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The Scar Paperback – 4 Apr 2003

4.4 out of 5 stars 65 customer reviews

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Product details

  • Paperback: 624 pages
  • Publisher: Tor; New edition edition (4 April 2003)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0330392905
  • ISBN-13: 978-0330392907
  • Product Dimensions: 11.1 x 3.6 x 17.8 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (65 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 581,065 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Product Description

Amazon Review

The question was always: what would he do for an encore? China Mieville's third novel The Scar is set in the same world as his award-winning Perdido Street Station but is a very different book, set in a very different city. Where his New Crobuzon was an old metropolis of cruelty, oppression and glamour, the floating freebooter city Armada is a place of refuge even for those who experience it as a prison. Brilliant linguist Bellis Coldwine is on the run when she is press-ganged by pirates who turn out to be rather more; her abilities make her a valuable commodity and she finds herself intermittently useful to a project so ambitious that it takes her much of the book to comprehend fully. Mieville takes interesting chances by making Bellis his protagonist--she has an arrogant selfishness that at times makes one breathless--but her guts, determination and intermittent realism about herself gradually endear her to us. This is an intelligent book about how individuals and events influence each other and the meaning of freedom. Mieville has a sense of the sea as the place of a menace almost incomprehensibly huge; like Perdido Street Station, The Scar is full of breath-taking moments of wonder which are also moments of heart-stopping terror. --Roz Kaveney --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.


The reaction to China Mi ville's Perdido Street Station was remarkable: few books in the SF and fantasy field achieve the acclaim of this dark masterpiece. Its seaborne successor is rich with the same vaunting imagination and cannily wrought prose. A ship sets out on a voyage from New Crobuzon towards a new colony, its hold full of criminals to be used as slaves. It passes over inshore waters ruled by a race of human-lobster centaurs, is pursued by demonic mermen, and is captured by a floating pirate city tugged across the sea by a giant beast. This fantastical voyage of exploration and discovery coruscates with Mi ville's unstoppable imagination, and the inventiveness takes the breath away. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

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Customer Reviews

4.4 out of 5 stars
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Top Customer Reviews

Format: Hardcover
From the author who gave us the brilliant and phantasmagoric 'Perdido Street Station' comes a new work similarly brimming with wit, inventiveness and interest.
The author's use of language to paint vivid and engaging pictures is just as evident as in 'Perdido Street Station'. Sights which could be comic if handled only slightly differently hold chilling and at times repellent fascination. Mieville's ability to capture the essence of s scene, person or thing within the space of a few words is one of the things which makes 'The Scar' a truly enjoyable read.
However, it's not one for the faint hearted. The author is certainly emergining as one of the finest current exponents of weird fiction. His books blur the boundary between fantasy, SF, horror and all manner of traditional genres, giving a sense of the truly new and innovative. Like any author, there's a certain amount of hat-tipping to favourite and inspirational writers, yet the book has a freshness of idea and place which marks it out from others. The story starts off simply, with the escape of one character from the sprawl of New Crobuzon, the transporting of prisoners across the sea, acts of piracy and the amazing appearance of familiar objects (you'll know what I mean when you come to them).
All in all, if you enjoyed 'King Rat' or 'Perdido Street Station', then you'll most certainly enjoy 'The Scar'. If you've not read the authors work before, then I'd heartily recommend this and all of his novels.
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By Joanne Sheppard TOP 1000 REVIEWER on 27 Dec. 2011
Format: Paperback
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 still rather struck me as someone I might want to punch. One of the things I did like about Perdido Street Station, however, was New Crobuzon, the huge, corrupt city state in which the station lies, and I wanted to explore it further. So I bought The Scar.

Which turned out not to be set in New Crobuzon at all.

Fortunately, it doesn't matter. I thoroughly enjoyed The Scar anyway.

The only real link to Perdido Street Station in The Scar is Bellis Coldwine, the lead character. A gifted linguist who works as a translator, she is apparently suspected of being somehow guilty by association in connection with some of the events of Perdido Street Station, and has been forced to flee New Crobuzon as a result on a ship that carries voluntary passengers hoping to make a new life for themselves, as well as convicts to be used as slave labour. Midway through the journey, the ship is attacked by pirates, and the surviving passengers, crew and slaves are taken to live in Armada, a floating city of countless plundered ships. Reluctantly trapped in a city she will never call home, Bellis becomes embroiled in a complex plan by the mysterious, disfigured Lovers, who largely rule Armada, to tap into the potential of 'The Scar', a fragile flaw in reality which could provide them with limitless power.

Armada itself is an outlandish creation, but nevertheless Mieville mostly manages not to show off about it.
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Format: Paperback
Given the huge success of China Mieville's second novel Perdido Street Station, a follow-up was eagerly expected, but Mieville has bucked expectation by setting The Scar in an entirely different area of Bas-Lag - as such readers hoping for a return journey to the vivid city of New Crobuzon will be disappointed, though to be fair having explored it so thoroughly already any follow-up utilising the same setting may well have suffered from diminishing returns. Instead The Scar is set almost entirely on the floating city state of Armada - a pirate city that is comprised of a mass of stolen ships lashed together, and follows the fortunes of two shanghaied inhabitants: one of whom is desperate to escape, and the other who having been rescued from a prison ship finds a haven on Armarda.
As such, The Scar is the best sort of sequel, in that it is only tangentially linked to the previous novel - in this instance the lead heroine is initially on the run from New Crobuzon because she is wrongly suspected of being involved with the Slake Moth outbreak that drove Perdido Street Station. However, while you don't therefore NEED to have read Perdido Street Station in order to enjoy The Scar, I would still recommend reading the previous volume first for one simple reason - it's slightly better.
The Scar is filled with fantastic concepts -the city of Armada itself; the leviathan avanc that the Armadan's plan to harness to their city; an island of terrifying mosquito women; and a scar in the fabric of Bas-Lag seemingly created by a crashed alien spaceship that bleeds out quantum instability, and the characters are compelling, but the crucial difference between The Scar and Perdido Street Station is the lack of narrative tension this time round.
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Format: Hardcover
China has once more returned us to the land of the wildly weird, the stuff of nightmares, the packaging around an intensely complicated plot of obsession, mystery, betrayal, and twisted desire. Set in the world of Bas-Lag that he first introduced to us in Perdido Street Station, this work shows us a much wider view, a diorama of images and creatures that at first blush seem incredibly impossible, not related to our world at all, but one quickly finds motivations and emotions that ring around both your heart and your head.

Tinges of Melville surround the overarching story of the hunt and capture of a true miles-wide Leviathan, but trying to pigeonhole China is an impossible task, as one finds elements from Bram Stroker to Dickens to Richard Burton all thoroughly churned into this mix that China makes uniquely his own. Trying to predict what will happen or what a character will do is an exercise in futility, doomed to failure as China continuously surprises you. His characters, for all their incredible physiognomy, are recognizably human, richly detailed while maintaining depths that are just out of reach.

Uther Doul is a true man of mystery, wielding his Possible Sword and twisting events (and possibilities?) for his own unknown desires, the prime mover of the events in this story. Bellis Coldwine is the main viewpoint character, in some ways equivalent to Ishmael of Moby Dick, an observer who nonetheless takes important actions that have definite influences on the final outcome; cold, distant, but yet one who gets caught in more than one love affair.
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