My rating: 5 of 5 stars
I loved so many aspects of this story. The world-building - a broken-down, dismal place where industry and magic work together and compete with each other - astonished me. This book drips theme. Some readers may find this time spent on the vivid description disconcerting, but not a moment was wasted in my opinion. I loved the constructs, the remades, and the alien aspects of the species.
The characters really took time to grow on me. I instinctively did not like Isaac and Lin repelled me, even though her uniqueness won me over first. Yagharek, I immediately decided was a victim of unfair judgment. Damn those Garuda! How could they do that to him? Clearly with all his bravery in the struggle, he lived up to my expectations. ;-) Damn those Garuda!
I enjoyed Derkhan most of the others, along with that nice fellow who gave Lin that job when she needed a diversion.
I'm not going to comment on the plot, except to say it NEVER felt forced. Everything was in its right place, all the time. The focus on the roles of the principal characters in the story was never lost and by the end of the story I nodded along thinking... yep, this feels right. I kind of wish someone could have repaid Motley for all his generosity.
I did think that the Weaver was a bit of a Deus Ex Machina element, but at the same time, he had enough negatives to keep the balance, so...
As for China Miéville's style, I found it very florid, lush even, with some exotic plants like oneiric &
kukris in the mix, which lend some color. Most often it reads too quickly and you want it to slow down. There are some sections, like when the weaver is introduced that are lovely and yet so chilling. I think that some of this book could be considered more horror than fantasy.
It is a big story and I took a long time to read it, because I was reading 4-5 other books at the same time. That's probably a mistake, but it's a habit. When the story gets its talons in me, I let go of the others, so it's first come first served. I think I finished this 3rd of that bunch (it's not really formal). One reason is that the book is longish. Not knowing the word count, I'd guess about 650 p is 240K words or more, so if you plan to read it in a skein, you better put some hardcore time together.
Anyway, this was a great effort, very enjoyable, and I'm glad I didn't listen to all the people that were so shocked by the gore (like the council construct's avatar). In this book, *that* is not terror. The terror is the overall air of repression which I'm hoping will be explored in the other two of the series.
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