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King Rat (1998)

by China Miéville

Other authors: See the other authors section.

MembersReviewsPopularityAverage ratingMentions
1,822576,706 (3.54)91
Something is stirring in London's dark, stamping out its territory in brickdust and blood. Something has murdered Saul's father, and left Saul to pay for the crime. But a shadow from the urban waste breaks into his prison cell and leads him to freedom. A shadow called King Rat. In the night-land behind London's facade, in sewers and slums and rotting dead spaces, Saul must learn his true nature. Grotesque murders rock the city like a curse. Mysterious forces prepare for a showdown. With Drum and Bass pounding the backstreets, Saul confronts his bizarre inheritance - in the badlands of South London, in the heart of darkness, at the gathering of the Junglist Massive. Like the DJ says: 'Time for the Badman.'… (more)
  1. 50
    Neverwhere by Neil Gaiman (chani, MyriadBooks, jeanned)
    MyriadBooks: For vanishing within the shadows of the city.
    jeanned: Disappearing into the unseen parts of London
  2. 10
    Pollen by Jeff Noon (wandering_star)
  3. 00
    The Book on Fire by Keith Miller (MyriadBooks)
    MyriadBooks: For relishing the exploration of the shadow side of things.
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» See also 91 mentions

English (55)  Italian (1)  Russian (1)  All languages (57)
Showing 1-5 of 55 (next | show all)
No one can set the atmosphere of his stories with a few well-placed descriptions like China Mieville. It's a gruesome, disturbing reality that Saul Garamond is sucked into when he meets the King of Rats to support him in his fight against the Piper of Hamelin, and it's the underworld of London, the literal sewers as well as the subculture of Drum'n'Bass, that serves as their battlefield.

The story is not the most intricate, but even in this debut Mievielle proves that he is first and foremost a master wordsmith. The vividness of his environments and the depth of his characters is not so much one of ideas, but of presentation, resulting in a story to fall into. He could probably make the life of an oak tree an intricate story. ( )
  DeusXMachina | Feb 24, 2020 |
A clunky read at times (as I have often found Miéville's books to be )
but... what a brilliant ending! The protagonist manages to turn the tables on the villain in the most complete and satisfying way - and it is all conveyed in a single sentence - obliterated, wiped out, tabula rasa, dead parrot! - he manages to destroy everything the villain stands for and worked towards during all of the narration and he does it with a single gesture, remaining completely in character, true to his life and beliefs and "honoring the father" (his real father, the one who brought him up, duh), his true roots, - pure genius.
  vittithing | May 31, 2019 |
This is Young Adult???!!! ( )
  miri12 | May 31, 2019 |
The radio existed to communicate. But here it was failing, it had gone rogue, it had forgotten its purpose like the piano, and the people could not reclaim the city.

A few weeks ago I listened to a London Review podcast of Miéville
reading a story about the immolation of animals. It was certainly the New Weird, the images clung to me, no doubt enhanced by his nuanced delivery. Miéville said he found the story a child of Austerity. I liked that. I suppose a YA audience would like the milieu of King Rat, whereas I did not. I hated the book. It is lad lit expressing daddy issues. It is a clumsy reworking of a few myths with the virtual art of Drum and Bass spot-welded on board to provide urban edge. I read this as a part of a group read but I was afraid to spoil the collective mood with my face-palming and kvetching. I expected much more from that strangely talented author.
( )
  jonfaith | Feb 22, 2019 |
This urban grunge fantasy is Mieville's debut novel and the first of his works I've read. This is a riff on the Pied Piper of Hamlin and is imaginative and fast-paced. The language is delightful as is the imagery. The plot, however, is entirely predictable and there is one clear flaw in the plot, having to do with the protagonist's ability to resist the Rat Catcher's tune when no one else can. Still, it's a fun and fast read, and shows Mieville's developing talent. I'll read more of his work. ( )
  Laurenbdavis | Aug 2, 2017 |
Showing 1-5 of 55 (next | show all)
Saul Garamond is arrested when his father is found dead having fallen, jumped or been pushed, through a window of their house. Saul is sprung from custody by a mysterious figure who calls himself King Rat and asserts that Saul’s mother was a Rat. King Rat is able to move freely between the London which Saul knows and the unnoticed spaces which constitute a hidden Rat city. Under his tutelage Saul becomes rat-like too but King Rat, of course, is not quite what he seems. In this netherworld Saul also meets the Bird Superior, Loplop, and Anansi, head of the spiders. Meanwhile Saul’s friend Natasha, a creator/DJ of Drum and Bass, is befriended by a mysterious flute player called Pete and Police Inspector Crowley is increasingly puzzled by the spate of bizarre and bloody murders occurring on his patch.

The other city conceit seems to be one of Miéville’s running themes; it also occurs in Un Lun Dun and THE CITY & YTIC EHT though of course this would be its first appearance. This one is very London-centric though, which annoyed me strangely.

The language of the novel is simple; even a little sketchy at times. In this it has pre-echoes of Un Lun Dun. Indeed, were it not for the violence and the expletives this could well have been a tale for young adults.

Though the plot strands do cohere and music is integral to its resolution, at times the novel appears diffuse, as if it does not know whether to be a fantasy, a musical odyssey or a police procedural - though it has embedded within it a nice retelling of the Pied Piper of Hamelin story told from the rats’ point of view. Miéville also takes the opportunity to throw in a minor bit of political consciousness raising.

Had I read this on first publication I could certainly have foreseen an Un Lun Dun - though perhaps not a Perdido Street Station.

But… One of the characters seems to be under the impression that layered music never existed before Drum and Bass. Come off it.
added by jackdeighton | editA Son Of The Rock, Jack Deighton (Oct 28, 2010)
 

» Add other authors (3 possible)

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Miéville, Chinaprimary authorall editionsconfirmed
Clive BarkerIntroductionsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Moran, MarkCover artistsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Nielsen, CliffCover artistsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed

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A London Sometin' ...

        Tek 9
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To Max
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I can squeeze between buildings through spaces you can't even see.
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Something is stirring in London's dark, stamping out its territory in brickdust and blood. Something has murdered Saul's father, and left Saul to pay for the crime. But a shadow from the urban waste breaks into his prison cell and leads him to freedom. A shadow called King Rat. In the night-land behind London's facade, in sewers and slums and rotting dead spaces, Saul must learn his true nature. Grotesque murders rock the city like a curse. Mysterious forces prepare for a showdown. With Drum and Bass pounding the backstreets, Saul confronts his bizarre inheritance - in the badlands of South London, in the heart of darkness, at the gathering of the Junglist Massive. Like the DJ says: 'Time for the Badman.'

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