Saturday, January 07, 2012

Book: China Miéville's "The Scar"

I've been reading good things about China Miélville.  Many of his books have been on people's top ten lists for several years.  I decided to dip my toe in by reading China Miéville's "The Scar", the only Miéville book at the local library.  Miéville is considered a writer of fantasy though some people, including himself, have described his style as "New Weird."  "The Scar" is a fantasy book but it is unlike any I've ever read.

For me, the typical fantasy book involves magic, Kings/Queens, and, often, epic quests.  "The Scar" has none of these really.  This is both unsettling and intriguing.  It took me a while to get comfortable with the "world" Miéville was building.

The book follows the main character, Bellis Coldwine, as she is captured in a Pirate raid and assimilated into the pirate community of Armada, a huge floating city of captured ships.  Bellis is a strong willed, self controlled woman intent in not giving in to her captors while slowly letting her guard down and forming friendships.  As the story progresses she becomes entwined in intrigues wrapped in conspiracies.  She navigates these intrigues skillfully until, as the climax of the novel approaches, she realizes that she has never been in control and she has been used by all sides from the very start.

The book was okay.  It's well written.  The fantasy aspects of the book were subtle.  In fact the book had more of a science fiction feel to it.  I'm not sure how to feel about this book.  I didn't dislike it but it took me longer than normal to get through it.  The pace was slow at times and rushed at the end.  I may have to read more of his stuff to decide if I like Miéville's style or not.  His lates book, "Embassytown", is in fact science fiction.  I'll have to check it out.  I'll reserve recommendation until I've read more from China Miéville.

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