It is a time of revolts and revolutions, conflict and intrigue. New Crobuzon is being ripped apart from without and within. War with the shadowy city-state of Tesh and rioting on the streets at home are pushing the teeming metropolis to the brink. In the midst of this turmoil, a mysterious masked figure spurs strange rebellion, while treachery and violence incubate in unexpected places. In desperation, a small group of renegades escapes from the city and crosses strange and alien continents in the search for a lost hope, an undying legend. In the blood and violence of New Crobuzon's most dangerous hour, there are whispers. It is the time of the Iron Council.More
"Miéville has reshaped modern fantasy, as readers of the award-winning Perdido Street Station and The Scar know very well, and he's done so by rejecting epic romance à la Tolkien for what one might call Zolaesque magic naturalism. Miéville's signature city, New Crobuzon, is populated by the human, the insectoid, the genetically remade, and altogether teems with the kind of grotesques one associates with Bosch paintings, the gnarly art (both verbal and pictorial) of Mervyn Peake or the night-club scene in Star Wars. There are no generic happy endings here." (The Washington Post)
"China Miéville's new novel takes place in the same world as Perdido Street Station and The Scar, a kind of steampunk milieu furnished by clockwork engines (here we see the invention of the phonograph), electrified by magic ("thaumaturgy"), and populated by an improbable variety of sentient life-forms. It tells the story of industrial action on a railway - which, this being fantasy fiction, is more colourful than a day of commuter misery at Waterloo." (The Guardian)
"Full of warped and memorable characters, this violent and intensely political novel smoothly combines elements of fantasy, science fiction, horror, even the western." (Publishers' Weekly)
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Excellent story, shame about the narration
- Simon Roots
Even with the best will in the world....
I am a bit of a Mieville fan having loved "The city and the city" and the first two New Crobuzon books to bits. I came to this willing to plunge into any wierdness that China proposed. I had saved it up for my holidays for over 6 months after I purchased it, smuggling it with me like a precious pleasure postponed. I got halfway through and I had to give up and I am confused as to exactly why. The politics that other reviewers mention did not frighten me nor the experimental nature of it. I was looking forward to more Mieville challenges. I am not sure who it is aimed at since as an admirer of Mieville's writing I was left disappointed and those who have not already been introduced to New Crobuzon will be left totally confused. Die hard fans who brook no criticism perhaps?
Of course but with more trepidation having been bitten by this. Fair play to him for trying something new and I may even have a go at the print version to see if it was the content or the delivery. I will have to wait for a whlle though, until the bad taste leaves my ears. My current feeling is that I hope China listens to his editor the next time he tells him to tighten it up a bit. Mieville is an amazing writer and I would love him to take this one back to the drawiing board because it is full of great ideas.
I think the narrator was as lost as the rest of us and if so that might have been part of the problem. It is narrated with willing enough enthusiasm in spots but the long gaps between sentences leaves them disjointed. The mysterious disappearance of any inflection from time to time reminded me of my own reading to my kids when I hate the book (Postman flippin' Pat or something) and just want to be somewhere else so I start reading on autopilot. Is this the narrator's fault? I don't know but the listless narration was the straw that broke this camel's back. I must admid that John Lee on the city and the city and Janathan Oliver on Perdido St Station were more to my taste.
I rather liked the idea all of the characters and the references to characters from the other books but they did not breathe.
I think my biggest problem with this was the highly intrusive and continuous use of the historic present which, once it thrust itself into my face, particularly in the flashback sequences, obscured anything else the book might have been trying to do. I suspect it may have been the root of the problems for the narrator or maybe it was the narrators handling of it that was the problem for me. In any case, as much as I absolutely hate to give a bad review, I have to say that this one was a waste of my hard earned cash and my holiday reading time. Luckily I had brought a few print books with me on the hols and they worked out much better once I had given this up as a bad job. With the best will in the world I just couldn't get into it.