The Scar : New Crobuzon

  • by China Mieville
  • Narrated by Gildart Jackson
  • Series: New Crobuzon
  • 26 hrs and 58 mins
  • Unabridged Audiobook

Publisher's Summary

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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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful

There Is No Redemption in the Sea

Some books just leave a mark on you. In China Mieville’s The Scar, a character is told “Scars are not injuries…a scar is a healing. After injury, a scar is what makes you whole.” I don’t know whether or not that’s true — or if in the context of the book, Mieville is actually suggesting it’s true. Probably he’s saying it’s a possible truth. Because in this book, every character has their share of scars — be they physical and bloody or emotional and invisible. Sometimes the characters become better for it, and sometimes the characters are broken by them. Whether or not scars make you better or worse, they seem to be defining points in the lives of the characters who inhabit this book. For me, The Scar was a defining point in my reading.

I first encountered The Scar back when it came out almost 15 years ago. I had devoured Perdido Street Station, and was delighted to discover this one. When I discovered audiobooks, I was disappointed I couldn’t find The Scar, because of what it carved out on me. So I was delighted that Random House finally brought it out in the U.S. last year. For those of you who don’t know, The Scar is as wild adventure story as the fantastic and untamed seas that it is set upon. Here be pirates, sea monsters, magic, strange creatures like the Mosquito Women and the Scabmettlers, rogues like the Brucolac and Uther Doel, and heroes like Bellis Coldwine and Tanner Sack.

I’m happy to say that The Scar is an even better book than I remembered it being — where once the ending seemed rushed, I now realize it’s really Mieville’s subversion of popular fantasy tropes, particularly the hero’s quest. In this story, the journey is literally everything. And all the monsters, characters, and crazy-ass worldbuilding he created for this excursion to Bas Lag are as wicked, weird, and intoxicating as ever. I don’t know if I want to live on the floating city that is Armada, but I’d be lying if I said I didn’t want to visit it. What I didn’t remember was how likeable Tanner Sack is (he reminds me a lot of Shadow from American Gods), how perfectly Bellis’s letter works as a coda for this book, and how deep the theme of manipulation runs.

Gildart Jackson had a difficult job bringing all these iconic characters to life. And he does it with aplomb. I’m not quite sure how much I like his interpretation of Uther Doel’s voice, but it was a bold move, and I can understand why he made the choice to read the characters that way. However, his voices for Bellis, Tanner, the Brucolac, Shekel, Silas Fennec, and all the others are perfection, so I’ll take this possible Doel and smile.

I’m happy I took the time to come back to Armada. I’m looking forward to voyaging to Bas Lag again and again, and wearing the scars from this book like trophies.

(Originally posted at the AudioBookaneers)
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- Dave

Puissant scars + gouts of pages = Steampunked

“For every action, there's an infinity of outcomes. Countless trillions are possible, many milliards are likely, millions might be considered probable, several occur as possibilities to us as observers - and one comes true.”

- China Miéville, 'The Scar'

At some point there was an infinite number of possibilitites with this novel. This is the follow up to Perdido Street Station, book 2 in the Bas-Lag/New Crobuzon trilogy. There are chapters and lines and threads of this novel that contained amazing prose, brilliant ideas, funky characters, compelling themes, etc. I loved the motifs and themes China used: possibilities, scars, home, books, politics, community, etc. But there were also just too damn many pages. It could have been edited better. I'm not shy about books over 500 pages, but I don't want to read a 600+ page novel that really is just a fat 400 page novel.

Also, someone (a puissant editor, perhaps?) should have told China to stop using the word puissant (or its variants) and gout (gouts of water, gouts of blood, gouts of pleasure, gouts of relief, gouts of binding energy, gouts of smoke, gouts everywhere; enough gouts to form a trip or a tribe). Unless you are Cormac McCarthy (and there is only one CM) you need to be VERY careful when dropping the word gout casually in a novel. A reader who is paying attention is going to allow a word like gout or puissant to pop up just a few times in a novel that is 600 pages. Once you start dropping it in almost every chapter it practically begs the reader to start snickering or slap their forehead.

Finally, Miéville seemed unembarrassed by his use of steampunk cliches. He seemed to drag every single New Weird/Steampunk cliche into the light and wave it like an ensign. Obnoxious. But still I liked the novel. Hell, there were hours at a time when I REALLY enjoyed it. I devoted a few days to reading it. I loved its potential, and my review is just me letting off some steam (ba dum tss) about it not living up to what I hoped. I will, eventually, read his other books. I just don't feel compelled to read Iron Council tomorrow.

So, I was hoping for another: Perdido Street Station - 5 stars
And I didn't think it was equal to: Embassytown or The City & the City - 4 stars.
For me at least, I felt the same let down after reading Kraken - 4 stars (but maybe 3).

But hell, the guy still has managed to turn out better SF than most. Miéville's bottom stuff (that I've read) is way more compelling than a lot of the genre stuff out there. It was infinitely better than Cherie Priest's Boneshaker. Seriously, I had to bell, book and candle that piece of steampunk garbage. Only time healed those stupid steampunk wounds and I still have the scars.
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- Darwin8u

Book Details

  • Release Date: 10-29-2014
  • Publisher: Random House Audio