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    Review of IRON COUNCIL by China Mieville

    Del Rey, July 2004

    The myth of the Iron Council has kept hope alive in the city of New Crobuzon. While corrupt political leaders force the city-state into a war without ending, while unemployment mounts and fascist gangs terrorise everyone who doesn't agree with them--and anyone who supports any kind of rights for the non-human or remade humans, dreams of the commune are fired by the story of the Iron Council.

    Once, it was simply a railroad--engineers, bed-layers, builders, engines, cars, whores. But when the wages stopped coming, when the corruption of the railroad's management grew too strong, the workers struck, the whores struck, and finally the remade slaves refused to scab on the human workers and the strike became revolt. The revolt was the beginning of the Iron Council--the train that pulled its rails up behind it as it dragged itself across a continent--to freedom.

    Author China Mieville (see more reviews of novels by Mieville) combines three related stories--that of the revolt that led to the Iron Council, the revolt of the New Crobuzon commune against the corrupt political leadership, and the epic voyage of the Iron Council as it attempts to return to New Crobuzon to join in the uprising. The powerful unifying character of Judah Low, who saw the birth of the Iron Council and helped birth it's return, along with the train itself unite the three strands of the story.

    IRON COUNCIL takes a while to get, uh, rolling. But once Mieville gets on track, he drives the story forward with compelling style and imagery. Mieville combines strong, if occasionally overly-heroic figures with a fully developed and fascinating magic system, compelling images from our own history, and a political slant that is far to the left of center but that stays embedded in the story rather than becoming preachy.

    If you enjoy fantasy, but want to try something different, something with a strong social theme, IRON COUNCIL is definitely worth the investment.

    Four Stars

    Reviewed 9/22/04

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