Monday, 3 September 2012

China Miéville - 'The Scar'

The Scar is the second of three books written by China Miéville set in his fictional world of Bas-Lag. The first, Perdido Street Station, is set mainly in the large city central to the stories, New Crobuzon, and introduces readers to the vast range of races that inhabit this world, including humans, cactacae (enormous plant people), khepri (a race where the females have human bodies but their heads consist of a large scarab beetle), and garuda (humanoid birds of prey). The books are science fiction/fantasy, along with other influences, and include magic and steampunk technology.

The Scar moves away from the city of New Crobuzon to explore other parts of the Bas-Lag world by sea. The story begins with the characters sailing away from the city. Before their journey is complete they are captured by pirates and become citizens of the pirates' city of Armada, a floating city on the sea comprised of a huge number of ships. While some of the captured settle into their new life, Bellis, the main character, is desperate to return to New Crobuzon and in her attempts to find a way home becomes wrapped up in the plans that Armada's bizarre scarred leaders are leading the city towards.

Having time off this summer has meant I have been able to spend whole afternoons sat with this book, immersing myself in the events, and I haven't been able to put it down once I've got stuck into it. There are plenty of action and twists throughout due to the secrecy and controversy of the characters' plans, and coupled with the writing this is an excellent book.

China Miéville's style of writing is difficult to accustom to at first, but it's worth bearing with because once you're used to it, you can appreciate his beautiful use of language to describe the incredible characters and events that he has created. His writing is some of the best I have come across, with an expansive vocabulary that brings this strange and exotic world to life.

So far I have read all three of the books based in Bas-Lag: Perdido Street Station, The Scar and The Iron Council. The series aren't a trilogy, so you don't need to have read the preceding books to understand the story; however I personally think Perdido Street Station is the best place to start, as it goes into slightly more detail introducing the different races and the lifestyle of the world.

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