- Audible Audio Edition
- Listening Length: 12 hours and 22 minutes
- Program Type: Audiobook
- Version: Unabridged
- Publisher: Random House Audio
- Audible.com Release Date: May 17, 2011
- Whispersync for Voice: Ready
- Language: English
- ASIN: B00516Y71Q
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank:
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Embassytown Audiobook – Unabridged
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Top customer reviews
If you haven't read Miéville before, you may want to start with The Kracken, which is a bit lighter work out on the brain, but definitely dive right in. My favorite is The City in the City - a little book with a big punch, but decide for yourself. He is habit forming.
"Before the humans came, we didn't speak so much of many things. Before the humans came, we didn't speak." Embassytown is about the fragility and duplicity of language and the creation of meaning. It is an argument for the storyteller's great conceit: that the deepest truths can be told only through lies. Mieville asserts language's role as a creator of meaning, not just a reference. The brilliance is that a complex argument about language is made without long soliloquies,and is instead demonstrated through plot twists and the act of reading itself. For example, Embassytown includes a scattering of portmanteaus (e.g., floaking = floating, soaking) and other made-up words that force the reader to assign meaning through context. Simultaneously, the alien hosts are struggling to create new similes ("We are like the girl who ate what was given to her in the dark") and ultimately the little lie of the metaphor to construct a reality that expands their senses.
"Embassytown" is to "The Scar" what Frank Hebert's "God Emperor" is to the original "Dune": a story that's a whole lot weirder and less plot-driven, but more interesting philosophically. The reader who can appreciate its merits and overlook the story itself will find Embassytown a book worth experiencing.
Mieville also creates a very sympathetic and compelling character, Avice, through whom these ideas are explored. The reader can admire, identify and root for her but at the same time she is flawed enough to seem genuine. Examples - her acceptance of "floaking" as a lifestyle; her occasional willingness to take advantage of her status as a returned immerser; etc. But she ultimately comes across as strong, humble, and honest. Her perspective and narration is a real strength of the book.
The aspect of the book that holds me back from a full 5-star rating is the overlong, somewhat rambling, section describing the rampage of the addicted Areikei. I guess Mieville felt compelled to add some "action," thinking that a "novel of ideas" on its own wasn't enough. But I found that this part of the story dragged on long after I had gotten the point, and diluted the more interesting themes of the book.
But Mieville regains his footing toward the end, and brings us back in time for a deep, provocative conclusion. Despite his short detour, you have to applaud the way he puts forward these highly relevant and timeless themes.
Moreover, certain passages are just pure fun to read, because of the embedded language puzzles and playfulness. Inventing the language of the Areikei, and the role that humans play in the creation of certain figures of speech (Avice is a simile), is a tour-de-force of creativity.