conjured up by Mieville.
However, I felt the last third of the book was anticlimactic. The way the plot was resolved after the momentous build up was disappointing. I also found that the writing had lost its tightness and I began to skim read to get the book finished.
I wonder whether this is partly because the author had the scale of the fantasy wonders and violence turned up to 11 for too much of Iron Council. In the end, you can't go higher than 11, so where could the novel go in its climax?
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on 5 January 2005
Contrary to a number of reviews, I really enjoyed 'The Iron Council', and read it far more quickly than either 'Perdido Street Station' or 'The Scar'. I continue to wonder, however, whether the author is writing fantasy, science fiction or political polemic. Don't forget he stood as a far left candidate in the last UK General Election. His descriptions of New Crobuzon remind me more and more of Dore etchings of 19th century London - remember the one of huddled terrace housing dominated by a railway viaduct? The descriptions of the building of the 'Transcontintal Railway'remind me of stories of the constructionof the Union Pacific in the USA, again during the 19th century - built. of course, using mainly 'alien' labour. Note the credit that the author gives to Zane Grey. Is Bas-La intended to be the Earth, long in the future, after somecatastrophe has caused numerous mutations? The author uses neologisms created from Latin and Greek - 'heliotype' for photograph, 'voxiterator' for tape recorder/dictaphone/telephone (it is unclear which). The word 'chaver' is used amongstthe conspirators for friend/comrade. Surely this is a Romany word? The currency is in part 'shekels'. Or is this all done to tease and amuse? To doubters, I say, if you enjoyed the previos 'New Crobuzon' novels, read this. To newcomers to Mieville, read the books in the order of writing, to get the full flavour of this amazing world.
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on 4 March 2015
I was really disappointed by this book, which has nothing in common with author's previous book 'Perdido Street Station'. It talked about lots of sex between men and women and men and men, violence and never-ending war. It was really annoying and I tremendously struggled to finish it to get rid off it for good. If author hinted at any government and American government's treatment of its own citizens and the Middle East in particular by talking about New Crobuzon's militiamen, I salute him. But I suspect he was far away from the idea. In this case I am lost what book was about and if there was any sense to waste lifetime by writing it. This book is not definitely the one I would ever read again. I have put it in a bag with other books which I am going to donate. Do not read it, save your breath.
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on 15 August 2005
Some times you get the feeling that that the author is a litle up his own bottom and llikes to show off...i dont know whether thats true or not ,but you can't deny his talent.
He challenges his readers in a similar way to stephen donaldson...although in no way are the stories comparable.
If you want to fully appreciate this book read his others first ...believe me ....they are well worth it........and then this one is much more entertaining.
His rich world of baslag is odd,very odd.Very provocative and hugely entertaining.....this guy is NOT someone just trying to make a fast buck from the genre,not that he would admit to being "in it", he is adding something new, original.
It will appeal to different people in different ways,i loved it.
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on 10 November 2004
WOW WHAT A WRITER!!!! science fiction/fantasy writing has a new star!After the talent that was perdido street station & the scar,which were both challenging,fascinating and gripping who could possibly be brave enough to say that this particular luminary could ever produce anything other than another classic?
well not the sycophantic critics thats for sure.
I loved the two previous books and I really have no axe to grind but this book was a bitter disappointment.
previously fantastic(in every sense)stories were woven around an incredible world populated by amazing characters you soon learned to love or fear,added to that was an incredibly hard edge rarely seen before in this genre.
iron council bothers only to tick the last box in that list,over and over again with a plot so thin a short story would have been pushing it and uninteresting shallow people wandering in and out of the story,when anyone dies it doesnt matter there'll be another dull cipher along in a page or two to fill the tiny void.
the wonderous city of new crobuzon is used as a pre-painted backdrop against which Mieville splatters his wafer thin plot,if you havent read the previous two books the author is not interested in you,and if you have the same old creatures doing the same old things is losing its interest.
As for those who rave about the incredible ending,they need to get out more often,it feels tacked on.
what a shame.what a disappointment.
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on 1 September 2014
If you are a fan of China Miéville, then you will know what to expect. Without a doubt, some of his writing is truly brilliant, and some of his plot twists are equally unexpected.
However, sometime it seems the reader is drawn in a nightmare labyrinth of prose. I have yet to decide whether this is a flaw, or simply just the author writing at a level that is beyond me.
Having said that, this book struck me as being more accessible that previous novels by this author.
Treat this as an exotic meal, complex, and not entirely digestible, but at the same time, novel and the opposite of bland, and I am sure that you will appreciate the read.
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on 25 August 2004
I ordered a copy of the US release of the Iron Council, having immensely enjoyed Perdido Street Station and the Scar. I was really looking forward to delving into New Crobuzon's dark and oppressive alleyways. China has an amazing way with words, the narrative in his novels and novella is superb and truly grips the reader refusing to relinquish is grasp.
Unfortunately, this novel really disappointed me, I found it difficult to get into, highly unlike any of China's other works; and must confess that towards the end of the novel I almost committed the ultimate sin of starting another book, The Scar, to make myself feel better. I found it very difficult to feel anything for the characters in the novel, which is a major departure from China's earlier work.
Don't get me wrong, I enjoyed some parts of the novel; but to me, it feels like a stop gap between fantastic pieces of literature, like the Perdido Street Station and The Scar. I feel that is would have been better served having come out of PS Publishing as a novella, like the Tain, which was very good and didn't have any padding in it.
There was some good material in the novel, the aftermath of the construct council, the cacotopic stain, the nightmares that plagued New Crobuzon some thirty year prior to this novel and Toro, all of which linked nicely into Perdido Street Station, which I had just finished re-reading in anticipation of the Iron Council.
As always, read the novel yourself and make your own mind up, but in my humble opinion, the ending isn't all that. I am just hoping I was having a bad week when I read the novel. I need to re-read The Scar and then I think I will give the iron council another go.
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on 11 August 2013
As each book of the Crozubon series went by so my regard of Mieville lowered.

Someone who thinks flicking through a theasaurus and using elegant word play covers for a lack of character development and poor story.

The first half was unfasthomable, so badly put together I could not tell where it was set, what period it was are really what was happening.

The second half was better but ultimately pointless. Real chore to read and I'm glad I'm finished, so I can never pick up a self indulging Mieville book again.
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