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Iron Council Paperback – July 26, 2005

Book 3 of 3 in the New Crobuzon Series

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Editorial Reviews

Amazon.com Review

China Miéville's novel Iron Council is the tumultuous story of the "Perpetual Train." Born from monopolists' greed and dispatched to tame the western lands beyond New Crobuzon, the train is itself the beginnings of an Iron Council formed in the fire of frontier revolt against the railroad's masters. From the wilderness, the legend of Iron Council becomes the spark uniting the oppressed and brings barricades to the streets of faraway New Crobuzon. The sprawling tale is told through the past-and-present eyes of three characters. The first is Cutter, a heartsick subversive who follows his lover, the messianic Judah Low, on a quest to return to the Iron Council hidden in the western wilds. The second is Judah himself, an erstwhile railroad scout who has become the iconic golem-wielding hero of Iron Council's uprising at the end of the tracks. And the third is Ori, a young revolutionary on the streets of New Crobuzon, whose anger leads him into a militant wing of the underground, plotting anarchy and mayhem.

Miéville (The Scar, Perdido Street Station) weaves his epic out of familiar and heavily political themes--imperialism, fascism, conquest, and Marxism--all seen through a darkly cast funhouse mirror wherein even language is distorted and made beautifully grotesque. Improbably evoking Jack London and Victor Hugo, Iron Council is a twisted frontier fable cleverly combined with a powerful parable of Marxist revolution that continues Miéville's macabre remaking of the fantasy genre. --Jeremy Pugh --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

From Publishers Weekly

In this stunning new novel set mainly in the decadent and magical city of New Crobuzon, British author Miéville (The Scar) charts the course of a proletarian revolution like no other. The capitalists of New Crobuzon are pushing hard. More and more people are being arrested on petty charges and "Remade" into monstrous slaves, some half animal, others half machine. Uniformed militia are patrolling the streets and watching the city from their dirigibles. They turn a blind eye when racists stage pogroms in neighborhoods inhabited by non-humans. An overseas war is going badly, and horrific, seemingly meaningless terrorist acts occur with increasing frequency. Radical groups are springing up across the city. The spark that will ignite the revolution, however, is the Perpetual Train. Workers building the first transcontinental railroad, badly mistreated by their overseers, have literally stolen a train, laying track into the wild back-country west of the great city, tearing up track behind them, fighting off the militia sent to arrest them, even daring to enter the catotopic zone, that transdimensional continental scar where anything is possible. Full of warped and memorable characters, this violent and intensely political novel smoothly combines elements of fantasy, science fiction, horror, even the western. Miéville represents much of what is new and good in contemporary dark fantasy, and his work is must reading for devotees of that genre. FYI: Miéville has won Arthur C. Clarke, British Science Fiction and British Fantasy awards.
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
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Product Details

  • Paperback: 576 pages
  • Publisher: Del Rey; Reprint edition (July 26, 2005)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0345458427
  • ISBN-13: 978-0345458421
  • Product Dimensions: 6.1 x 1.2 x 9.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.2 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 3.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (112 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #256,992 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

China Miéville is the author of King Rat; Perdido Street Station, winner of the Arthur C. Clarke Award and the British Fantasy Award; The Scar, winner of the Locus Award and the British Fantasy Award; Iron Council, winner of the Locus Award and the Arthur C. Clarke Award; Looking for Jake, a collection of short stories; and Un Lun Dun, his New York Times bestselling book for younger readers. He lives and works in London.

Customer Reviews

The ideas, the world, the characters were much more intriguing and memorable.
Fallout Girl
The author's excellent descriptive writing style also seemed a bit absent although it did appear at several points in the book (the swamp for example).
R. Miller
The two stories have very little to do with one another, and I found the first story to be flat and dull.
Adam D. Schneider

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

96 of 107 people found the following review helpful By Amazon Customer VINE VOICE on August 17, 2004
Format: Hardcover
First off, for those of you new to China Mieville, I would recommend that you begin with "Perdido Street Station" (or "King Rat"), followed up by "The Scar", and only then tackle "Iron Council". While the three books don't form a trilogy in the traditional sense, they nonetheless draw on shared themes and a common setting and history. As such, while "Iron Council" can certainly be read and appreciated by a newcomer to Mieville's writing, there are numerous small references and commonalities that will be missed.

Fans of Mieville, however, will find in "Iron Council" perhaps his most nuanced and sophisticated writing to date. As usual, the author defies genres, and has produced what would best be described (if one was forced to use labels) as a gothic-western-political-thriller. At the same time, he continues to subvert traditional fantasy elements as well as co-opting elements from other traditions and grounding them in his reality. However, Mieville has also tackled a more challenging structural approach in this novel, as he uses three different voices and two time periods that, while connected by plot threads are separated by decades. Furthermore, the chronologically earlier section comes 130 pages into the book, which in the hands of a less gifted writer would be horribly jarring, but which Mieville pulls of with style.

The primary story (which is elaborated upon by the flashback) is set some twenty years after the events of Perdido Street Station, and finds New Crobuzon at war with distant Tesh, with discontent at home mounting as the casualties mount and the economy falters.
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59 of 68 people found the following review helpful By Ian Mccullough on July 27, 2004
Format: Hardcover
The Iron Council is not quite as good as The Scar or Perdido Street Station. There, it's been said. But that is a fairly meaningless statement due to the colossal heights Mieville's first two Bas-Lag books climbed. The Iron Council is a marvelous book, with all the imagination, the rich social commentary, the wildly creative monsters, and the textured characters we've come to expect. The plot rips along at high speed, with converging storylines and the "I wonder what happens next?" anticipation that really good, really fun books share in common. The Iron Council is probably the best structured of the three Bas-Lag novels, and there is a real confidence in the writing. Is familiarity breeding contempt for me with Mieville? It must be, because I think he's a better writer and storyteller than Tolkein, who I like. Only time will tell if Mieville is as great a world builder and fantasy architect as Tolkien. But it's time we start thinking of Mieville in terms of how great he is among all fantasy writers in history, not just how good is this or that book.

So with this adulatory review, what is wrong? Nothing really, it is just not quite as amazing as his first two in this world. I'm willing to write this off to knowing Bas-Lag and not being blown away by the sheer audacity as I had before. Some readers will be annoyed by Mieville's overt socialism, but that's a matter of personal taste. Personally I enjoy the change from - well, every other fantasy book I read. There are great ideas (smokestone, the whispersmith), creatures (Inchmen, Handlingers) and characters (Toro, Cutter), but Bas-Lag is becoming an eccentric old friend, rather than that wild guy you had a blast with once at a party.
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57 of 66 people found the following review helpful By Swift 36 on December 26, 2005
Format: Paperback
China Mieville's first two novels set in the world of Bas-Lag gave him a well-deserved reputation as the most important young writer working in the sci fi/fantasy genres today. In Perdido Street Station and The Scar, Mieville created a neo-Dickensian milieu of bizarre, terrible, but deeply compelling grotequeries inhabited by complex, often-conflicted characters. Both narratives gained momentum over hundreds of pages, even as each sprawled further into and then away from the teeming city of New Crubozon, and all of it was illuminated by Mieville's powerfully intelligent, pleasingly baroque prose style.

So, what happened with Iron Council? Mieville's third Bas-Lag book is confusing, meandering, and populated by shallow, underdeveloped, highly unlikeable characters. His writing style is choppy throughout and routinely defies the most basic rules of grammar and usage; perhaps he was aiming for profundity (think David Foster Wallace), but he achieved only preciousness at best, and tedium more often. The narrative-such as it was, given his penchant herein for flashbacks, deus ex machinas, and withheld information-had holes in it one could (pardon the pun) drive a train through. The plot progressed as if he didn't know where it was going when he was writing it. Above all, Iron Council was agonizingly dull-I could hardly wait for the book to be over with and finished.

Many have correctly noted that this is Mieville's most explicitly political novel. Since his politics are Euro-socialist in character, perhaps you might think I was put off by that-but no.
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