I love, love, LOVE this book! It's silly and fun and clever and sweet and my recent re-read only served to remind me how wonderful it is. I really nee...moreI love, love, LOVE this book! It's silly and fun and clever and sweet and my recent re-read only served to remind me how wonderful it is. I really need to buy my own copy, because this would be a great read any time I need a light-hearted escape from the real world.(less)
The Scar is a vast improvement over Perdido Street Station. Set in the world of Bas-Lag, but not in New Crobuzon, this is a good, solid, entertaining...moreThe Scar is a vast improvement over Perdido Street Station. Set in the world of Bas-Lag, but not in New Crobuzon, this is a good, solid, entertaining read from beginning to end.
Mieville has overcome most of PSS's weaknesses here. This plot is far more tight and controlled. Don't misunderstand, there are plenty of twists, turns and surprises, but the storyline moves continually forward, not splintering into disparate and confusing arcs that don't ever, in many cases in PSS, come back together. Character development was much more focused, well-paced and realistic. I didn't have any jarring moments where I thought, "What? No! No way he/she would do/say that!" as I did in PSS.
The Scar is a dark, gritty, fantastical, exciting, horrifying, heart-breaking, wonderfully imaginative story of human (or not, as the case may be) nature in many and varied circumstances. There is power and the different personalities of those who hold it and the many ways they use, misuse, abuse, or are used by it. There are loyal followers and the good, bad, confused, or even never understood reasons they follow the leaders they have chosen. There are manipulators and manipulated, and at the heart of it all is Bellis, a woman torn from her homeland and thrown out into an unfamiliar world, and then torn from even that world into a world she feels no control over or loyalty to. At its simplest, The Scar is the story of how Bellis struggles to hang on to control of her own destiny and to her true self, even as that self is altered forever by the events in which she is caught up.
But The Scar is far from simple. Gloriously, wondrously so.
Oh, and did I mention that there are pirates and sorcery and undefeatable warriors and vampir and grindylows and leviathan and innumerable fantastic beings and (unfortunately) a vast overuse of the word puissant?(less)
This is not only one of my favorite fantasy books of all time. It is one of my favorite books of all time period.
Short synopsis: The story of two lan...moreThis is not only one of my favorite fantasy books of all time. It is one of my favorite books of all time period.
Short synopsis: The story of two lands, ruled by two sorcerers, one defeated by the other and under a spell that prevents any but natives from speaking or even hearing its true name.
That is the set-up for the story, but it miserably fails to express its heart. For its heart is its characters, and Kay does a wonderful job of giving them life and making them real. Even the ones I wanted to hate from the beginning, I found myself caring and making excuses for before the end. Not one person in this multi-layered cast is simple and straightforward - they each possess good and bad qualities, just as we all do in the real world, and acts which at first seemed to be evil, cowardly or selfish, revealed underlying motivations that were so real and true that I had to pause and own that I too would have been sorely tempted to follow the same path if I were faced with the same circumstances.
I admit, I'm sometimes a weepy reader. Not just heartbreak, but also joy, loyalty, devotion, etc. can make the tears at least well up, if not flow rather freely. But very few writers have ever made me truly cry. Kay is one of them. This book, as well as the final volume of his Fionavar Tapestry, were at times so heart-wrenching for me that I couldn't see the page or catch my breath. That is how close I had grown to the characters and how strongly their stories moved me.
This makes it into my top 10 pretty easily...(less)