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King Rat

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3.53 of 5 stars 3.53  ·  rating details  ·  5,009 ratings  ·  380 reviews
Something is stirring in London's dark, stamping out its territory in brickdust and blood. Something has murdered Saul Garamond's father, and left Saul to pay for the crime.

But a shadow from the urban waste breaks into Saul's prison cell and leads him to freedom. A shadow called King Rat, who reveals Saul's royal heritage, a heritage that opens a new world to Saul, the wor
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Paperback, 320 pages
Published October 6th 2000 by Tor Books (first published 1998)
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Community Reviews

(showing 1-30 of 3,000)
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Nataliya
"Everything starts somewhere, although many physicists disagree."
True to Pratchett's wit and wisdom, even China Mieville's frustratingly good writing had to have its beginnings. And so it begins here, in his first novel 'King Rat', which - as many readers have noted - reads like a close cousin¹ to Neil Gaiman's 'Neverwhere'.
¹ A cousin that the elderly relatives mention only in hushed whispers at family reunions. The heavily tattooed one, with piercings in places you don't want to think of, cl
...more
Mike
Jul 30, 2008 Mike rated it 2 of 5 stars
Recommended to Mike by: Frank
Here's the deal with King Rat: Neil Gaiman and China Mieville were sitting at a pub one cold 1998 evening, right? And China makes some wager with Neil, a wager that Neil ultimately loses. (Let's say China bets him he can't write a better comic book series than The Sandman.) So for losing, Neil has to write a book for China to sell under Mieville's name. Neil writes King Rat. It's got some typical Gaimanisms: a trip through a fantastical underworld two steps removed from the normal version of Lon...more
Evan Leach
WARNING: If the following image causes you to recoil from your computer in terror, King Rat is decidedly not the book for you:
Rats!
  SQUEEEEEEEEK!

On the other hand, if you can look these horrors in the face without losing your lunch, then I very much recommend China Miéville’s entertaining first book. King Rat tells the story of Saul Garamond, a luckless Londoner who is blamed for his father’s untimely death before you can shake a whisker. Happily for Saul, a mysterious stranger named King Rat breaks...more
Jonfaith
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 Ki...more
Erika
I tried to keep in mind when picking up King Rat that it was China Miéville's debut novel and the chances of it being on par or better than PSS weren't high. With that in mind, I wasn't too disappointed.

Saul Garamond's come home to London after a camping excursion and finds the place quiet, empty of its usual domestic element. Instead of bothering about his father's silence, Saul succumbs to exhaustion and is awakened to a confusion of police officers, caution tape and a broken window. Now under...more
pearl
As far as debut novels go, Mieville's King Rat was pretty awesome. Gritty, unsettling, and at times plain disgusting, it was all the nasty sub-London I could handle haha. Overall it was an enjoyable read, the pace quick, the implementation of drum-n-base awesome, and I loved/despised/feared Mieville's take on the Pied Piper of Hamelin. Creeeeeepy. That said, there were times when I felt the action scenes dominated everything else, and the characters were underdeveloped. Saul was not as relatable...more
Lisa
Full Review: http://www.tenaciousreader.com/2014/0...

King Rat is festering with atmosphere and drowns you in a cacophony of Jungle Bass and Drum. It takes you to London’s underside, it’s stinking bowels, and gives life to the world below. It does all this in a very good way. I swear. King Rat is my first taste of Mieville and I’m still not sure if it was the best place for me to start, but it certainly isn’t a bad place to start. This is his debut novel and does not seem to be as widely read or...more
Oscar
'El Rey Rata' fue la primera novela publicada por China Miéville. Incluye algunos de los elementos (pero sólo algunos) que lo harían mundialmente famoso, como son la fantasía urbana, gótica y extraña, incluidas magistralmente en esa obra maestra que es 'La estación de la calle Perdido'. Y es que se nota que es su primera obra, ya que si el planteamiento lo tiene claro, así como el desenlace (más o menos), en el nudo parece que anda algo perdido, las diferentes partes están cogidas como con pinza...more
Matt
The first time I read King Rat, I was stuck at an airport overnight, waiting for an early flight. I don't know why, but I assumed that airports were 24/7 sorts of things, I had no idea that the whole place would shut down, that flights stopped, and that the daily bustle would dissipate, leaving a strange ghost town populated by a handful of the shambling undead, shuffling between the only open coffee shop at one end of the terminal, and the only open seating area at the other. It's a strange atm...more
J.P.
Like most people, I had read other books by the author before getting to this, his debut novel.
While lacking the excellent world building in his later books, this first effort by China Miéville is still way better than most fantasy on the market and a must for his fans.
The protagonist here is one Saul Garamond and he isn’t quite what he appears to be. And thus begins a most imaginative trip through a world within a world populated with all sorts of interesting characters. A typically dark urban...more
[Name Redacted]
This was the first book by China Mieville I encountered, back in the late 90s when Barnes & Noble still published weekly/monthly genre-specific magazines filled with reviews of new books. I thought the premise sounded intriguing, but I never got around to reading it and then I wound up in the jungle for a few years -- surprisingly, there are no bookstores in the jungle.

When I returned, I discovered that Mieville had been crowned the New Gaiman and I was told that I had to read and revere hi...more
Kim
After reading Perdido Street Station I thought for my next Miéville book I would go back to the beginning. Released in 1998 this book is a lot different to the other books of his I've read. You can tell it was his début work as it lacks the refinement of later novels.

The most marked difference though is the lack of a certain type of "character". By this I mean the setting. I don't know if all his books are the same but so far in the ones I've read the setting is as much a character as anyone/th...more
Derek (Guilty of thoughtcrime)
Come and join us in the Miévillans group for a group discussion of this fabulous first novel by China Miéville. [In honor of His Chinaness, the pun on fabulous is entirely intended.]

While this shows some of the roughness of a first novel, it's got many of the hallmarks of his later work. London features strongly as not just the setting, but a character in its own right. The opening of chapter one feels very much like Perdido Street Station, and the rats-eye view of London reflects a theme, to be...more
Keith Deininger
Very much like a Neil Gaiman urban fantasy, with characters more difficult to care about than Mieville's later fantasy work, but with hints of his imaginative brilliance nonetheless. Still, a very good read.
sologdin
Seems likely that this was inspired by the reading of comic books. The narrator is likened to a "superhero" on several occasions (171, 287), and very specifically thinks "of a comic-book hero: Batman or Daredevil. Silhouetted in the ruined window, King Rat looked like a scene-setting frame at the start of a graphic novel" (259). With those types of framing devices, the narrative proceeds as anti-superhero story (and of course there're no graphic components).

The subject matter is several strands...more
Michael
After reading Perdido Street Station, I was expecting King Rat to knock my socks off. It didn't. But, it was a fun horror tale about rodent royalty and the Pied Piper of Hamelin. And, I think it would translate into a really cool graphic novel.

The main character's dad dies mysteriously, and he is the only suspect. While he's between interrogations, he's sprung by King Rat. King Rat is the king of the rats. He reveals some secret stuff about Our Hero's past, and informs him that the Pied Piper o...more
Nikki
China Miéville really loves writing about cities, doesn't he? And not pretty, fantasy cities, but "real" cities, gritty cities, the underside of cities. It's interesting. Again, this book reminded me of Gaiman's Neverwhere more than a little, while also managing to be different. The weaving in of Drum and Bass music as part of the city was interesting and different, and the Pied Piper was interesting. The book even surprised me a little -- when I found out about Saul's real father.

The book in ge...more
Son of Sam Quixote
Saul is framed for the murder of his father and sent to jail where he’s somehow broken out by a mysterious character calling himself King Rat. King Rat reveals Saul’s mother was secretly a rat and that he belongs underneath London, in a dark and magical place among the rats!

This was my first China Mieville book and might be my last - it certainly made no positive impression on me to make me want to seek out more of this author’s work. The main character, Saul, is a charmless cipher, bumbling ar...more
Andrew
OK, I actually finished this one last week sometime, but I've been sick ever since and having trouble coming up with the energy to write anything. So this may not be as accurate as it would be had I written it the day I finished reading "King Rat", but I'll do my best.

This book is about a twenty-something boy in London who still lives with his father and is resisting the process of growing up, spending his time and money hanging out in the drum n' bass scene, hitting up dance parties and traveli...more
James
I will pretty much read anything, in fact I will actively try and read books that are beyond any groove I may have become stuck in. I savour the omnivores richness, or at least I prefer that description the one of having no taste or discernment. Be it as it may King Rat is a book that is well beyond my normal diet, although if the goodreads reviews are anything to go by it bears more then a passing resemblance to the books by Neil Gaiman. It is the story of a man who get rescued by a gigantic ra...more
Gary
Read it on the plane to New York and it kept me absorbed throughout - good job as my row of seats couldn't view any films during the flight! It's very British/London in it's flavour and no spoilers but it's a reworking of an old myth in modern London that works superbly.
I could see some of the scenes being fantastic in a film setting and I can't understand why the movie hasn't come out yet - oh yes I know why, there are still some crap old TV series and movies that need to be remade again and ag...more
Jason Coffman
This feels like the book China Miéville wrote in high school-- and for all I know, he actually did! Without giving too much away, most of "King Rat" feels like an American McGee "twisted fairy tale" with numerous very specific references to the drum and bass/jungle club culture of the 90s that make the book seem painfully dated. Everyone has to start somewhere-- it's kind of nice to realize Miéville is actually a person whose talent had to bloom instead of imagining him just sitting down one day...more
Ben
Mieville’s debut is a stylish fantasy reimagining the tale of the Pied Piper against the backdrop of contemporary London. His take on the myth is decidedly dark, rife with emotional torment and brutal violence. Mieville never flinches from his characters’ suffering; in fact, he seems to revel in it at times. It’s never ‘gratuitous,’ however, but rather a reflection of the seriousness of an artistic vision which seeks to drag the genre kicking and screaming towards new literary horizons: a breed...more
Bethan
The story starts out in present tense and moves awkwardly into past tense soon after the story proper gets moving, then it quickly begins to become engaging in style.

However, in chapter 2 we are endlessly regaled with the story of Saul's whole life and much of his father's life to put their background in perspective, presumably because it should be relevant to the story. I've run across this in another very popular book by the same author, where the set up seems to take most of the book and noth...more
Ruth
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Leonardo
Last year, after reading China Miéville's "The Tain" (as "El azogue", the only Spanish translation of any of his works, as far as I know), I was decidedly intrigued by this "newcomer". So I was very eager and hopeful about immersing myself in one of his novels. And I was certainly not dissapointed by the dark urban fantasy and fairy tale revisionism of his work, even though I'm aware of other review in Goodreads that point out that it's good enough for a first novel, but that his later work is m...more
Dani Smith
King Rat has to be one of my favourite fantasy reads of all time. I picked it up on a whim some years ago and have re-read it probably five or six times. This was China's first novel, and Tor Books was obviously taking a bit of a risk with this one. The book is pure London grit: dark, foul, seethingly clever, taking the wispy delicacy of an old fairy tale, slashing it up, sewing its mouth shut, and throwing it back in the reader's face like a gory piece of meat (bloodspatter! Yes!!).
The characte...more
Vasha7
This, Miéville's début novel, is an entertaining though not very substantial fantasy tale that brings the tale of the Pied Piper to modern London, where he's still battling the king of the rats. As in his later works, Miéville writes with real though ambivalent affection of grimy London, which he presents as a character in its own right, both a cold hostile "idea sprung from its own mind" and pulsing with the life of its inhabitants, human and animal. And he gets in a plug for socialist revoluti...more
Luke Harris
China Miéville has already established himself as one of my favourite writers. I loved all three of the Bas-Lag novels, so I thought I would backtrack and read his debut.

King Rat has many of the Miéville distinctions of those books, but it's very different as well. For a start, it's set in London, so rather than the long intricate descriptions of New Crobuzon or Armada, you have long, intricate descriptions of London instead. This aspect I liked very much, mainly for its accuracy. He seems to c...more
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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
More about China Miéville...
Perdido Street Station (Bas-Lag, #1) The City & the City The Scar (Bas-Lag, #2) Embassytown Kraken

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“A trap is only a trap if you don't know about it. If you know about it, it's a challenge.” 2297 likes
“– Один плюс один равняется одному, твою мать, – сказал он и тяжело обрушил флейту на челюсть Дудочника. Тот отшатнулся, но не упал. – Я не крыса плюс человек, усек? Я больше, чем один из двух, и я больше, чем оба. Я новое существо. Ты не заставишь меня танцевать.” 1 likes
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