Friday, July 30, 2010

Review: The Scar

The Scarwas China Mieville's second novel. After I read Perdido Street Station at the beginning of the year, I thought it would be very difficult to top that novel. I was wrong. The Scar is every bit as good, does not rehash any of the material in that first novel (nor does it assume a working knowledge of Bas-Lag's Mieville's fantasy world).

The story revolves around Bellis Coldwine, who is the narrator of the book. She's on a self-imposed exile from New Crobuzon, the setting of Perdido Street Station, due to some events disclosed in that novel which aren't of any relevance to this one. When the ship she is on gets captured by ships from The Armada, a floating city much like that envisioned by Libertarians, she's forced to work for a city she despises. The plot revolves around her plans to escape, and the machinations thereafter.

The milleu is rich, and full of fantasy all the expected twists and turns. The character of Bellis Coldwine is unsympathetic, yet Mieville writes her in such a way that the reader easily understands her motivations. The ongoing disclosure of the world she lives in is done subtly, without moments of long expositions, and the plot carries on logically to its conclusion. Yet many moments of wonder which is what draws many of us to science fiction and fantasy exist within this framework, and I treasure this book for being able to re-ignite them even in an otherwise jade science fiction fan.

In some ways, some of the original graphic-novel visions provided by the Perdido Street Station was lost. That's because Coldwine and the other characters are not perhaps as iconic. However, I thoroughly enjoyed the novel in other ways. Highly recommended. I only hope Mieville's other novels are as good.
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