the archives

dusted off in read-only


China Miéville's Iron Council posted 29 Jul 2004, 23:07 by Aldarion, Sorcerer-of-Rank

China Miéville is a fascinating and frustrating author. While many laud him for his vivid imagination, his flowing prose that changes styles to match the landscapes, and for his intermingling of political values within the context of a fantastic world, critics have noted that his characterizations are often broadly drawn, the transitions are awkward, large sections of his novels could be heavily edited or removed for the story's benefit, and that the plots fail to match up to the sheer power of his imagination. [i:2cj2m1ch]Iron Council[/i:2cj2m1ch] should provide fodder for both camps. I enjoyed this story best of his three Bas-Lag novels. I thought Miéville worked hard to get the story running and the opening part is indeed interesting, set as it is in a quasi-Old West (in comparison to New Crobuzon) where the workers for a transcontinential railroad trust go on strike. Miéville does an excellent job examining the social conditions that likely would have existed. In fact, reading this section reminded me a lot of certain social histories of the industrial period that I've read, so much so that it seemed at times as if Miéville had lifted a page from Guy Kay's handbook for fantasizing real-world situations. But I thought it was done deftly and with a great attention to detail. The shift to New Crobuzon was difficult to follow at first. The city has gone to seed since PSS and while there are passing references to the events of that story and of The Scar, there is only one character from those novels that makes a reappearance, in a chilling section that reveals quite a bit about prole frustrations against the totalitarian direction New Crobuzon has taken in the past twenty years. The city is at war with a shadowy power, Tesh, and the militarization of society has begun apace. The working cl... err, the citizens of New Crobuzon are so disillusioned that they are finally ready to rise up against their dictatorial Mayor. It's around the middle of the book, when Miéville indulges in a very long (around 100 pages) flashback to the origins of the Iron Council mutiny, that I thought the story dragged. As wonderous as the descriptions of the new creatures were, for example, I just felt that about 80-90 pages could have been excised and the same point could have been made better as a result. It was frustrating reading that. After that, things do get back on track, if you'll pardon my pun. There is a closing scene that reminds me of the 1870 Paris Commune, albeit with a different twist. There's one laugh-aloud element about a citizens' force that just conjures all sorts of strange and conflicting elements. The ending was typically sad and conflicted. I really can't say much without spoiling the story, but I thought the way Miéville concludes the story of Iron Council was a bit disjointed and unsatisfactory. But it's to be expected I guess in a Miéville tale. Would I recommend this to others? Most certainly, especially for those who enjoyed PSS over The Scar. For those who didn't like either story, I did see improvement in Miéville's pacing, but again with too many concerns for me to try to persuade those detractors from reconsidering their decisions not to read Miéville's later works. For myself, it was a good read, but not my favorite 2004 release. There's enough promise here, though, to hope that as Miéville matures as a writer, he will develop better plotting sequences to channel his imaginative powers in a stronger fashion. view post

posted 29 Jul 2004, 23:07 by Grantaire, Moderator

Oh, something I forgot to ask when you posted this on wotmania- would you recommend that I read The Scar first? I know that you said it doesn't really matter much because they're not too connected, but would you still say that it's better to read that first? view post

posted 29 Jul 2004, 23:07 by Aldarion, Sorcerer-of-Rank

To be honest, there's so little mention of anything that happened in that book that you can safely read ahead to IC after PSS. The only reference I caught was to the pirate attacks of a few years before. But it's up to you. I liked The Scar a bit more than PSS for characterization. view post

posted 29 Jul 2004, 23:07 by Grantaire, Moderator

Ah. Well, I'm sure that they're both excellent books, so I suppose that I'll read them in the order that I can procure them *curses library for not having any books you ever recommend* :wink: view post

posted 30 Jul 2004, 18:07 by drosdelnoch, Subdidact

Just waiting for my copy to turn up :) view post


The Three Seas Forum archives are hosted and maintained courtesy of Jack Brown.