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The Scar by China Mieville

The Scar (original 2002; edition 2004)

by China Mieville

MembersReviewsPopularityAverage ratingMentions
3,8401001,343 (4.11)205
Title:The Scar
Authors:China Mieville
Info:Del Rey (2004), Mass Market Paperback, 608 pages
Collections:Your library
Tags:Carnegie Library of Pittsburgh, science fiction paperback

Work details

The Scar by China Miéville (2002)

  1. 10
    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 (98)  French (2)  All languages (100)
Showing 1-5 of 98 (next | show all)
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 |
Miéville writes beautiful descriptions. Everything else about this book was a slog to get through, from the monologues he has characters give in the midst of battles to the repetitious similes. Another annoying tick: characters had (incredibly obvious) realizations and then spent pages thinking about how much their mind was blown. Yes yes, we get it, your whole universe is rocked on its axis by the very idea that, say, a spy might have collected plans for an invasion. Let's get on with the story, shall we? Oh no, we have to spend at least three more pages reading descriptions of how this totally shocks you? All righty then.

There were some bits here I really liked, like Tanner's conflicted feelings about the ocean deeps, or the idea behind the scabmettlers. The ideas behind Miéville's societies are good, but he doesn't follow them up well--I still don't know how a single character ate, or where they got their clothes, or anything like that. There wasn't much foundation to the world building, just a lot of flash and wordy purpley description.

I got annoyed that not a single female character succeeded at anything. There are exactly four female characters with any page time: Bellis, who is literally only useful as a conduit for male characters' actions. She translates what men (and the Lover) say to other men. She takes a book from the man who found it and gives it to the men who want it. She's manipulated by Silas Fennec to get information from Uther Doul and vice versa. Fennec gives her a letter which Tanner actually has the adventure of delivering. On and on--there literally is not a single instance in this entire book in which Bellis does a single thing of her own accord. She's delightfully cold, misanthropic and lonely, so I assumed I'd love her, but her incompetence and unending supply of naivete really annoyed me. There's Shekel's girlfriend, who doesn't do anything except provide Shekel an opportunity to get over his prejudice against the Remade and Tanner a chance to show off his engineering skills. Carrianne is Bellis's friend from the library, who has about three lines, no plot purpose and mostly serves to introduce the idea of the goretax. And there's the Lover, who has I think two monologues and that's it. To add insult to injury, after the fact we realize Uther Doul convinced her that they need to get the power of the Rift, which was her driving force through the entire book, so even her motivation isn't her own. In the end, she's deposed rather randomly and vanishes off the boat. Every other character is male and every single goddamn thing that happens in this entire goddamn book is driven by dudes. It is dumb and it started really straining my ability to believe the world.

As for the plot...well, it's very episodic and poorly paced, and the main characters are completely useless within it. I had a really hard time maintaining interest in this. ( )
  wealhtheowwylfing | Feb 29, 2016 |
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» Add other authors (6 possible)

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Miéville, Chinaprimary authorall 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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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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