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Kraken [Kindle Edition]

China Mieville
3.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (189 customer reviews)

Print List Price: $16.00
Kindle Price: $10.83
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Sold by: Random House LLC

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Book Description

BONUS: This edition contains an excerpt from China Miéville’s Embassytown.

With this outrageous new novel, China Miéville has written one of the strangest, funniest, and flat-out scariest books you will read this—or any other—year. The London that comes to life in Kraken is a weird metropolis awash in secret currents of myth and magic, where criminals, police, cultists, and wizards are locked in a war to bring about—or prevent—the End of All Things.

In the Darwin Centre at London’s Natural History Museum, Billy Harrow, a cephalopod specialist, is conducting a tour whose climax is meant to be the Centre’s prize specimen of a rare Architeuthis duxbetter known as the Giant Squid. But Billy’s tour takes an unexpected turn when the squid suddenly and impossibly vanishes into thin air.

As Billy soon discovers, this is the precipitating act in a struggle to the death between mysterious but powerful forces in a London whose existence he has been blissfully ignorant of until now, a city whose denizens—human and otherwise—are adept in magic and murder.

There is the Congregation of God Kraken, a sect of squid worshippers whose roots go back to the dawn of humanity—and beyond. There is the criminal mastermind known as the Tattoo, a merciless maniac inked onto the flesh of a hapless victim. There is the FSRC—the Fundamentalist and Sect-Related Crime Unit—a branch of London’s finest that fights sorcery with sorcery. There is Wati, a spirit from ancient Egypt who leads a ragtag union of magical familiars. There are the Londonmancers, who read the future in the city’s entrails. There is Grisamentum, London’s greatest wizard, whose shadow lingers long after his death. And then there is Goss and Subby, an ageless old man and a cretinous boy who, together, constitute a terrifying—yet darkly charismatic—demonic duo.

All of them—and others—are in pursuit of Billy, who inadvertently holds the key to the missing squid, an embryonic god whose powers, properly harnessed, can destroy all that is, was, and ever shall be.

Editorial Reviews Review

"The Soft Intelligence": 5 Underrated Literary Cephalopods by China Miéville

It was Jacques-Yves Cousteau and Philippe Diolé who named cephalopods 'the soft intelligence', in the subtitle to their 1973 book Octopus and Squid. At first, the adjective seems vaguely simpering, as if these ambassadors of alterity are in fact safe, unthreatening, cuddly. But immediately comes a strangeness. If they are a, no, the soft intelligence, what are we? Hard intelligence? Soft unintelligence? Why are they soft intelligence singular? Is each but an iteration of some tentacular totality? What strange sentience. An opaque collective.

There are rules to this exercise. No invented species nor chimerical monsters--though this doesn't preclude gigantism nor a little taxonomic vagueness. Thus the 'huge, brown, glistening bulk' of William Hope Hodgson's 'mighty devil-fish' in The Boats of the 'Glen Carrig' would be permissible: haploteuthis ferox, that hitherto unknown squid that assailed the English coast in H.G. Wells's The Sea Raiders is not: still less would be Cthulhu, despite his admirably tentacular visage. And as the effort here is to overturn a few rocks less jostled to see what coils beneath, much celebrated ceph-lit has been left alone. Captain Nemo's nemesis is not here. Benchley's Beast is absent, as is Lautréamont's octopus spirit from Maldoror. The astounding ruminations on the octopus-as-bad-ontology in Victor Hugo's otherwise 'prodigiously boring book' (Sebald) Toilers of the Sea, remain indispensable--but elsewhere.

See China Miéville's full list of underrated literary cephalopods at Omnivoracious,'s books blog

From Publishers Weekly

British fantasist Miéville mashes up cop drama, cults, popular culture, magic, and gods in a Lovecraftian New Weird caper sure to delight fans of Perdido Street Station and The City & the City. When a nine-meter-long dead squid is stolen, tank and all, from a London museum, curator Billy Harrow finds himself swept up in a world he didn't know existed: one of worshippers of the giant squid, animated golems, talking tattoos, and animal familiars on strike. Forced on the lam with a renegade kraken cultist and stalked by cops and crazies, Billy finds his quest to recover the squid sidelined by questions as to what force may now be unleashed on an unsuspecting world. Even Miéville's eloquent prose can't conceal the meandering, bewildering plot, but his fans will happily swap linearity for this dizzying whirl of outrageous details and fantastic characters.
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.

Product Details

  • File Size: 1567 KB
  • Print Length: 529 pages
  • Page Numbers Source ISBN: B00AZRP4JA
  • Publisher: Del Rey (June 29, 2010)
  • Sold by: Random House LLC
  • Language: English
  • ASIN: B0036S4F18
  • Text-to-Speech: Not enabled
  • X-Ray:
  • Word Wise: Not Enabled
  • Lending: Not Enabled
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #123,170 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
88 of 103 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Dark and different, scary and humorous. May 25, 2010
Format:Hardcover|Vine Customer Review of Free Product (What's this?)
A fascinating new novel by China Miéville, author of Perdido Street Station, which won the 2001 Arthur C. Clarke Award the 2001 British Fantasy Award, and was nominated for the Hugo, Nebula, World Fantasy, Locus and British Science Fiction awards. (He also wrote "King Rat", but not the "King Rat" that is set in a WWII POW Camp. )

The publishers would like you to think that it's similar to Neil Gaiman, and sure, two of the villains in this story are reminiscent of "the Old Firm"(but nastier, if that's possible). But I see more Tim Powers and James Blaylock, with more than a touch of H.P. Lovecraft (or maybe it's just all those tentacles....).

It's technically Urban Fantasy, set in more or less modern day London. But it also has more than a little horror. And, oddly enough- it has some rather humorous bits too. Both scary and funny at times. The authors obvious love for and deep knowledge of London gives the book added depth.

Our protagonist is swept along by events and people (and things) he hadn't any concept of in his prior life as a museum curator. He is forced out of his humdrum existence by the impossible theft of a giant squid pickled in a huge tank of formalin, a kraken that he himself had a hand in preserving.

Enlivened by some interesting and original characters, including a few new deities and religions, it's entirely a different kettle of cuttlefish than your usual urban fantasy. It's also not a book you want to read yourself to sleep with. (The tentacles!!!!! Eeeeeeeeeeee!)

It's different. It's dark. It's scary. It's different. It's humorous. It's well written. It's worth reading. It's... did I say different?
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98 of 117 people found the following review helpful
Format:Hardcover|Vine Customer Review of Free Product (What's this?)
In Kraken, London is a strange place, a city with characters and entities having strange powers, a place of bizarre creatures, and a mystery or two.

Museum curator Billy Harrow goes from having a normal, simple life, giving tours and preparing specimens, to a creepy, haunted one in the midst of a frenzied search for a stolen specimen of a giant squid from his museum. There is a Congregation of the God Kraken, you see. God was just stolen. Who stole it is a mystery, but there is no mystery that, whoever took it, others now see its value, and want to recover it. Billy is thought to know more than he lets on, so he also becomes a target of this search.

There's a deep complexity to this story, and to author China Mieville's writing:

"He had been a point of awareness, a soul-spot, a sentient submerged node, and had drifted over an ocean floor that he had seen in monochrome, lightless as it would have been, and that had pitched suddenly into a crevasse, a Mariana Trench of water like clothed shadow." This was a bit of Billy's dreaming... inspired by the kraken?

There are mysterious and unique characters here. Tattoo, Wati, Jason, Subby and Goss... And the real folk, Dane and Collingswood and Marge (as well as Billy), each have their own learning curve and adventures.

But this was a story that seemed... excessive. The detail dampened my enthusiasm for the tale. It became a chore to continue to read. And when the twists and turns came to their conclusion, I was left with a sense of relief, not of knowing how things turned out, but that it was over. Ouch. Mieville seems to have been caught up in developing the minutiae of actions, conversations, and interactions. The detail drove the story, instead of the story driving the detail.
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59 of 70 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Amazing! May 30, 2010
Format:Hardcover|Vine Customer Review of Free Product (What's this?)
China Mieville writes like nobody else. Exceedingly erudite (he has a PhD) he throws many words you've never heard of into this fantastic brew taking place in his London- and London to him is a huge living thing, a great breathing, crouching beast. Windows rattle and bricks speak and of course there's plenty of swirling fog to top everything off. His writing is quirky, he uses highly inventive similes such as "Bits of rubbish shifted in gusts, crawled on the pavement like bottom feeders." London is alive if not well.

Mieville carries you with him with great skill. You're there. You shudder. You shiver. You laugh. He takes you into the bowels of London. He wraps you the reader in a supernatural cocoon where all the ends are tied up and you can't escape. Where bizarre events and supernatural goings- on appear quite normal. You are plunged into a surrealistic world of strange cults, pagan apocalypses and god-like reptiles."Kraken" is concentrated New Weird which takes a bit of time to get used to.

The action starts when Billy Harrow, the unassuming curator of mollusks in the Darwin Center is leading a group of visitors on a tour when he discovers the Center's star attraction, an eight meter long giant squid preserved in a huge tank of formalin, has disappeared tank and all. It is unthinkable, it is impossible but there is a great gaping space where the squid used to be.

Billy embarks on a mission to solve the mystery and he is plunged into a surrealistic world of twisted and peculiar events, and crosses the path of strange cults, all fighting each other to conquer with their own particular apocalypse.

Somehow the disappearance of the giant squid has set in motion a series of horrible events, an Armageddon which will destroy the world.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars Excellent!
His way of blending practical and fantastical, his compelling plots and grand concepts that are in scale and not lost in details. Read more
Published 14 days ago by Ted Monroe
3.0 out of 5 stars "Inventive" doesn't start to describe it
The word “inventive” describes China Miéville’s Kraken the way “okay-looking” describes Halle Berry or Charlize Theron. Mr. Read more
Published 24 days ago by BassoProfundo
4.0 out of 5 stars Imagination and humor walk into a museum...
I never weary of Mr. Mieville's superb baroque imagination. Everything he touches bears the fruit of this prodigious vision for humor, absurdity, and his grasp of the machinations... Read more
Published 3 months ago by Peter H. Burris
2.0 out of 5 stars Hard to FATHOM this jumbled mess
Kraken follows a fairly predictable storyline: A giant squid carcass that could possibly be the body of a god disappears from a museum and there is a mystery involving how and why... Read more
Published 3 months ago by HJ Louw
4.0 out of 5 stars Four Stars
Pretty good, very long and slow to start.
Published 4 months ago by Chase A. Greenlee
5.0 out of 5 stars brilliant
Absolutely edge of the seat brilliant. The twists made me tired but I was unable to put the book down. Awesome read for any fantasy lover.
Published 4 months ago by chaitali
3.0 out of 5 stars Mediocre China Mieville but still has its good points
China Mieville is one of the more maddening and erratic science fiction/fantasy writers out there. When he is good he is very very good, and when he is bad he is so-so. Read more
Published 5 months ago by Aaron Smith
4.0 out of 5 stars A Good Read, but a Tad Long
Overall, this was a fun read. A new weird kind of mystery fiction .... thing. Although it has some fantastic aspects to it and some fine writing, it could have done with about 100... Read more
Published 5 months ago by A. Reeder
4.0 out of 5 stars Super literary version of Neil Gaiman
Like a super literary Neil Gaiman. An every man stumbles into a secret hidden magic London, where the religious cult gangs run the town. Read more
Published 6 months ago by Joel White
3.0 out of 5 stars Creative ideas, hard to follow.
This book had a really interesting premise, but it was very convoluted. I really enjoyed the first 100 pages or so because the author has the ability to capture your attention and... Read more
Published 7 months ago by L. M. Wagner
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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.

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