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Iron Council

(New Crobuzon #3)

3.71  ·  Rating details ·  14,131 ratings  ·  965 reviews
Following Perdido Street Station and The Scar, acclaimed author China Miéville returns with his hugely anticipated Del Rey hardcover debut. With a fresh and fantastical band of characters, he carries us back to the decadent squalor of New Crobuzon—this time, decades later.

It is a time of wars and revolutions, conflict and intrigue. New Crobuzon is being ripped apart fr
Paperback, 564 pages
Published July 26th 2005 by Del Rey (first published July 2004)
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Owen Iron Council's story is set roughly two decades after the events in Perdido Street Station and The Scar (themselves both distinct from one another) an…moreIron Council's story is set roughly two decades after the events in Perdido Street Station and The Scar (themselves both distinct from one another) and makes only brief passing references to them. The main thing you may miss out on is descriptive details of the world of Bas-Lag that emerged through the other novels. Having said that, Mieville still gives enough detail throughout Iron Council for it to stand on it's own, so if you want to jump right in then feel free to do so and don't worry about missing anything mission critical.(less)

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Average rating 3.71  · 
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Mar 04, 2016 rated it it was amazing
I've known *about* Mieville for a long time. But I don't know if I've ever read one of his books before. Generally speaking though, people I respect enjoy his books, and that's the best way I know to find new things to read.

Simply said? I really enjoyed it. Strange enough to be wondrous, but not so bizarre that it's nonsensical. Good story. Good use of language. Good characters.

Perhaps more than anything else, I was impressed by the moral ambiguity of the book. And I'm not talking about cheap
Mar 25, 2008 rated it really liked it
Overtly political, teasingly intricate, and deeply intertextual, China Miéville's Iron Council is everything I expect to love in great speculative fiction, and nearly everything I know I love in Miéville's work.

Yet, since its publication, I have only read it once, and I still find myself ranking it third of Miéville's Bas-Lag books. I've been baffled by my restraint with Iron Council. My admiration of Miéville's other books is boundless, bordering on madness, and I haven't understood how a book
Iron Council is China Miéville's most overtly political fiction work, but don't pigeonhole it.

Between the revolutionary fervor, fantasy, trains, and Western-like parts runs a common theme of love and the painful, desperate, doomed human longing.

I loved this book. It was not the insta-love like it was with "The Scar" but a long, careful, slow-to-build-up affair that by the end of the story fully blossomed. This book is fascinating, passionate, brutal at times, thought-provoking and deliberately
Jun 22, 2014 rated it liked it
Dear China,

It’s not you, it’s me.

I wanted to like Iron Council more, and there were parts of it I really did like, but the old magic was just not there.

I remember first meeting you on the pages of Kraken, and your fantastic images, scenes and people made me want to spend more time with you.

Then we spent some time together stepping in between Besźel and Ul Qoma and I realized the depth and virtuosity was more than a flash in the pan, you were on to some heady stuff, THE NEW WEIRD. I was hooked.

Feb 17, 2015 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition

I gave this four stars, but I also gave Mieville's "The Scar" four stars.

But they aren't equal. (This highlights the difficulty with the Goodreads rating system).

"The Scar" probably deserved a 4.5 (nearly perfect), where this rates more like a 3.5.

This is the third book in the New Crobuzon/Bas Lag series.

The first two were "Perdido Street Station" and "The Scar".

"The Iron Council" takes place in the same universe but many years later, in the nineteenth century (where the earlier two books were i
Apr 02, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Full review to come at some point in future hopefully.

For now like the rest of the series, combination of very weird but very well written steampunk and real world politics with ambiguous sides and no truly right answer.
Jul 03, 2013 rated it liked it
I love the first two Bas-Lag books but it took me ages to get around to this third volume due to the relatively high number of less than enthusiastic reviews on Goodreads and elsewhere. Yes, I can be swayed by reviews if the consensus opinion leans towards the negative. At the end of the day though I could not resist picking this book up as it is the last Bas-Lag volume for the foreseeable future (Miéville may come back to it but he seems to have no plan to do so at the moment). Another thing in ...more
Iron Council, Mieville's most political work of fiction explores Marxist philosophy and views history through the lens of materialism. It concretizes the concept of revolution by setting it on the filthy, war-torn, destructive grounds of New Crobuzon.

With its many species, remades, renegade freemades, the militia and the parliament, New Crobuzon is immersed in economic inequalities, species and class based oppressions, police brutality, war, elitism and crime. Its numerous factions are constantl
We live in a culture that desires fragmented stories; stories that are told quickly and compellingly, so we can move on to the next tale. It is why we love visual forms so much. It is why YA fiction is increasingly popular with older crowds. It is why graphic novels are on the rise as a literary form. But where are the novellas? Where are books like One Day in the Life of Ivan Denisovich, The Old Man and the Sea, Heart of Darkness, The Awakening, A Clockwork Orange?

I have been looking, waiting,
Kara Babcock
Recall in my review of The Scar how I was whining about my opinion of China Miéville and his novels remaining relatively constant? How I wanted to read something different, something I could say didn't rank equally with the other three novels by him that I have read?

This is the story of why I should have been more careful with my wishing.

I knew something was wrong—perhaps I should say off—almost from the beginning of this book. The opening was grandiose in Miéville's usual style (which, if you'v
Ian "Marvin" Graye
To the Riverskin Station

Like Tsarist Russia in 1917, New Crobuzon is at war with a neighbouring city-state, Tesh. As in St Petersburg, the local insurrectionists, a random collective of variegated runaways (the Collectivists), seize the opportunity to stage a revolutionary overthrow of the oppressive Urban Unity Government. Meanwhile, the Iron Council (which might be analogous to the Central Committee of the Communist/Bolshevik Party) learns of these events and decides, like Lenin, to return fro
So, here we are in Bas Lag again. According to interviews, Mieville sounds like he has every intention of returning to the world of Bas Lag in the future, so I won't refer to this as "the last Bas Lag novel." But, as of 2009, it's the most recent.

I found the experience of reading Iron Council markedly different from the first two books set in this world. For one, in this book the story isn't as localised. We have met the city of New Crobuzon in Perdido Street Station and the pirate collective of
I wanted very much to like Iron Council, considering how much I was drawn into the worlds of Perdido Street Station and The Scar, but despite my best efforts, I couldn't do it. Without question, it's my least favorite of Mieville's three Bas-Lag books, and I am conceding defeat at page 287. Judging from many of the positive (though qualified) reviews of other GR readers, the story is difficult but rewarding, but I think if I don't care what happens by the mid-way point, then it's not going to ha ...more
Jan 14, 2012 rated it really liked it
A beautiful novel, perhaps the best speculative fiction that I've read, but likewise certainly enriched by reference to its close companion text, The Scar, which parallels it in important ways, as well as to Perdido Street Station, which introduces its setting.

As in The Scar, the narrative here involves a group of outcasts who travel on a more or less traditional quest to find something in particular. Both books involve a renegade, mobile city that interacts weirdly with a bizarre breach in the
Oct 02, 2018 rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: the rebels out there
I don't think I'll ever read a trilogy like New Crobuzon (NC) again. It is hard to pinpoint what I felt when reading the book, but it surely an overwhelming mix of emotions. Iron Council to me is the most emotional of them all. Maybe, because of the point of views of its characters. Perdido Street Station (PDS) was NC seen from the eyes of the elite, the scientist and the artist, the mob boss and the privileged. In The Scar, there was a shift to the vagrants, pirates, the runaways with unseen ye ...more
Aug 01, 2007 rated it it was amazing
Enough imagination for eighty favorite of Mieville's anti-trilogy for some reason...seems like you walked into a Bosch painting for most of the book.The most dismissed of Mieville’s books maybe because the first hundred pages are a little confusing and the structure strains a little bit more than usual. While all his books have flaws his enormous imagination and stunning vocabulary (rivaling Wolfe and McCarthy) pave over any hesitations I have. This one focuses on a tragic and costly c ...more
Jul 09, 2008 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: radical-politics
Wow, what a rich novel! China Mieville does with fantasy what I love about radical science fiction: sets a revolution in an imagined world to create an engaging, complex, deep story and character and speak to the real world, the present. I highly recommend the Iron Council to folks who like feminist/leftist science fiction that want to read a fantasy novel that doesn't celebrate the aristocracy. Iron Council is a novel about class struggle and the people in it, and it happens to be fantasy.

I'm d
Liam || Books 'n Beards
Certainly the weakest of the Bas-Lag novels, although in some ways it was probably the most creative. I enjoyed Iron Council enough not to give up halfway through, though were it written by anyone else I probably would have.

As per usual, China Mieville's incredible creativity and world-building were in full force, exploring the wide world of the continent of Rohagi, from New Crobuzon to Myrshock to the Torque-spewing Cacotopic Stain. Endless neat new beasts and characters on display, and the nea
Jun 16, 2008 rated it liked it
Recommends it for: people who like Bas Lag
Shelves: fantasy, fiction, uk
After reading this, the last of Mieville's trio of Bas Lag novels, I have to say I was a bit disappointed. Iron Council is definitely my least favorite of the three, despite (or perhaps because of) being the most overtly political. Perhaps because of the focus on revolution, I felt the characters of this novel were much less interesting than the previous two. Unlike Isaac or Bellis, I never really connected with or identified with Cutter, Ori, Ann Hari, or any other person or felt drawn into the ...more
Althea Ann
I had eagerly anticipated reading Mieville's latest - but while I certainly enjoyed returning to the world of New Crobuzon, I have to admit that I did not like this book nearly as much as either 'The Scar' or 'Perdido Street Station.' Of course, I love both of those books, so my expectations for this one were very high. Still, I felt that the concepts in this book overwhelmed the story - the characters and events were secondary to Mieville's thoughts about repressive societies, social economics, ...more
May 25, 2009 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This book was fantastic. I picked it up with some hesitation because of reviews I'd read, which said that Iron Council was "the weakest" of the series, that the plot and setting were a far cry from the complex, violently magical and Victorian-inspired backdrops of the previous two books. Other reviews simply said the book was too slow.

And to some extent it is all true. Iron Council takes the reader much farther from the brilliant magics, sciences, and mythologies depicted in Perdido Street Stati
2.5 Stars

I really wanted to love this, but somehow I just didn't.
Just like Miéville's first two entrys in this series, this book takes place in New Crobuzon and centers around a certain group of characters. The characters are weird but likeable and diverse, what I really appreciate and the story is interesting (but less so than in the first two books). Still, the world building is the thing I enjoy the most: New Corbuzon and all of its crazy inhabitants and bizarre creatures feel alive while re
Jun 25, 2007 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
[after second reading]
Yeah, I'm sticking with the two stars. Is it about preserving history? Is it about the inaccuracy of monuments? Is it about the sources of inspiration being stronger for what they inspire than for their truth? I'm not sure, and I don't care.

As other reviewers have said, the reason Iron Council is less satisfying that Perdido Street Station or The Scar is because it's mostly endless description of conflicts and fights and there's very little character development. Ultimately
Arun Divakar
Jun 07, 2011 rated it it was ok
There are quite a lot of wordings swirling inside my head now. Words like 'Power' , 'Revolution', 'Government' and so on. I am stuck with putting them down into coherent sentences. This was the outcome of the book for me : a muddled mind.

The landscape of New Crobuzon is not unfamiliar to me thanks to Perdido Street Station.I still count that as one of the best books ever. But where the first book was one that cut across genres, here the tone is overtly political. There is a tone of an impending
Sep 06, 2007 rated it it was ok
Recommends it for: pretentious marxists
Shelves: fictive
I absolutely raced through Mieville's previous efforts, but this one was a slog. There were too many battles for my taste, and the characters had no depth whatsoever. Instead of trying to create depth, Mieville just repeats the same information over and over. Cutter loves Judah. Oh he loves him so much. Judah is unable to love, or is just priest-like. Why should I care? I never managed to care through the whole almost-600 pages. He also commits the literary crime of describing other fantasy race ...more
Megan Baxter
Jun 01, 2016 rated it really liked it
Iron Council is one of those books that you don't so much read as tussle with. It's an adventure, a quest, and I often feel like there are underlying themes deeper than the obvious ones, ones that make me wish Perdido Street Station, in particular, was more recent in my memory. I feel that the three New Crobuzon books I've read hang together as a commentary about revolution and rebellion.

Note: The rest of this review has been withheld due to the changes in Goodreads policy and enforcement. You
Jul 26, 2016 rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: Collectivists and linguaphiles, but not neophytes
Recommended to Alan by: Olivia; both previous and subsequent work
I do consider Iron Council amazing, but I wouldn't recommend starting your exploration of China Miéville's oeuvre with it. I left this one lying around for a long time before picking it up myself, in fact. I'm not sure why... perhaps I was just holding it in reserve. The pleasure of anticipation is also a thrill, after all, and while Miéville writes relatively quickly, that's still not as quickly as I can read his books.

Perhaps you're already familiar with Mervyn Peake's Gormenghast, that immens
Mar 29, 2015 rated it liked it
The earthy Miéville, the more subdued of the Bas Lag universe... until the final climax when he sticks it to the critical world and goes all Perdido on our asses, ostentatiously. That's what we get for making fun of his words. He don't need no rules. The resistance must go on. Struggle golem. ...more
M. Jones
Oct 27, 2019 rated it really liked it
My rating is somewhere in the cacotopic zone between 3.5 and 4, but I'm not sure it shouldn't be 4.5, such are the arcane (and sometimes frustrating) powers of China Miéville.
This book has some wonderful sections (view spoiler), some fantastic ideas, as ever with China Miéville, and recounts a gripping tale of oppression and revolution in that most arcane of cities, New Crobuzon. The
Jun 01, 2011 rated it liked it
Looking back from "Embassytown" and "The City and the City," I can see some of the same maturity that Mieville brought to these later works in "Iron Council." This is the strongest Bas-Lag book he has written in terms of structure and, especially, the close of the story. The conceit behind the eponymous Council is far-fetched--even in Mieville's crazy world--but Mieville pulls it off with his usual talent for language, description, and the evocation of something otherworldly and yet still ground ...more
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Hugo & Nebula Awa...: New Crobuzon - Iron Council 18 20 Mar 31, 2021 10:24PM  
Fantasy Buddy Reads: Iron Council [Aug 26, 2018] 24 30 Oct 02, 2018 11:16PM  
You'll love this ...: Iron Council 14 32 Mar 10, 2015 10:33AM  
Miévillians: IC spoiler thread 4: Anamnesis: The Perpetual Train 71 35 May 16, 2014 07:49AM  
Miévillians: IC spoiler thread 3: Chapter 10 to end of Chapter 13 63 25 May 10, 2014 04:04PM  

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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

Other books in the series

New Crobuzon (3 books)
  • Perdido Street Station (New Crobuzon, #1)
  • The Scar (New Crobuzon, #2)

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