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King Rat [Paperback]

China Mieville
4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (31 customer reviews)
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Book Description

Oct. 6 2000
Something is stirring in London's dark, stamping out its territory in brickdust and blood. Something has murdered Saul Garamond's father, and left Saul to pay for the crime.

But a shadow from the urban waste breaks into Saul's prison cell and leads him to freedom. A shadow called King Rat, who reveals Saul's royal heritage, a heritage that opens a new world to Saul, the world below London's streets--a heritage that also drags Saul into King Rat's plan for revenge against his ancient enemy,. With drum 'n' bass pounding the backstreets, Saul must confront the forces that would use him, the forces that would destroy him, and the forces that shape his own bizarre identity.

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From Amazon

Saul Garamond returns from a journey in late evening and sneaks into his bedroom to avoid a confrontation with his estranged father. He awakes to the intrusion of police and the news that his father has been murdered and he is the number-one suspect. Forgotten in a jail cell, he is freed by a peculiar, stinking, and impossibly strong stranger--only to find rescue may be worse than imprisonment. The plot moves through subterranean and rooftop London quick as a techno beat, as Saul discovers his curious heritage and finds himself marked for death in an age-old secret war among frightful inhuman powers.

China Miéville's urban fantasy novel, King Rat, is an impressive, even daring, debut. It is a Lost Prince story that avoids both black-and-white morality and the standard fantasy-novel adoration of royalty. Furthermore, it is inspired by the unlikeliest of sources, the Rat King legend and the Pied Piper of Hamelin fairy tale. Finally, King Rat, powered and propelled by the rhythms of jungle/drum-'n'-bass music, is a fantasy novel set in the 1990s that genuinely captures the 1990s. --Cynthia Ward --This text refers to the Hardcover edition.

From Publishers Weekly

In the past decade, contemporary renderings of traditional fairy tales have become a staple of fantasy fiction. This flashy riff on the Pied Piper theme marks a notable extension of the trend and an auspicious debut for its author. Saul Garamond is a restless young Londoner, aimlessly adrift, when he is wrongly imprisoned for the murder of his father. Saul is snatched from the authorities by a mysterious savior named King Rat, who claims to be both the deposed leader of the rodent army driven out of Hamelin 700 years before and Saul's real father. Raised as a human, Saul has much to unlearn before King can teach him to become a worthy opponent of the Rat Catcher, who framed Saul for murder and is still pursuing King. Meanwhile, the Rat Catcher forces his friendship on Saul's composer friend, Natasha, by posing as a flautist who hopes to work his melodies into her "drum 'n' bass" dance music and turn London's hip-hop underground into his unwitting stormtroopers. Though the plot is predictable and Saul's efforts to get in touch with his inner rat are clearly patterned on the Star Wars school of messiah-making, Mi?ville pulls the reader into the story through the kinetic energy of his prose. From the novel's opening image ("The trains that enter London arrive like ships sailing across the roofs"), the narrative crackles with a mesmerizing melange of impressionistic description and street slang that powerfully limns the squalid London cityscape. Paced at the rhythm of the Jungle music it evokes, this dark urban fantasy proves nearly as irresistible as the Pied Piper's tunes.
Copyright 1999 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to the Hardcover edition.

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Customer Reviews

Most helpful customer reviews
4.0 out of 5 stars My 100-word book review March 7 2006
Format:Paperback
First novel by inventive left-wing fantasy author China Mieville, in which young Saul Garamond comes to terms with his true identity as a half-rat superhero, after the murder of his father. Set in the shadowy, seamy underbelly of London, this novel is also about the esoteric world of drum-and-bass music. The characterisation is fairly flat, and there really should be a bit more of a background to Saul; King Rat is not quite in the same league as the Bas-Lag novels, but still displays a brilliant imagination, and a rather anarchic mix and match approach which I find very stimulating.
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4.0 out of 5 stars Rats Rule! May 20 2004
By A Customer
Format:Paperback
This is a very good and engaging reinscription of the Pied Piper children's story. Here the rats, more or less, are the heroes and the Piper is a beautiful but psychopathic musician. It is also a text where Mieville attempts to blend, more or less successfully, Industrial Fiction with an Adult Fairy Story. So it isn't particularly innovative (that's been going on for decades - transforming fairy stories into adult fiction and sometimes serious literature [Angela Carter's work for example]) but it is an interesting read: good writing, characters, incident, crisis, plotting, etc.
I do not give it 5 stars because there is nothing truly unique and inspiring about the read. You want to take a walk off the map? Read Carlton Mellick III's Electric Jesus Corpse.
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5.0 out of 5 stars The best book by one of the best new authors May 3 2004
By isala
Format:Paperback
King Rat is inspired by Neil Gaiman's NeverWhere. But it is not a copy. Mieville has his own voice and vision.
This is not the glitzy West End of the tourists, or the City of Big Business. This is the London of the poor, the outcasts, the shabby projects. The London of the urban tribes outside of society.
An ancient evil has returned to clear up unfinished business. The old King Rat failed to protect his people, and the rats dethroned him. But they are now confused and afraid, and lack leadership. The King Rat sees a chance to regain his throne, and Saul Garamond will be his tool.
Mieville brings new twist to old story plots. There is where I find some of his brilliance. The story is interesting to the end. At no time did I know what was going to happen next.
He writes in a poetic, yet fluent language. I even highlighted some passages because his descriptions rival Dante's.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Most descriptive stuff I've read since Rice April 7 2004
Format:Paperback
Texture, scent, colour. I've not read anything this, well, real in a long time. Even when it's not something you'd really want to smell or sense, Mieville lets you have it full on. I enjoyed Ann Rice's early works for the same reason. I knew how the curtains in a room would feel under my fingertips, and how musty they'd smell. Mieville is much in the same vein in that regard, one of the best sensory descriptive writers I've encountered yet. A gripping story, too. Read his newer work!!!
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3.0 out of 5 stars Fascinating but Deeply Flawed Dec 26 2003
Format:Paperback
China Mieville is, today, regarded as something of a Fantasy fiction It Boy, a reputation due mostly to his second novel, "Perdido Street Station", and enhanced by his third, "The Scar". Not nearly as much discussion has been generated by his first novel, "King Rat", and after reading it I'm inclined to see why. The book, an ambitious (over-ambitious, as it turns out) mix of fairy tale and urban grime which lends new meaning to the term "subculture", has many aspects that are worth admiring - the wealth of ideas, genuinely gripping action sequences and gorgeous descriptions alone make it worth a read. Unfortunately, its flaws are deep-seated and impossible to ignore, resting mainly with the book's almost unbelievably one-dimensional characterisations.
The human characters in the book are, without doubt, the weakest. Fabian and Natasha exist only to serve in the traditional Damsels-in-Distress role (an apt comparison, as the book is a much more traditional Good-versus-Evil tale than it likes to think it is). Inspector Crowley is even worse off: a cliched Cop-with-a-Hunch, Mieville makes some half-hearted attempts at sketching a personality for him before abandoning him altogether. Deborah, in her bizarrely brief appearance, serves no purpose whatsoever other than cheap shock value at her fate. Saul, perhaps, comes off the best of all the characters in the novel (yes, I place him squarely in the "human" camp, as he gives no evidence that his psychology is in any real way different from ours); we are at least privy to his true thoughts and emotions, which is more than can be said for anyone else in the book - particularly, sadly, the non-human characters (King Rat, Anansi, Loplop and the Piper), the book's most conceptually interesting people.
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Format:Paperback
China Mieville, King Rat (Tor, 1998)
It amazes me, after having read King Rat, that China Mieville didn't start getting widespread recognition until after his third novel, Perdido Street Station. King Rat heralded the coming of a great new writer, and most of the planet ignored it. Their loss.
Saul Garamond comes home one night after a camping trip and immediately goes to bed. He is awakened the next morning by the police, who suspect him of killing his father, who took a plunge out their sixth-story apartment window sometime during Saul's absence. He's held in prison overnight, but during his stay there, a fellow who calls himself King Rat slips into Saul's cell and breaks him out. For Saul is the key to the defeat of King Rat's oldest and most powerful enemy...
Set amid the Jungle craze that hit London in the mid-nineties, and spending a good deal of time in the sewers underneath London, King Rat achieves what Neil Gaiman's Neverwhere came so close to but missed by a hair-taking modern London and making it into a completely new place, filled with wonder and magic. Seeing it from a different point of view (but unlike Gaiman, Mieville gives us a point of view that actually exists inside the fantasy world-the point of view of the homeless). A number of previous reviewers have commented that it helps when reading the novel to know a good deal about Cockney rhyming slang and Jungle music. I know diddly about either, other than that they exist, and still found the novel easy enough to follow (while some of the slang terms I couldn't figure out for the life of me, the context of their use made the meanings obvious).
Like Perdido Street Station, King Rat shows Mieville as more than a capable writer, but one possessed of greatness.
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Most recent customer reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars A new author to add to my favorites list
I've just discovered China Mieville and after reading so many rave reviews of The Scar and Perdido Street Station decided to go out and pick up those books. Read more
Published on Aug. 29 2003 by D. Berdanis
2.0 out of 5 stars ...not by a long shot...
Sorry, folks, but this book does not hold up. It's starts off with a fast pace and characters and a story that just sucks you in. Read more
Published on July 11 2003 by Salvatore Cangemi
3.0 out of 5 stars Deep in the Dark
For all the many words and apt phrases that Mieville uses, there may be only one word that describes Mieville works: dark. Read more
Published on March 17 2003 by Patrick Shepherd
5.0 out of 5 stars Raw, fascinating, powerful
In "King Rat" China Mieville has created a Pied Piper tale for the 21st century. Using the duality of the ultra-chic yet hyper-primitive culture of the London club scene as his... Read more
Published on March 5 2003 by J. N. Mohlman
3.0 out of 5 stars An Old Classic Revisited
What would happen if you took the Pied Piper story, brought it to modern times and set in in the London Underground? Then you'd get the very Neil Gaiman-ish book that is King Rat. Read more
Published on Jan. 30 2003 by Sebastien Pharand
4.0 out of 5 stars It really reeks. And I mean that in a good way.
When I got to the library, some other cove had checked out China Mieville's acclaimed second book "Perdido Street Station", but his first novel was still on the shelf, so I took it... Read more
Published on July 16 2002 by Royce E. Buehler
5.0 out of 5 stars very unique read...takes you into another world!
i will admit that i picked up this book because it incorporated Drum n Bass into the story. DnB is my one true love and i wanted to see how the Mieville would pull this off, since... Read more
Published on June 27 2002 by maddy
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