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Railways, Golems, China Mieville, What's not to like?
on 8 February 2014
This perhaps the book in Mieville's loose Bas lag trilogy that sits the least well with the other two. Whilst the first two are excellent adventure stories, they can stand alone as incredibly inventive fantasy. Perdido could also possibly fit in the horror genre as well, Whilst The Scar is an excellent "pirate' tale (although i use that term very loosely, for that is only the basis for this excellent epic piece of fantasy). Both were marked by their excellent world building and characterisation, something which i hope means that these books will be around for a very long time. Iron council on the other hand, is a completely different affair to the other two, being a story set in an already defined world, but being a story more of ideas than anything else. The concept of the Iron council, the runaway train turned revolutionary state is excellent, and it is this idea that dominates the storyline, Characters and everything else fall by the wayside, although this possibly helps the narrative, with the sheer insignificance of ordinary people against the monothlithic state that is new Crobuzon, and the way they are just caught in and driven by events. The fact that the characters are less involving does make the end result a little less rousing than the other two books, but this is more of a slow burner, and is perhaps the most powerful of the trilogy. It's just so completely different from the other two that many readers seem to have difficulty making the transition. It can be a tough read, particularly as Mieville seems to have broken the english language, but it is well worth the effort.