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The Tain

3.96  ·  Rating Details ·  427 Ratings  ·  25 Reviews
The tale takes place in a ravaged, post-apocalyptic London. A man named Sholl survives by knowing the safe parts of town, and those where people go in and never come out. He’s been living on his own for a while, and decides to befriend a makeshift unit of soldiers camped out in the south of Hampstead Heath. They seem to have their wits about them, unlike other units scatte ...more
Paperback, 89 pages
Published December 30th 2002 by PS Publishing (first published 2002)
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Jacob It's anthologized in China's first collection, Looking for Jake ( and the multi-author Cities anthology (…moreIt's anthologized in China's first collection, Looking for Jake ( and the multi-author Cities anthology ( There may be others, but those two are all I know.(less)
For Whom The Bell Tolls (Vlad Dracula, #1) by Shane K.P. O'NeillThe Culling by Anthony HulseA World of Terror by Christopher  ShieldsSorrow's Point by Danielle DeVorSpellbound by Jennifer Adele
Bring on the Creepy!
426th out of 475 books — 484 voters
Perdido Street Station by China MiévilleMagic America by C.E. MedfordThe Etched City by K.J. BishopCity of Saints and Madmen by Jeff VanderMeerAnnihilation by Jeff VanderMeer
New Weird Books
93rd out of 112 books — 36 voters

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Community Reviews

(showing 1-30 of 1,624)
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Humanity has won a war that we don't even remember anymore. And now it's payback time. Because, unlike us, the conquered did not forget.
As a famous quote goes, "When you look long into an abyss a mirror, the abyss mirror also looks into you."

What if the image you see, glancing at yourself in the mirror, was not merely a reflection, but one of the sentient once-powerful beings now, after a long-lost war, trapped on the other side, in another world, and forced to painfully assume your shape an
Arielle Walker
I made the terrible mistake of reading this in bed, oblivious (at first) to the large mirror that hangs on the wall directly opposite, framing my face perfectly at the time of reading. And then the revelations hit a few pages in and I found myself glancing up every now and then to check my reflection was still in place, distrusting, before finally sliding warily down the bed out of sight of the mirror. It's pretty hard to read all squashed against a wall but the words get to you like that and it ...more
¿Qué pasa si el elegido entiende mal para que lo eligieron?

Me he llevado una buena primera impresión de China Miéville, ¡este relato me ha encantado! Lo único malo es su corta extensión.

En un Londres apocalíptico, luego de la invasión de los Imagos, Sholl descubre que es el único humano al que los enemigos temen (o no desean) tocar y tiene la certeza de que ha sido escogido para hablar con el comandante invasor: el Pez del Espejos.

Al mismo tiempo, tenemos partes relatadas por un pachogo, un m
Kyle Muntz
Sep 10, 2015 Kyle Muntz rated it it was ok
Well this is a surprise. I expected to love this (I mean, it's a conceptual vampire novella by China Mieville), but I mostly didn't like it at all. A lot of that had to do with the survivalist machismo that always annoys me about post-apocalyptic writing, plus the fact that even though they were sentient, Mieville's vampires still felt mostly like zombies. There were lots of large groups in this story, but no interesting characters. The fatal blow for me: the idea is complex, but also struck me ...more
May 15, 2016 Javir11 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
De poder le hubiera puesto 3.5 estrellas.

Esta novela corta tiene cosas muy buenas, como la historia, la ambientación, el ritmo narrativo, una prosa brutal, pero le falla el desenlace.

El final no es que sea malo, es que simplemente no es lo que te esperas. Miéville se pasa toda la novela preparándote para un desenlace, que luego no tiene nada que ver con lo que te había planteado. Supongo que intentó crear algo sorprendente y lo consiguió, pero precisamente esa sorpresa es la única emoción positi
Jay Z
Aug 29, 2011 Jay Z rated it it was amazing
Shelves: fantasy
my god. this man will stretch your imagination till it breaks.
May 03, 2011 Cecilia rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Edward Rathke
Jul 12, 2015 Edward Rathke rated it really liked it
This is a very awesome and wholly interesting take on vampires. Set as a war between two species, it contains very little violence and on action set pieces. It's more about concept than about movement, but it's a very interesting one.

Also, includes some of my favorite elements to play with.

But, yeah, very solid novella. Not my favorite and not Mieville at his best, but this is more than worth its time.
Jul 27, 2011 Charles rated it really liked it
Shelves: read-and-gone
I read this book a while ago, so I'm not as clear as I'd like to be. I couldn't decide 3 or 4 stars. The book was kind of depressing. It focused a lot on a group whose bodies had been altered, maybe for a purpose like improving a soldier, but usually just for punishment. But, this was a permanent, usually life destroying process.

Overall, the book had a lot of society rejects like that, who were accepted in this society. For example, there were vampires. But, there was a blood tax from the people
Borges en una página de su Manual de zoología fantástica cuenta lo que se sabe sobre los animales de los espejos. Miéville transforma esa página en un cuento largo y -sin salir de su estilo- logra un relato interesante.
May 18, 2016 Lokidm rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Novela corta sumamente interesante. Al principio es un poco raro porque no sabes que ha sucedido, pero poco a poco se va explicando y volviéndose adictiva.
K. Tempest Bradford
Feb 07, 2014 K. Tempest Bradford rated it it was amazing
Shelves: fiction
Not a huge fan of China's short stories, but this novella is just the right length. This is actually his strongest length and this story -- so awesome.
Apr 20, 2016 Matthew rated it really liked it
Shelves: fiction, fantasy
Included in Miéville's "Looking for Jake" collection.
Feb 05, 2016 Tyler rated it really liked it
The Tain by China Mieville is a 90-odd page novella set in a dystopian future London where our mirror images, in effect the reflections of our vanity, have come to life and escaped into the real world. The story's told in a deeply unsettling but also slightly ambiguous way, and much of the reveal doesn't happen until half way through - the reader doesn't really know what's going on until then.

I liked it, but would have preferred if there would have been more delving into these imagos lives, thei
-De homenajes, abundancia de ruido y escasez de nueces.-

Género. Novela corta.

Lo que nos cuenta. Londres, como el resto del mundo, está casi desierta y destruida en parte tras el ataque de un enemigo del que se nos van dando detalles poco a poco. Sholl, nuestro protagonista, tiene un plan para terminar con la guerra.

¿Quiere saber más de este libro, sin spoilers? Visite:
Jul 10, 2012 Josh rated it it was amazing
The Tain is an example of how China Mieville does it right. This post-apocalyptic novella kicks butt, for lack of a better term. It's creative, epic, dark, and fun, all wrapped up in one. I devoured this story in one brief sitting. My only complaint is that it ended so soon, not that it should have or could have been longer -- I just enjoyed my time in this story. Props to Mr. Mieville.
Nov 19, 2014 Maru rated it liked it
3.5 stars!
Holly the Infinite Book Dragon
This was my introduction to China Mieville. His work was recommended to me by a friend, of which I am so thankful! Since it is a short piece, a novella really, I decided to begin with this to get an idea of his writing. What hauntingly beautiful writing it is! I look forward to reading the rest of his work.
Jun 11, 2015 Rebecca rated it liked it
Strange creatures are attacking the human race, possibly formed somehow in mirrors. Sholl is special for some reason, and tries to do something to end the war, and what that was I'm still unclear on.
Aug 31, 2011 Ryan rated it really liked it
The Tain tells the tale of the main heroic figure of Celtic Mythology. It is certainly a fun read, but the overall theme of heroism being tied to loyalty to your tribe is a bit disturbing.
Theo Albert
Feb 03, 2015 Theo Albert rated it did not like it
I've read nearly all Mieville's other books and liked them a lot, but I really struggled to figure out what was going on with this one and more importantly why.
Robert Spencer
Dec 17, 2011 Robert Spencer rated it it was amazing
The idea Mieville has come up with in this story is worth the purchase price alone. Surely one of the greatest pieces of short fantasy fiction of all time
Jon Smithers
Apr 27, 2013 Jon Smithers rated it really liked it
This story made me scared of my own reflection (literally)
Jul 18, 2012 René rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Aquí se cuenta una rendición.
Karen marked it as to-read
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Ricardo Gladwell marked it as to-read
Sep 25, 2016
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A British "fantastic fiction" writer. He is fond of describing his work as "weird fiction" (after early 20th century pulp and horror writers such as H. P. Lovecraft), and belongs to a loose group of writers sometimes called New Weird who consciously attempt to move fantasy away from commercial, genre clichés of Tolkien epigons. He is also active in left-wing politics as a member of the Socialist W ...more
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