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4.4 out of 5 stars
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on 25 May 2017
Second book in the New Crobuzon "series". It works quite well as a standalone novel, there are a few references to Perdido Street Station but nothing essential. While I would always recommend to start with Perdido Street Station (a great book as well in my opinion), The Scar is probably my favorite Mieville's book. I simply can not fathom the depths of this man's imagination. The weird, the wonderful, the outright incredible and amazing...it's all there. This was one of those books I simply did not want to end and I can not give greater praise than that.
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on 2 June 2017
China Miéville is a master at creating fantastically bizarre and complex worlds which are at the same time gritty and real. The plot was generally excellent too - though I have to say (slight spoiler?) that the ending was not as satisfying as I'd hoped, seemed rather anti climatic after all the lead up, but maybe that's just me.
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on 3 July 2017
My son loves this series so bought it for his birthday.
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on 19 July 2017
dark disturbing and thoroughly absorbing read
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on 24 July 2013
"Scars are not injuries, Tanner Sack. A scar is a healing. After injury, a scar is what makes you whole."

The Scar lives up to its title. Everything and everyone at the core of this story is at a different stage of healing. Whether they have physical wounds, broken emotional bonds or tears in the world itself, everything will eventually leave a scar. Mieville has managed to craft a follow-up to Perdido Street Station which touches on deeper themes of loneliness and belonging. And pirates. Where Perdido Street Station was an introduction to the city of New Crobuzon, The Scar is far more wide-ranging; leaving New Crobuzon for climates new, and to places altogether much stranger than the city it leaves behind.

Bellis Coldwine is the central protagonist of The Scar. Continuing the theme of unorthodox central protagonists from Perdido Street Station, Bellis is a linguist. She's named aptly; cold, mostly humourless and consistently conflicted by her own decisions. The novel begins in New Crobuzon, but Bellis quickly leaves, believing herself to be in danger from the militia. (In a nice nod to the events of Perdido Street Station) She finds herself a job onboard a naval ship as a translator; a ship which has a cargo of more than just trade goods. But this is all just set-up for the real storyline. When Bellis' ship is taken by pirates and press-ganged into the floating city of ships known as Armada, she finds herself much further from home than she ever wished to be. And the rulers of Armada have bigger plans than anyone could possibly imagine - leading them to the greatest beast in the seas and the source of unimaginable power.

The Scar is a little shorter than Perdido Street Station, but still comes in at a hefty length. However, Mieville has managed to hone his talents between the two novels to create a book which moves along at a near perfect pace, from set-piece to set-piece. Where Perdido Street Station was a little flabby in its first quarter and to some extent in its last quarter, The Scar always moves briskly, and yet always allows the characters and setting room to breathe. On top of that, the plot is an absolute stunner - each individual part building to a huge climax and then starting all over again, but building on what's come before.

In terms of imagination, Mieville is completely unleashed here. Perdido Street Station was layered with atmosphere and some very original ideas, but The Scar just goes one step further. New Crobuzon was a living city - you could feel every layer of grime seep into you as you read it. But Armada, the main setting for The Scar, could not be more different. I've never seen anything like it before. A floating city, made up of press-ganged ships from centuries of pillage, it is an incredible idea and expertly described by Mieville - and yet never to the point of overdoing it. The setting is there to tell part of the story - it's just an incredible thing to behold on top of that.

Another area where Mieville improves on from Perdido Street Station is his cast of characters. As entertaining as they were in Perdido, only two or three had any real level of depth. The others felt like side-characters. Here, though, even the minor characters feel well-realised and important to the progression of the story. Whether it's the reMade marine engineer, Tanner Sack, the effective rulers of Armada, The Lovers or the particularly awe-inspiring Uther Doul and his possibility sword, they all feel like they could live beyond the pages.

With The Scar, China Mieville has managed to build on the success of Perdido Street Station to create a novel which expands the world of Bas-Lag and tells a much more thematically cohesive story. You could read it with no prior knowledge of Perdido Street Station quite easily - some may even recommend you do so. But I think you'd miss out on the joy of having read that foundation which Mieville built in the last book. Where Perdido Street Station was essentially a very clever monster hunt, The Scar is a tale of just that: scars. The scars of relationships old and new. The scars of flesh, memory and emotion. The scars from political, personal and social wounds created in the previous Bas-Lag novel. And the scars of the very earth itself. It's a seriously accomplished novel, and the best I've read from Mieville yet.
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on 2 April 2017
There’s no denying Miéville’s creative talents, and in THE SCAR he has produced an imaginative tour de force. Bas-Lag is a superbly crafted world (presumably much of this crafting took place while writing Perdido Street Station, but I haven’t read that yet) populated by a rich diversity of creatures, and imbued with a fascinating mythology and wonderfully arcane alchemical lore. This alone makes the book worth reading but it also has a compelling narrative to add to the enjoyment. Miéville’s prose is, as always, elegant and poised, although there are a few rather clumsy passages dotted throughout the 800 pages. There are also a few sections which feel a little like padding and which could have been omitted without the narrative suffering. That said THE SCAR is never tedious or a chore to read. I was, however, a tad disappointed with the ending, which struck me as somewhat anti-climactic given what had gone before. All the necessary material for a more revelatory and satisfying ending is present within the story but instead Miéville chooses to abruptly terminate the narrative, leaving many of the main plot threads hanging, and thus denying the reader a fulfilling conclusion. I wonder if the author dislikes big finishes, seeing them, perhaps, as something of a cheap trick. Whatever his reasons, I personally would have liked a flourish of some kind at the end of such an epic tale. This small annoyance aside, however, I wholeheartedly recommend THE SCAR.
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on 24 April 2002
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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on 10 January 2015
China has produced an exotic fantasy story that is enthralling and engaging in equal measure, a must read.
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on 28 July 2006
The second book after the innocuously titled "Perdido Street Station" builds upon the wonderfully leftfield creation from Britain best fantasy writer China Mielville. Insanely descriptive and awash with strange creatures fathomed from a otherworldly conscience this book is brimming full of ideas. Mielville tells the story of a pirate nation searching for a well of power found within a fabled scar, a rent in the bottom of the ocean. This is a backdrop for a myriad of subplots and twists involving politics, war and people. Motivations are mapped out and charted in rich detail that bring you into the tale and help expand the world of Bas-Lag. There are wider horizons than New Crobuzon but the echoing desire to explore that city from the first book is felt by the central character well carved out but never overshadowing the numerous other players in the tale.
Miellville never disappoints in this weighty tome and leaves one wanting to find out more about what makes this world tick and what indeed fuels his mind.
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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. The Brucolac, a real, practical vampire; Silas Fennac, the New Crobuzon spy; Tanner Sack, a Remade man who is the epitome of loyalty yet will still betray his chosen country of allegiance; each character adds their own touch of flavor and complexity to this bitter and compelling tea. And in the distance are The Lovers, erstwhile commanders of the motley collection of ships that make up the Armada, defined by their odd sexual practices, practices that leave them mirror-image scarred, a metaphor in flesh of China's thematic investigation of the cuts and scarring that happen to and are part of the definition of everyone.

China's strength is his incredibly descriptive prose, much in evidence here, but the picture he paints is not as monochromatically dark as it is Perdido Street Station, as he dips his pen with bits and swirls color, highlights poking out of his black felt. His pictures of his diverse creatures are not as detailed as they were in the earlier novel, especially not for those creatures and near-human species that not new to this book. For this reason alone, I recommend reading Perdido Street Station first, so that one comes to this book steeped in the environment, the depressive bleakness of the earlier work.

The plot is a continual set of twisting surprises and seeming diversions, but each part is fully tied to the climax of this work. In this area, this book far exceeds his earlier work, showing all the signs of meticulous planning, where each element is necessary to the story, and events are driven by the complex interaction of each of his characters, rather than mere happenstance or coincidence.

My only real complaint with this book was the Coda that is tacked on after the main climax. While this Coda neatly wraps up all the unanswered questions and provides closure to some of the splinter stories, I felt it was unnecessary and spoiled the power of the highly emotional main ending line.
With this book, I feel that China has entered the top flight of today's speculative fiction writers, mature, confident of his mastery of the art of story telling, with a voice that uniquely and compellingly his own. I predict this book will take all the various awards for this year, and I can look forward to many more years and many more great reads from this brilliant new fable spinner.
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