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    Review of THE SCAR by China Mieville

    Del Rey, July 2002

    It seemed like a straightforward enough plan. To flee a criminal/magical investigation in New Crobuzon, Bellis Coldwine takes a job as a translator on a ship destined toward the colony continent. In a few years, when the heat dies down, she'll return and get on with her life. Bellis doesn't count on being captured by a floating pirate city--Armada. But being on Armada, cut off from her own land, is not the worst of Bellis's problems. The rulers of Armada have set themselves a mission--to trap a huge underwater creature large enough to pull the entire city--and to explore the torn parts of the world--where probabilities and possibilities can be mined, tuned, and used.

    Second only to the two lovers who rule most of Armada, Uther Doul dominates the pirate city and the entire novel. Doul has trained himself as a martial artist, but is armed with a sword that he calls a possibility blade--it is simultaneously capable of exploring all of the possibilities open to a sword, and killing with each of these possibilities. Yet Doul's own motivations remain unclear, unknowable. Between Doul and New Crobuzon spy Simon Fench, Bellis is manipulated, fooled into actions she never would have taken on her own, and nearly destroyed. Yet Bellis continus to strive for her hopeless eventual return to New Crobuzon.

    Author China Mieville excells at world building. The magical system, the rich history of this world, and the city of Armada itself dominate the story and keep the reader involved, anxious for more. Meiville's writing style is strong, descriptive and intellectual. Although the plot itself is flawed--we never really understand the basic motivations that drive Doul, the critical actor in the entire novel--I found myself nevertheless entranced by the novel.

    See more reviews of novels by Mieville.

    Four Stars

    Reviewed 9/04/02

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