Admittedly ever-so-slowly (work is quite in the way of me reading anything for fun right now) but have continued my re-education and repentance of my views on Miéville. I didn’t love this as much as Kraken (unsurprisingly… I quite very loved Kraken) but it’s still damn good and still ensures my acceptance of China Miéville being awesome.
The first thing that struck me about The Scar is the fact that the protagonist, Bellis Coldwine, is a linguist. Little things. She is also not in any way a typical fantasy heroine, which is ace. But she does fit in with my expectations of Miéville characterisation (i.e. very little). With Bellis, he tries to make it a Thing… she is explicitly characterised as cold and hard and all that… but it does seem to just be how he writes people. None of the surrounding characters have much emotional depth going on either; both Uther Doul and Silas Fennec are explicitly pointed out as being a bit empty as people. But I’ve covered this point before about Miéville, so there’s little reason to go over it again. This book doesn’t change that, but neither is it a detriment to the outcome of the book as a whole, so it can be ignored.
Actually, thinking about little things, it is the little things that make The Scar excellent. If I had to explain it in really broad terms to someone, it would probably sound like just another fantasy book. You know the sort of thing, another world, has magic, sort of generically past-ish, other creatures than humans what are also sapient, vampires… that kind of thing. But it is in the details that this is made something better. Like Kraken, it is just full of amazing little nuggets of sheer excellence. Kraken as a setting and plot was more conducive to HUGE amounts of that… you could have a tonne of little made up cults and whatnot, and it worked very well, added to the madness and wonder of the whole thing. The Scar is less easy to do that too, but that’s not to say it isn’t there. The different species with whom humans live and interact: all awesome. The little hint of background to the anophelii people: pretty damn cool. The hints of magic never fully resolved and explained: all excellent. But these things have to be worked around a fantasy world setting. A really really well done and cool fantasy world setting. But not something quite as mad and fun as Kraken.
Ok, basically, it’s not Kraken, which is sad. But it’s better than a lot of other things which aren’t Kraken. Which is less sad. I could go into a lot of details about the plot and the setting and how excellent and awesome it is, but it essentially boils down to “Not Kraken; Still Awesome”. And I am lazy.
So lazy, I still haven’t got onto the Hamilton…