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King Rat

3.55  ·  Rating details ·  8,552 ratings  ·  632 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
Paperback, 320 pages
Published October 6th 2000 by Tor Books (first published 1998)
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Average rating 3.55  · 
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Jun 01, 2014 rated it liked it
King Rat was first published by British author China Mieville in 1998, his debut novel.

A reader in the speculative fiction genre will certainly make comparisons to Neil Gaiman’s work Neverwhere published in 1996. The setting, tone, and unsettlingly charismatic underwordliness of the two books are too similar to escape association.

A careful reader will also find similarities with Gaiman’s magnificent American Gods and the somewhat sequel Anansi Boys, but WAIT! American Gods was first published
"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,
Aug 29, 2020 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
One could call this book a grunge fantasy.

In “King Rat” by China Mieville’s character, Saul Garamond, is a restless young Londoner aimlessly adrift,,He is wrongly imprisoned for the murder of his father.
Saul is snatched from the authorities by a mysterious savior named ‘King Rat’, who claims to be both the deposed leader of the rodent army driven out of Hamelin 700 years before and Saul's real father. Raised as a human,

Saul’s mother, was King Rat’s sister. She fled rat-kind, preferring to joi
Ian "Marvin" Graye

Lessons in Rhythm and History

Saul Garamonde is meant to be half-man, half-rat, though quite how his state eventuated defies at least my imagination.

He looks like a human being, but has rat blood coursing through his veins, and soon acquires rat characteristics, such as the ability to climb up brick walls and tall buildings.

His father was a fat (sic) socialist, and once gifted him a copy of Lenin's “What is to Be Done?”

Father and son are estranged, and are frequently overheard arguing w
Paul Sánchez Keighley


Before China became His Chinaness, he wrote King Rat.

I found this book hard to read. It’s just so…grim. And I’m not only referring to the gratuitous gross-outs and gore. It’s something about the overall feel of the book. The way the characters behave towards each other is just awful.

Now don’t get me wrong. I think I liked it. The book is an immersive experience. The descriptions make you live the story through all five senses - for better or for worse, considering it looks like dirt
May 26, 2015 rated it it was ok
I have read quite a few books by China Miéville by now. Some of them I loved and some I really liked but this one I struggled with. It was all so dark and despairing and frequently disgusting. In parts it was also a bit boring. Some credits are due for originality at least for the parts about the rats. The descriptions of London were good and the ending wrapped everything up nicely. Peter's actual identity was a a nice touch too. So just an okay book which I am glad I did not read as my first by ...more
J.K. Grice
Oct 05, 2017 rated it really liked it
Shelves: dark-fantasy
KING RAT was my introduction to China Mieville, and I was hooked by his writing. This was a great premise and a story that's very well told. ...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:

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 bre
Feb 03, 2008 rated it it was ok
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
After reading this book, I:
1. Will never see rats the same way again. I kinda want their superpower, including strong stomach.
2. Will save money to visit London. Gosh darn it, Mieville, stop seducing me with your atmospheric description of London and what might lie beneath/in between the city. I acquiesce.
3. Will try to reduce buying paperback editions since it actually hurts my hand to hold it, even though I am already using a book holder. E-books FTW! Save the environment!

This is Mieville's
Sep 05, 2008 rated it it was amazing
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
Jan 23, 2012 rated it really liked it
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
Full Review:

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
Apr 22, 2014 rated it it was ok
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
Jul 26, 2012 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fantasy
This was the last novel of China Mieville's that I had left to read, which is ironic as it was his first novel. You can tell it is as well, as the book is rather rougher and less polished than his other works.

Yet, for all that, you can get the sense of where the author is heading even at this early point. There is an impression I have that he is searching, almost feeling his way towards his later works here. At each point he almost hesitates, a "how far can I push this" moment, before going ahea
Aug 14, 2007 rated it it was amazing
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
Jan 25, 2010 rated it liked it
Shelves: urban-fantasy
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
[Name Redacted]
Jul 07, 2010 rated it did not like it
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 his wo
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
May 18, 2011 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: fantasy, mythology
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
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
Keith Deininger
Mar 10, 2014 rated it really liked it
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. ...more
Boy Blue
Oct 15, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: sci-fan, phantasia
London as a city offers such a rich tapestry of material for an author to pull from. Having already made the journey into London Below with Neil Gaiman's Neverwhere and witnessed the supernatural side of London through Aaronovitch's Rivers of London it was time for me to see through Mieville's eyes the London we all know is there but just can't see: despite our daily dreams of being initiated into it.

Of those three works King Rat is the grittiest and darkest. It rolls in the filth that a city th
Feb 22, 2012 rated it it was ok
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
Sam Quixote
Dec 21, 2013 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
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
Sep 20, 2016 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: urban-fantasy
The Review Can Also Be Found Here

China Miéville is one of my favourite authors thanks to his excellent work but I am seriously behind on his fiction. I love Un Lun Dun, Perdido Street Station and The City and the City but I’ve never read King Rat before so decided to remedy that when I saw it on the shelf at the library and managed to finish it off over the course of a few days. It’s literally that good, and a compelling urban fantasy that reminded me of the Pied Piper of Hamelin legend and mak
Jun 29, 2008 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fantasy
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
Andrew Tucker
Nov 08, 2019 rated it really liked it
The is the 5th book I have read by Mieville and it was fun to see where it all began. I could see glimpses of his amazing writing style, but this book is definitely not nearly as polished and impactful his future works.

There is significantly more swearing and violence in this book than later books and everyone in this book is SO lonely and dark and depressed. I feel like I need to play with my granddaughter and watch some light comedy after finishing it.

The storyline was great, and I loved the n
Timothy Urges
Dec 10, 2015 rated it liked it
Falsely arrested for murder, Saul Garamond soon realizes his place in the rat world of the London underground.

I am sad to admit that I did not enjoy this book all that much. It's not a bad book but you can tell it is Miéville's first. It was like a love story to London, and Drum and Bass music. If those are topics you have an interest in you will get more enjoyment out of it than I did. There were many scenes with Saul running from one location to the next, with street name after street name, a
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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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