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The Scar Mass Market Paperback – June 29, 2004

4.2 out of 5 stars 201 customer reviews
Book 2 of 3 in the New Crobuzon Series

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Editorial Reviews

Amazon.com Review

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 the Paperback edition.

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 the Paperback edition.

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Product Details

  • Mass Market Paperback: 608 pages
  • Publisher: Del Rey (June 29, 2004)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0345460014
  • ISBN-13: 978-0345460011
  • Product Dimensions: 4.2 x 1 x 6.9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 8 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (201 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #174,164 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By Amazon Customer VINE VOICE on June 25, 2002
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
In "The Scar" China Mieville has proven that "Perdido Street Station" was no fluke, he is a force to be reckoned with in the literary world. Once again he returns to the world of Bas Lag, although this time he journeys outside the confines of the city of New Crobuzon. In fact, his characters travel the length and breadth of Bas Lag, as they are the occupants (willing and unwilling) of the floating pirate city, Armada.

It would be nearly impossible to recount the plot here, both because of its complexity, and the risk of spoiling it. However, there are a few general points that I think bear mentioning. First, while this is not a sequel to "Perdido Street Station" it does reference events in that book; there are no common characters, but the protagonist, Bellis Coldwine, is fleeing the city as a direct result of the happenings in the prior novel. While one could easily read "The Scar" without any knowledge of "Perdido Street Station" I would still recommend reading it first, as your appreciation of "The Scar" will be greatly enriched as a result.

Second, "The Scar" is a darker, more ambiguous novel than its predecessor (which was by no means cheery to begin with). It is not an easy beach read for the summer; while it is immensely entertaining, it is also monstrously complex and intensely thoughtful. This is really a novel that needs to be read without distractions and with a great deal of thought as to what is going on. There are a lot of subtle themes and messages in this book, and it needs to be approached in a manner more befitting "literature" rather than your average "sci-fi" (I use quotes because SF can obviously be literature, I'm just speaking in stereotypical terms).
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Format: Paperback
For anyone who spent days in the nightmarish thrall of Perdido Street Station, China Mieville's breathtakingly literate and imaginative monstravaganza, the first question about The Scar must be, was he able do it again? The answer is no, but this turns out to be a good thing.
Particularly in its opening, this sea quest tale disappoints in relation to Perdido Street: though the floating city of Aramada is a marvelous creation, it lacks the incredible density of detail and heights of grotesquerie of New Crobuzon, which here plays a supporting, offstage role. One appreciates Armada without loving and fearing it like New Crobuzon.
Yet as the novel picks up steam we find these feelings precisely mirrored in perfectly named protagonist Bellis Coldwine. As the wickedly sharp plot begins to twist and turn, Mieville again conjures tales of wonder from the far corners of Bas-Lag, provides us with lovingly bizarre set-pieces and characters, and his story begins to fascinate.
The Scar isn't the once in a lifetime book of nightmares Perdido Street Station was, but it is a better novel. The characters are far stronger: Coldwine, Uther Doul, Tanner Sack, Sheckel and Angevine, drive the story rather than vanishing beneath it. The narrative is purposeful, surprising and satisfying. Mieville has taken his protean talents of worldbuilding and description and harnessed them to a serious, adult story.
Perdido Street, for all its genre-blending, was a horror story at heart. The Scar is less gruesome and nihlistic, though still refreshingly far from sentimental. It's palette and worldview are broader, its characters its heart. One could argue that among its few flaws, the book is too brief -- I could have gladly learned more of The Lovers, the Brucolac.
With this intelligent, exhilarating adventure story, Mieville stakes his claim as a first rate novelist -- no apologizing for genre -- he's the real thing.
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Format: Paperback
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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