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The Scar
(2003)
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Author: China Mieville
Publisher: Tor
Language: English
Pages: 624
ISBN: 9780330392907
Genre: Fiction
Format: Paperback

The question was always: what would he do for an encore? China Mieville's third novel The Scar is set in the same world as his award-winning Perdido Street Station but is a very different book, set in a very different city. Where his New Crobuzon was an old metropolis of cruelty, oppression and glamour, the floating freebooter city Armada is a place of refuge even for those who experience it as a prison. Brilliant linguist Bellis Coldwine is on the run when she is press-ganged by pirates who turn out to be rather more; her abilities make her a valuable commodity and she finds herself intermittently useful to a project so ambitious that it takes her much of the book to comprehend fully. Mieville takes interesting chances by making Bellis his protagonist--she has an arrogant selfishness that at times makes one breathless--but her guts, determination and intermittent realism about herself gradually endear her to us. This is an intelligent book about how individuals and events influence each other and the meaning of freedom. Mieville has a sense of the sea as the place of a menace almost incomprehensibly huge; like Perdido Street Station, The Scar is full of breath-taking moments of wonder which are also moments of heart-stopping terror. --Roz Kaveney