The Scar Paperback – 4 Apr 2003
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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.See all Product Description
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Top Customer Reviews
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.
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.Read more ›
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.Read more ›
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.Read more ›
Most Recent Customer Reviews
An interesting read but not his best. There was a lot of descriptive repetition which made the novel overly long. Read morePublished 8 days ago by Christopher Derry
This is the first China Mieville novel I have read. It will not be the last. If the literary world did not have its fatuous aversion to genre novels, this would be winning literary... Read morePublished 6 months ago by Manda Scott
Masterful fantasy from China Mieville, hopefully he will return to his Bas-Lag universe at some point and give us more of the same.Published 15 months ago by Mike McClay
No, no, no! I appreciate the ending reflects quite well the title of the book but the ending loses this book a star. Read morePublished 17 months ago by Sera69
My first China Mieville and I love its depth imagination and constant urprisesPublished 17 months ago by M. G. Last
After reading Perdido Street Station, this book seemed a little slow to begin but soon absorbs the reader and gives another wonderful story. Read morePublished 18 months ago by Ian D
China has produced an exotic fantasy story that is enthralling and engaging in equal measure, a must read.Published 18 months ago by UltraGonk