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The Scar

(New Crobuzon #2)

4.17  ·  Rating details ·  29,037 ratings  ·  1,802 reviews
Aboard a vast seafaring vessel, a band of prisoners and slaves, their bodies remade into grotesque biological oddities, is being transported to the fledgling colony of Nova Esperium. But the journey is not theirs alone. They are joined by a handful of travelers, each with a reason for fleeing the city. Among them is Bellis Coldwine, a linguist whose services as an interpre ...more
Mass Market Paperback, 578 pages
Published June 29th 2004 by Del Rey (first published April 2002)
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Murf I read The Scar first, before I knew it was part of a series (which I have since completed). It, and all the others, stands alone just fine.
Ira Carter Don't know whether I agree that it's a vast improvement on Perdido Street Station - I think each have their own virtues. I think some could claim The …moreDon't know whether I agree that it's a vast improvement on Perdido Street Station - I think each have their own virtues. I think some could claim The Scar is also overly long, badly structured, and many characters are "unlikeable" but many scenes are very compelling and the is no disputing that Mieville can write.(less)

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Start your review of The Scar (New Crobuzon, #2)
Say goodbye to the festering filth of New Crobuzon! Welcome to a floating pirate city chock-full of mysteries, lies, betrayals, photophobic haemophages, and merciless manipulation.

Now, where do I apply for its citizenship???

A pirate city is every child's dream. Including, apparently, my own inner child, desperately in need of inner babysitter.

Before I say anything else in my review, I want to confess - I absolutely, wholeheartedly loved Armada. I loved its tolerance, its camaraderie, its s
May 25, 2008 rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: weary genre fiction readers, people with big imaginations
Shelves: favorites
It took me two days to get through the last 50 pages of China Miéville's The Scar. Not because I was bored, or because the story was particularly impenetrable, but simply because I did not want the book to be over.

I did finish it, however. And for a good ten minutes after the last sentence I found myself staring into space, stunned and cut adrift and wishing for another 50 pages. When I eventually sat down to begin this review, I realized that I had no idea what made the book so amazing.

And tha
Apr 09, 2014 rated it it was amazing
After reading Kraken, and The City and the City and after Perdido Street Station, it occurred to me that China Mieville was certainly one of our most imaginative and talented new writers and that he was on a short list of authors who were dramatically making new ground in new fantasy. But after reading each, I also decided, knew in fact, that he could do better, that his masterpiece was yet to be written, that as great a talent had been displayed, more, so much more could be expected.

The Scar ma
Mar 25, 2013 rated it it was amazing
So. I have a question for you.

When's the last time you watched vampires go fishing?


Then where the f***ing hell have you been? Seriously!

Okay, so the effort involved is a bit more than even the undead can muster, and a fleet, or no, actually, a whole *nation* of boats has a hard time with this fish story.

Of course, Miéville finally gets to show us how he deals with an epic war scene, interesting treatments of betrayal, kidnapping, Stockholm Syndrome, and extended spycraft, but what's really
Oct 21, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
China Miéville’s “The Scar” is set on the vast floating pirate city of ‘Armada’, among mosquito-people, walking cacti, criminals punished by being surgically ‘Remade,’ and a fine cast of monsters, from the murderous “Grindylow”, to the incomprehensible “Avanc”.

“The Scar” is book 2 in the series known as “New Crobuzon” which is is a fictional city-state created by Mr. Miéville and is located in his fictional world of ‘Bas-Lag’. It is prominently featured in both his “Perdido Street Station” (boo
It's hard to avoid politics, and in particular, Mièville's politics when it comes to Bas-lag. In Mièville's Marxist oriented doctoral thesis, Between Equal Rights: A Marxist Theory of International Law, he argues that international law is fundamentally constituted by the violence of imperialism, which by implication, is driven to a large extent by capitalism.

It's not too hard to work out that New Crobuzon is the theoretical capitalist "bad guy" of Bas-lag with its secret police and under-handed
Feb 07, 2016 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: favourites, fantasy
Wow. Clear an evening, take a day off, do whatever you need to do to carve out some serious reading time because the The Scar is good. Very, very good.

This is the sort of book you put down for a second just to exclaim aloud how good it is, the sort you push on friends and family with evangelical fervor. I stayed up late with this one, suffering in a fug of fatigue at work the next day, yet hanging out for when I could crack the covers and read into the wee hours all over again.

If you've read a
I bow my head in acknowledgement of Miéville's inventiveness. Who else but the Master of Weird would have thought up of anophelii, mosquito men and women? Or of crays, people with the head and torso of a man and the lower half of a crayfish? Or of Armada, a huge floating city made up of boats and ships all tied together? To me, however, it was all just a lot of flashy window dressing. This is all well and good. Clearly there are a lot of people who enjoy that and who find it interesting. I was n ...more
Jun 22, 2011 rated it it was amazing
Scars are funny things. They are traumas long past. They are reminders of people we’ve known and places we’ve been. They are healing; they are memory; they are history. Scars can change us into something brand new; scars can show the world that we’ve been irreparably broken. Scars are full of Possibility.

And so, The Armada: a place where new scars are made and old ones fall away. A massive floating city, cobbled together with stolen and salvaged boats, stolen and salvaged people. Slaves, servant
David Sven
Jul 09, 2014 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fantasy, steampunk
The Scar is Mieville's second book set in his Bas-Lag universe. It's a completely different story to, and as standalone as, the first book, Perdido Street Station.

This book the setting moves from the dank and dirty industrial city state of New Crobuzon featured in the first book, to Armada - a floating pirate city, full of...pirates. A city comprised of a conglomerate of derelict ships chained and roped together and re-purposed into a city both like and unlike any other.

We see some of the same
6.0 stars. On my list of "All Time Favorite" Novels. This is the second China Miéville novel I have read (the other being Perdido Street Station) and both that book and this one are on my all time favorite novel list. This should tell you a lot about how much I think of the authors writing and story-telling ability. In short, he is as good as it gets. The world of "Bas-lag" created by Mieville, of which New Crobuzon is its most famous city, is in my opinion as imaginative and richly detailed a w ...more
Dec 04, 2013 rated it liked it
Shelves: 2015
“For every action, there's an infinity of outcomes."


"Countless trillions are possible, many milliards are likely, millions might be considered probable, several occur as possibilities to us as observers - and one comes true.”

- China Miéville, 'The Scar'

At some point there was an infinite number of possibilitites with this novel, the funky follow-up to Perdido Street Station and book 2 in the Bas-Lag/New Crobuzon trilogy. There are chapters and lines and threads of this novel that contained ama
Mar 25, 2008 rated it it was amazing
I restarted The Scar last night because I needed a dose of Mieville's prose, and was blown away, as I always am, by Mieville's description of place. This time he is describing Bas-Lag's oceans. He captures flavours and temperatures and underwater sounds and the danger inherent in the waters that have no boundaries in a way that is poetry for me. I have heard from other readers that these disconnected, deep descriptions are difficult beginnings for them, that they make it tough to connect early w ...more
Aug 30, 2011 rated it it was amazing
By gods and Jabber! This is one pugnacious thaumaturgical book! (sorry, bad in-joke).

China Miéville an interesting and awe-inspiring author, he writes like an angel but looks like a football hooligan! This is the second of the New Crobuzon series. Why it is not called The Bas-Lag series I have no idea, all of the Scar is set outside the great sprawling city of New Crobuzon, though it is frequently referred to.

As with the amazing Perdido Street Station this book is full of interesting characters
Feb 14, 2015 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: favorites
Brilliant Sequel to "Perdido Street Station". Mieville at His Best

This is a brilliant and amazing novel, one of the best I've read in 2015.

If you like China Miéville (and admittedly, he's not to everyone's taste) and you enjoyed Perdido Street Station and like New Weird science fiction/fantasy, you will love this book.

China Mieville clearly borrows from the long and honorable tradition of British and American novels and plays about strange sea voyages (Robinson Crusoe, Moby-Dick; or, The Whale,
** Update: Since reading this, I have read "The City and The City", which I thought was MUCH better ( and then "Embassytown", which was fantastic ( This review stands as my reaction to reading it, though I now think it probably does Mieville an injustice. **

A very hard book to rate because it is so inconsistent in plot, pace, language and even genre. It could possibly be turned into a good book, but it needs a lot
Feb 27, 2021 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Rating under exceptionally heavy doubt. Some thought is needed on whether to be extremely generous or not.

Full review to come, maybe, at some point.
Ian "Marvin" Graye
Apr 13, 2011 rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: Readers who seek more than Vollmann's vollhumorless paraphrased research notes
Comparative Empathy

All through this work of fantasy, I couldn't help comparing it to William T Vollmann's "The Royal Family" and Angela Carter's "The Infernal Desire Machines of Doctor Hoffman" .

The more you read the work of William T Vollmann, the more you find things lacking. Fortunately, as if by way of compensation, most of these same things are present in the fiction of China Mieville.

Vollmann is touted as the master of empathy, even though his characters rarely show any empathy for
Feb 21, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I'm very glad I read this one, the second in the Bas-Lag series, because the first one was so very weird and wonderful and I did wonder if Miéville would be able to once again excite and enchant me. I'm happy to say, he did it again!

This story focuses on a character called Bellis, who is a refugee from New Crobuzon, trying to escape before the Militia come after her. Bellis is a translator, and she's taken on the ship which is travelling to a far off colony where she hopes to lay low for a few y
Aug 10, 2011 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: sci-fi, my-collection
This is not an easy book to read, and this is also not a “nice” book to read. The ending doesn’t make you feel warm fuzzies that despite hardships and adventure, everyone sails off into the sunset singing gaily. You don’t feel all bubbly and relaxed and entertained. The Princess Bride this is not.

You feel disturbed. You feel upset. You feel compassion. You feel anger. You feel distaste. You feel confused. You feel overwhelmed. And at the conclusion, you feel …... scarred.

Nataliya and Catie hav
Kara Babcock
I'm not sure how I feel about China Miéville.

On one hand, Miéville is a competent writer and, even better, a superb storyteller. The three books of his that I've read (including this one) are good. People tend to gush about his worldbuilding, often at the expense, I think, of talking about everything else that's great about his stories, but they do it because of his obvious skill in this area. Many great fantasy authors create wonderful stories by taking the traditional elements of fantasy and e
Ruby  Tombstone Lives!
When I started this book, I didn't expect to love it in the way that I loved Perdido Street Station. I was right. They are two very different books. Where Perdido.. was one fantastic, magical surprise after another, The Scar has more subtle depths. And for that, I think I love The Scar even more.
Scars are not injuries, Tanner Sack. A scar is a healing. After an injury, a scar is what makes you whole.
In The Scar, Miéville takes the idea of the scar and mines it for every possible metaphor and
ᴥ Irena ᴥ
Oct 05, 2014 rated it it was amazing
These might not be the most coherent thoughts I've written.
I am exhausted. I wasn't allowed to choose one side and stick to it. I kept switching. And I loved it.

The Scar is more adventure than Perdido Street Station and not just because most of it happens on a floating pirate city. There are mysteries, lies and betrayals, spies, monsters, magic, naval battles and so on. It's not even a spoiler; after you read the description of the book, you expect nothing less.

Bellis Coldwine, one of the protag
Jul 24, 2014 rated it really liked it
I love China Miéville. His imagination has no bounds and each book he writes is original. As usual his world building in this book is phenomenal. Who else could have created mosquito people whose men are harmless herbivores while the women (six foot tall but flying just like mosquitoes) crave blood and can suck a human dry in minutes. And then there is the creation called Armada, a floating city formed by attaching hundreds of boats together. I loved his descriptions of how the parks and librari ...more
Jan 23, 2021 rated it it was amazing
Where to even begin - two books in and I'm a complete Mieville convert!

Perdido St Station was so vivid in my mind's eye - when I saw the reviews for The Scar that claimed they liked it more, I thought I'd be the odd one out. But everything I loved in PSS is here, only at sea, with pirates who free the Remade, who not only accept but appreciate their differences. Sure, there's the press-ganging, but compared to the totalitarianism that seems to be the vogue in Bas-Lag, what's a little kidnapping-
Vit Babenco
Mar 19, 2014 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
“My armada – three sheets to set sail, bow in the storm – we’ll die in the water. My armada – nothing but murder. To conquer and blunder, led to the slaughter…” Public Image LtdArmada.
What is impossible on Earth is possible on the distant worlds…
“A mile below the lowest cloud, rock breaches water and the sea begins.
It has been given many names. Each inlet and bay and stream has been classified as if it were discrete. But it is one thing, where borders are absurd. It fills the spaces between
Nov 06, 2015 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This is quite a strange book and it really didn't head in any of the many directions I could have imagined. Mieville's extraordinary world-building is in evidence again, with legions of creatures, aliens, and countries in play.

This one takes place entirely on the ocean, from one ship to a connected flotilla-landmass thing... Okay, clearly I don't have Mieville's way with words. The point is that there is a focus to the things that are under the water, beyond the water, across the water, at the e
May 17, 2012 rated it it was amazing
This violent, pointless voyage has been sopping with blood. I feel thick and sick with it. And that is all: contingent and brutal without meaning. There is nothing to be learnt here. No ecstatic forgetting. There is no redemption in the sea.

Miéville is certainly more focused here than in Perdido Street Station, a streamlined set of characters wrestle with duplicity, inefficient energy policy and the ambiguity of exile. Guile finds a quaint representation, which is always of interest. I loved all
Oct 18, 2015 rated it it was amazing
So far my favorite Miéville's book.

Again main star is one very fascinating city but very different one. New crobuzone is filthy, dream shattering capitalist metropolis, pirate city Armada tries to be opposite. While in Perdido street station he criticizes capitalism in The scar he takes shots at communism and socialism, which I did find bit surprising as Miéville is left wing political activist.
Other than fascinating city this book features multilayered story, well developed characters and crea
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Hugo & Nebula Awa...: New Crobuzon - The Scar 29 23 Mar 14, 2021 10:21AM  
Fantasy Buddy Reads: The Scar [Jun 30, 2018] 54 53 Jul 11, 2018 12:46AM  
Miévillians: * The Scar general spoiler-free discussion 31 69 Jun 30, 2018 09:41PM  
The Scar: Unsatisfied with the ending !?! 20 400 Oct 11, 2017 11:53PM 1 6 Dec 24, 2016 12:40AM  

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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)
  • Iron Council (New Crobuzon, #3)

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“In time, in time they tell me, I'll not feel so bad. I don't want time to heal me. There's a reason I'm like this.
I want time to set me ugly and knotted with loss of you, marking me. I won't smooth you away.
I can't say goodbye.”
“Scars are not injuries, Tanner Sack. A scar is a healing. After injury, a scar is what makes you whole.” 460 likes
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