“The Scar” by China Miéville

After three self-published books, I return to traditional publishing, Miéville and my 25 book challenge.

The Scar is set in Bas Lag, the world of the city-state of New Crobuzon, last seen in Perdido Street Station. Bellis Coldwine, a linguist, is escaping her beloved city of New Crobuzon because of the events of Perdido Street Station (no spoilers, but you’ll recognise some references if you’ve read it) by enlisting as a translator on a colony and prison ship. The ship carries a very disparate group of people, all looking to leave New Crobuzon for various reasons. Then they get attacked by pirates, and recruited to be colonists of an entirely different place – Armada, the floating city.

The world of Bas Lag is incredibly well-realised, and we meet more species and go to far more places than we did in Perdido Street Station. I’ve raved about Miéville’s world-building before, and I will continue to do so in the future. The descriptions of Armada make for spectacular reading – a floating city, built from ships and platforms.

Bellis is an interesting protagonist – she’s an established woman over forty, and I have read very few books that feature people like her. She’s a pretty cold person, but she’s also extremely sad at having to leave her home of New Crobuzon. I wasn’t really sure whether I liked her, but she was certainly a good protagonist. The other characters of the novel were also fun – I liked Silas Fennec and Tanner Sack (in very different ways), and Shekel’s thirst for learning was endearing.

The plot went along at a steady pace, and was pretty engaging. I didn’t see a couple of the twists and turns coming. The ending disappointed me a little bit, because so much was left up in the air.

I have the same problems with this as I have with any Miéville book – it’s a bit cold. I probably would have more to say about this if I hadn’t read The City & the City so recently. Overall, a pretty good book.

This is book 20 of 25 of my Dec 11, 2011 book challenge.


The Scar by China Miéville (Bas-Lag, #2)
Ballantine Books, 2002 | Buy the book


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