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The Scar by China Mieville

The Scar (original 2002; edition 2004)

by China Mieville

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3,8841011,324 (4.11)207
Title:The Scar
Authors:China Mieville
Info:Del Rey (2004), Mass Market Paperback, 608 pages
Collections:Your library

Work details

The Scar by China Miéville (2002)

  1. 00
    City of Stairs by Robert Jackson Bennett (davisfamily)
    davisfamily: A mystery within a unique setting. Interesting mix of Religion and Politics.
  2. 12
    The Book on Fire by Keith Miller (MyriadBooks)
    MyriadBooks: For the depiction of the city.
  3. 03
    Scar Lover by Harry Crews (bertilak)

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English (99)  French (2)  All languages (101)
Showing 1-5 of 99 (next | show all)
These might not be the most coherent thoughts I've written.
I am exhausted. I wasn't allowed to choose one side and stick to it. I kept switching. And I loved it.

The Scar is more adventure than Perdido Street Station and not just because most of it happens on a floating pirate city. There are mysteries, lies and betrayals, spies, monsters, magic, naval battles and so on. It's not even a spoiler; after you read the description of the book, you expect nothing less.

Bellis Coldwine, one of the protagonists, is first mentioned in the first book as Isaac Dan der Grimnebulin's previous lover, who left him because she got bored of his 'rumbustiousness'. Can't say I blame her. They couldn't be more different. I didn't like Bellis at all. When she wasn't angry at people, the world, the situation, she was mopping around Armada.
The way she is introduced is completely opposite of garuda Yagharek: when you meet the garuda, you meet the present Yagharek and make your own mind about him before you find out anything about his crime. You get to see a side of him that you'd probably ignore otherwise. I found Bellis irritating right away. She is a really unpleasant person.

It tells a lot about the writing and the story when a character this unlikeable hasn't managed to ruin anything for me. Further more, her character, such as it is, is a very important part of the plot. If she had been just a bit more passionate, she would have been one of the strongest female characters I've read.

Bellis Coldwine is an unavoidable linchpin for the main story and someone who pushes the events forward, but she herself isn't very distinguishable.

The consequences of Isaac's actions in Perdido Street Station can be seen here, albeit indirectly and miles away from New Crobuzon. As someone Isaac knew, Bellis was forced to flee the city. She lied her way on a ship headed for a new colony. The ship also transported a lot of prisoners, most of them Remade.
Armada assimilated them most. I can't blame the Remade for wanting to make Armada their home.The Remade are paid for the work they do.
Everyone is equal on Armada even though some are a bit more equal than others.
Armada by Franco Brambilla
Link to more artwork and one of the reasons why I read this longer.

There are so many fascinating characters and beings here that a whole review could be written only about them. Miéville can also make us feel sorry for the monsters - anophelii female trying to talk to the man and being shot because they were afraid she was hungry is understandable, terrifying and heartbreaking at the same time.

Armada consists of different sections with different rulers. The most intriguing character (I bet I am not the only one) in the book does not get any explanation. Uther Doul tells Bellis part of his story, but he still manages to stay mysterious.

Even after reading the book, my feelings towards Armada are ambiguous. I can't seem to make up my mind. I see the wrongs of it, but I can't forget the Remade and a lot of other things. One thing is certain, the first impression of Armada is definitely not the right one.

( )
  Aneris | Aug 12, 2016 |
This was a slow read for me, and I didn't find it as compelling as some of China Miéville's other works. It dragged on a lot through the middle. And I became impatient with the protagonist's disdain for everyone and everything else. I liked Perdido Street Station a lot, so I'm disappointed that this one wasn't as much to my tastes. ( )
  lavaturtle | Mar 28, 2016 |
The Scar by China Miéville is set in the alternate world of Bas-Lag and is the second book in the New Crobuzon Series following Perdido Street Station. In The Scar linguist Bellis Coldwine is fleeing the city of New Crobuzon by signing up to serve on a ship heading for the colony of Nova Esperium. On her journey, pirates capture the ship, and everyone onboard is taken to the Armada, a floating city composed of captured ships that is ruled by the Lovers, a twisted sadomasochistic couple.

The Lovers have a mysterious plan they want to set into motion while at the same time others have secret agendas, plans, and schemes of their own. Exactly who can be trusted and is anyone telling the truth? As The Scar progresses, numerous revelations and surprises unfold. The plot is riveting. I could hardly wait to read what would happen next, especially since I knew the outcomes would generally not be predictable.

As expected, Miéville's writing is incredibly creative. His use of words and descriptions is astonishing. The setting, while in Bas-Lag, expands on the world and the mythology originally set forth in Perdido Street Station. It is inclusive and inventive, even while Miéville has tighter control of this story. The Scar follows a more linear pace than Perdido Street Station, which is great because of all the surprises and plot twists in The Scar.With the creation of a totally new world inhabited with unique characters, and unpredictable plot-lines China Miéville has proved without a doubt that's he is one great writer.

Admittedly, Bellis is not a sympathetic character, but she's not supposed to be emotionally accessible. She is living a solitary life and keeps tight control of her emotions. As a newly captured member of the Armada, she knows very little about the city and it's inhabitants. Miéville wisely keeps her true to her character and the personality he created all the way through the novel. Bellis is literally swept along by events that are totally out of her control and beyond her immediate understanding. And I like this very much because it seemed so true to life. All the other supporting characters are equally well developed and interesting.

As for the Scar, the Scar itself is not only a real place, but it also manifests itself in numerous other ways, as a mark left after cutting, as damage done, emotionally or physically. Even when wounds heal, they always leave some mark. Nothing can be as it once was - there is always a change. Scars are the price of change.

Very Highly Recommended; http://shetreadssoftly.blogspot.com/
( )
  SheTreadsSoftly | Mar 21, 2016 |
This writer has the most fantastic imagination and wonderful prose. ( )
  seschanfield | Mar 7, 2016 |
The Scar opens with the journey of a small ship which has set out from the city New Crobuzon (the setting of Perdido Street Station). It is heading to the city's new colony, Nova Esperium, which lies across the Swollen Ocean of Bas-Lag. On board the ship are:

Bellis Coldwine, a cold, reserved linguist who is fleeing for her life for her alleged connection to the events in Perdido Street Station.
Johannes Tearfly, a scientist whose interests lie in megafauna and underwater sealife.
Tanner Sack, a Remade criminal (that is, he has had his body surgically and magically altered as punishment for his crime) who is bound for slavery.
Shekel, a young cabin boy who befriends Tanner.
Before the ship reaches Nova Esperium, it is captured by pirates, and the passengers, crew and prisoners are all press-ganged into being citizens of Armada, a floating city made of thousands of ships. Tanner uses his newfound freedom to embrace his remaking. He has his body further remade and the earlier, rough work perfected, becoming an amphibious sea-creature. Treated now as an equal citizen rather than a prisoner or slave, Tanner's loyalties fiercely lie in Armada.

Bellis meanwhile despises her new life as a librarian for the city's vast collection of stolen books, and yearns for home (somewhat ironically, as she was originally fleeing it). She gains the attention of the powerful Uther Doul, bodyguard to the Lovers, the mysterious, scarred leaders of Armada. Doul, for his own reasons, involves Bellis much more closely in the city's matters. She soon becomes privy to a plan formulated by the Lovers to raise a mythical sea creature known as the avanc. Simultaneously, she meets a New Crobuzonian spy named Silas Fennec, who reveals that the grindylow of the Cold Claw Sea are planning war on New Crobuzon. Silas was on his way home to warn his leaders of this war (thus saving the millions of innocents who might be slaughtered by the grindylow) when he was captured by Armada. Bellis and Silas find romantic interest in each other, and commiserate that they are powerless to save their home city.

Soon enough Bellis, in Armada's library, stumbles across the information that the Lovers need to raise the avanc. Knowing that she must get a message home, Bellis destroys that information. This forces the Lovers to seek Krüach Aum, now the only person who knows how to summon the mythical creature. Armada mounts an expedition to his unnamed island home, which is the island of the dreaded Anophelii (a horrific and deadly race of mosquito-people). The Lovers find Aum and the information they need, while Bellis uses their time out of Armada to get a message home, to warn of the impending grindylow invasion. Armada then successfully raises the avanc and captures it – no mean feat, as the avanc is an immense creature, several miles long. The Lovers' true plan is finally revealed: to use the great speed and pulling power of the avanc to find the fabled Scar, a place in the world where reality breaks down and anything is possible. The Lovers see this as a source of ultimate power.

On the journey far into unmapped waters, numerous matters threaten the city. Silas Fennec's actions, which have been far from honest all along, single-handedly bring down the fury of the New Crobuzon navy and the inhuman wrath of the grindylows. Following this a civil war breaks out within the city. Then, terribly wounded, Armada finally nears the Scar, and faces the unsettling horrors that accompany the breakdown of possibility.

  bostonwendym | Mar 3, 2016 |
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» Add other authors (6 possible)

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Miéville, Chinaprimary authorall editionsconfirmed
Lynch, DamianNarratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Mège, NathalieTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Miller, EdwardCover artistsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Villa, ElisaTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Wood, AshleyCover artistsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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Yet the memory would not set into the setting sun, that green and frozen glance to the wide blue sea where broken hearts are wrecked out of their wounds. A blind sky bleached white the intellect of human bone, skinning the emotions from the fracture to reveal the grief underneath. And the mirror reveals me, a naked and vulnerable fact. --Dambudzo Marechera, Black Sunlight
To Claudia, my mother.
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A mile below the lowest cloud, rock breaches water and the sea begins.
I am the Brucolac, and your sword won't save you. You think you can face me?
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Haiku summary
New Weird pirate yarn:
Floating collectivist state/
Sea-beast chariot!

Amazon.com Amazon.com Review (ISBN 0345460014, Mass Market Paperback)

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

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:22:27 -0400)

(see all 5 descriptions)

A group of prisoners and slaves, their bodies remade into grotesque biological oddities, find themselves on the Armada, a floating city whose bizarre leaders harbor a sinister agenda.

(summary from another edition)

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