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The Scar [Mass Market Paperback]

China Mieville
4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (54 customer reviews)
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Book Description

June 29 2004
A mythmaker of the highest order, China Miéville has emblazoned the fantasy novel with fresh language, startling images, and stunning originality. Set in the same sprawling world of Miéville’s Arthur C. Clarke Award-winning novel, Perdido Street Station, this latest epic introduces a whole new cast of intriguing characters and dazzling creations.

Aboard a vast seafaring vessel, a band of prisoners and slaves, their bodies remade into grotesque biological oddities, is being transported to the fledgling colony of New Crobuzon. But the journey is not theirs alone. They are joined by a handful of travelers, each with a reason for fleeing the city. Among them is Bellis Coldwine, a renowned linguist whose services as an interpreter grant her passage—and escape from horrific punishment. For she is linked to Isaac Dan der Grimnebulin, the brilliant renegade scientist who has unwittingly unleashed a nightmare upon New Crobuzon.

For Bellis, the plan is clear: live among the new frontiersmen of the colony until it is safe to return home. But when the ship is besieged by pirates on the Swollen Ocean, the senior officers are summarily executed. The surviving passengers are brought to Armada, a city constructed from the hulls of pirated ships, a floating, landless mass ruled by the bizarre duality called the Lovers. On Armada, everyone is given work, and even Remades live as equals to humans, Cactae, and Cray. Yet no one may ever leave.

Lonely and embittered in her captivity, Bellis knows that to show dissent is a death sentence. Instead, she must furtively seek information about Armada’s agenda. The answer lies in the dark, amorphous shapes that float undetected miles below the waters—terrifying entities with a singular, chilling mission. . . .

China Miéville is a writer for a new era—and The Scar is a luminous, brilliantly imagined novel that is nothing short of spectacular.

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From Amazon

In the third book in an astounding, genre-breaking run, China Miéville expands the horizon beyond the boundaries of New Crobuzon, setting sail on the high seas of his ever-growing world of Bas Lag.

The Scar begins with Miéville's frantic heroine, Bellis Coldwine, fleeing her beloved New Crobuzon in the peripheral wake of events relayed in Perdidio Street Station. But her voyage to the colony of Nova Esperium is cut short when she is shanghaied and stranded on Armada, a legendary floating pirate city. Bellis becomes the reader's unbelieving eyes as she reluctantly learns to live on the gargantuan flotilla of stolen ships populated by a rabble of pirates, mercenaries, and press-ganged refugees. Meanwhile, Armada and Bellis's future is skippered by the "Lovers," an enigmatic couple whose mirror-image scarring belies the twisted depth of their passion. To give up any more of Miéville’s masterful plot here would only ruin the voyage through dangerous straits, political uprisings, watery nightmares, mutinous revenge, monstrous power plays, and grand aspirations.

Miéville's skill in articulating brilliantly macabre and involving descriptions is paralleled only by his ability to set up world-moving plot twists that continually blow away the reader's expectations. Man-made mutations, amphibious aliens, transdimensional beings, human mosquitoes, and even vampires are merely neighbors, coworkers, friends, and enemies coexisting in the dizzying tapestry of diversity that is Armada. The Scar proves Miéville has the muscle and talent to become a defining force as he effortlessly transcends the usual clichés of the genre. --Jeremy Pugh --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

From Publishers Weekly

In this stand-alone novel set in the same monster-haunted universe as last year's much-praised Perdido Street Station, British author Mieville, one of the most talented new writers in the field, takes us on a gripping hunt to capture a magical sea-creature so large that it could snack on Moby Dick, and that's just for starters. Armada, a floating city made up of the hulls of thousands of captured vessels, travels slowly across the world of Bas-Lag, sending out its pirate ships to prey on the unwary, gradually assembling the supplies and captive personnel it needs to create a stupendous work of dark magic. Bellis Coldwine, an embittered, lonely woman, exiled from the great city of New Crobuzon, is merely one of a host of people accidentally trapped in Armada's far-flung net, but she soon finds herself playing a vital role in the byzantine plans of the city's half-mad rulers. The author creates a marvelously detailed floating civilization filled with dark, eccentric characters worthy of Mervyn Peake or Charles Dickens, including the aptly named Coldwine, a translator who has devoted much of her life to dead languages; Uther Doul, the superhuman soldier/scholar who refuses to do anything more than follow orders; and Silas Fennec, the secret agent whose perverse magic has made him something more and less than human. Together they sail through treacherous, magic-ridden seas, on a quest for the Scar, a place where reality mutates and all things become possible. This is state-of-the-art dark fantasy and a likely candidate for any number of award nominations. (July 2). Forecast: Perdido Street Station won the Arthur C. Clarke Award and the British Fantasy Award. A major publicity push including a six-city author tour should help win new readers in the U.S.
Copyright 2002 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

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It is only ten miles beyond the city that the river loses its momentum, drooling into the brackish estuary that feeds Iron Bay. Read the first page
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Customer Reviews

Most helpful customer reviews
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Another fantastic Mieville novel. July 7 2004
Format:Mass Market Paperback
China Mieville, The Scar (Ballantine, 2002)
Comparing any fantasy novel to Mieville's mighty Perdido Street Station invites a bad review. But it can't be helped, in the case of The Scar. After all, it's the sequel to Perdido Street Station. It's not surprising that it doesn't measure up; what is surprising is how close it comes to doing so.
Not long after the events of Perdido Street Station, Grimnebulin's sometime-girlfriend, Bellis Coldwine, flees New Crobuzon when she feels the militia closing in. Boarding the Terpsichoria, she heads off for the colonies on the other side of the world, stopping at Salkrikaltor Cray on the way for some negotiations. Not long after they leave Cray, however, they are ambushed by pirates from a nation who are completely unconcerned with New Crobuzon's might, and taken prisoner. Things go, to put it mildly, downhill from there.
It seemed to me throughout that much of Mieville's impetus for writing The Scar was to explore and flesh out some of the places that were just mentioned in Perdido Street Station. All well and good, as much of what was praised about the former novel was Mieville's ability to build a world with an awe-inspiring amount of descriptive realism. So it's no surprise that the same happens here, as Mieville takes us thousands of miles north and west of New Crobuzon, jumping around the map and filling in pieces of it we didn't get to see before. Mieville's descriptive talents are as strong as ever.
The plot's got a good deal going for it, as well. The pirates are not your normal brand of pirate, and Bellis spends much of her time trying to figure out what's really going on as a possible means of somehow winning her freedom from her captors.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Still amazing Oct. 16 2012
Format:Mass Market Paperback|Verified Purchase
I was afraid the second book of the bas-lag would not be as good as Perdido Street Station. Fortunately, The Scar is also an exciting, well written and original novel. I personally liked PST better, but the Scar is also outstanding. Let me stress this: Mieville is not only a good science fiction author (is that science fiction, actually?) but an excellent author, period.
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4.0 out of 5 stars Mieville leaves another mark June 7 2012
By OpenMind TOP 100 REVIEWER
Format:Mass Market Paperback
China Mieville: frustratingly creative, unfathomably skilful, thoroughly uncompromising. Such has been my experience with his other works, and now The Scar can be added to the list.
The second of his Bas-Lag trilogy (although not a sequel to Perdido Street Station--merely set in the same universe), this novel is bursting at the seams with an ensemble cast of well-developed characters (whose motives and behaviours are delightfully elaborated upon, from the ambitious and ruthless Uther Doul to the kind and loyal Remade man, Tanner Sack), unusual races (with their own attributes and desires, from the rapidly-clotting gladiator race of Scabmettlers to the terrifying, predatory Grindylow), and rich history. And as if the original characters and setting weren't enough, there's a hell of a story here, too. The highly secret, free-floating pirate city of Armada comprises several ridings--each ruled and inhabited by a diverse population--has one goal: to survive. At constant risk of discovery, and therefore annihilation, by the city-state of New Crobuzon, Armadans and their leaders are constantly in search of more people to enlist, ships to annex, and "puissance" to wield. When an ancient text within the library of Armada appears to yield information about an ancient, extra-dimensional source of motive power, the leaders of Armada go in search of this engine in the hope that it will allow them to cover more ground in a faster amount of time, opening up realms (and booty) previously thought out of reach.
Someone is working to undermine their efforts.
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5.0 out of 5 stars My 100-word book review March 7 2006
Format:Mass Market Paperback
A second novel to be set in China Mieville's fantasy world of Bas-Lag, The Scar once more displays the author's prodigious imagination and command of language. Sea battles, weird science, fantastical creatures, monsters of the deep and a piratical floating city feature in this compelling story. The characterisation is subtle, with a main protagonist who is somewhat cold and inexpressive. Some plotlines are not developed too well and go nowhere, but there is more than enough great stuff to compensate. Most impressive creature has to be the avanc. Scariest creatures, in my opinion are the anophelii, mosquito women from hell!
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THE SCAR is even more original and twice as artful as Mieville's previous PERDIDO STREET STATION. If you like great writing, get it. If you like wondrous, original, vivid imaginary worlds, get it. I haven't seen such a marvelous imaginary world in years.
However, if you like characters who set out to make a positive difference in their world and succeed, don't get this book. Mieville likes to write about good guys who aren't really good and who lose even when they win. If he had to do a Churchill biography he'd write about everything except World War II. If he had to do a Presidential biography he'd choose Clinton over Lincoln or Washington every time.
I think he prefers to close his eyes to heroes.
But the world he creates in THE SCAR is gorgeous. It's wonderful. A floating city, a whale as a steed, two different kinds of underwater civilizations, battles with magic and ironclads and airships, an isle of mosquito people, catcus pirates, a magic based on probability theory and oil drilling as a means of magical power--there's just so much stuff in this book. If you want a world you haven't seen before, one wonderfully written, full of life, completely different and completely believable--this is for you.
It's got drama, too, plenty of it, even if Mieville likes to put lots of depressing bits in alongside the successes. There's heroism and war and titan-scale engineering and mysterious magic.
Did I mention that this book is packed full of stuff? And that the world is wonderfully original?
THE SCAR is set in the same universe as PERDIDO STREET STATION, but it goes leagues beyond that in quality.
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Most recent customer reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars My favorite China Mieville... so far...
When I finished Mieville's previous novel, "Perdido Street Station", I thought it couldn't get better. I was underestimating him. Read more
Published on July 6 2011 by G. Larouche
3.0 out of 5 stars not quite as advertised
The book was offered and sold at a very good price,was in near fine condition and arrived promptly,but was mis-advertised in that there was no signature. Read more
Published on Feb. 27 2011 by Wm
5.0 out of 5 stars Unusual and imaginative (unlike this review)
Plot in a very small nutshell: Travellers, prisoners, and slaves (many of whom have been biologically modified against their wills) are on board a sea vessel bound for the New... Read more
Published on April 24 2004 by ZombiKitty
3.0 out of 5 stars disappointed
Miéville is an unparallelled worldsmith, but 'the scar' is let down by flat characterisation and an ultimately pointless plot. Read more
Published on Jan. 13 2004 by milkycat
5.0 out of 5 stars GrindyGhostThaumaturtastic
Perdido was an excellent book in its own right, yet I was impressed by how much better The Scar was. Read more
Published on Oct. 28 2003 by Emperor Norton
5.0 out of 5 stars more bizarre and engrossing fun
After reading China Miéville's novel Perdido Street Station last June, The Scar was quickly added to my Must Read list. Read more
Published on Oct. 27 2003 by Woodge
5.0 out of 5 stars Sweet
Hmmmm...hmmmmm. I have been reading sci-fi and fantasy since I was 7 years old. Thats a long time. And I can honestly say do yourself a favor and get this one, its good. Read more
Published on Oct. 12 2003
3.0 out of 5 stars Not Nearly as Good as Perdido
Perdido Street Station was incredible, so I went into this book with high hopes. Unfortunately, they were to fall. Read more
Published on Sept. 19 2003 by Luke Johnson
4.0 out of 5 stars Mining the Possibilities
This is another powerhouse of the imagination from China Mieville, who certainly deserves the praise he has gotten as one of SF/Fantasy's most important new writers. Read more
Published on Sept. 9 2003 by doomsdayer520
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