Iron Council by China MiévilleIron Council by China Miéville

Iron Council

byChina Miéville

Paperback | July 26, 2005

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Following Perdido Street Station and The Scar, acclaimed author China Miéville returns with his hugely anticipated Del Rey hardcover debut. With a fresh and fantastical band of characters, he carries us back to the decadent squalor of New Crobuzon—this time, decades later.

It is a time of wars and revolutions, conflict and intrigue. New Crobuzon is being ripped apart from without and within. War with the shadowy city-state of Tesh and rioting on the streets at home are pushing the teeming city to the brink. A mysterious masked figure spurs strange rebellion, while treachery and violence incubate in unexpected places.
In desperation, a small group of renegades escapes from the city and crosses strange and alien continents in the search for a lost hope.
In the blood and violence of New Crobuzon’s most dangerous hour, there are whispers. It is the time of the iron council. . . .

The bold originality that broke Miéville out as a new force of the genre is here once more in Iron Council: the voluminous, lyrical novel that is destined to seal his reputation as perhaps the edgiest mythmaker of the day.
China Miéville was born in 1972. He is the author of King Rat, which was nominated for an International Horror Guild Award and the Bram Stoker Prize; Perdido Street Station, which won the Arthur C. Clarke Award and the British Fantasy Award; and The Scar, which won the Locus Award and the British Fantasy Award, and was a finalist for t...
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Title:Iron CouncilFormat:PaperbackDimensions:576 pages, 9.2 × 6.2 × 1.3 inPublished:July 26, 2005Publisher:Random House Publishing GroupLanguage:English

The following ISBNs are associated with this title:

ISBN - 10:0345458427

ISBN - 13:9780345458421

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Reviews

Rated 5 out of 5 by from The greatest fantasist of our time! Currently, there is no single author that can create a believable world like Mr. Mieville. His style is somewhere between Charles DIckens and H.G Wells - a Victorian milieu with handfuls of esoteric science and steampunk thrown in. If you like your fantasy riddled with eldritch machinery and bizarre half-human chimeras, you will adore this writer. His work is very intense and multilayered, similar to Tim Powers in some respects. This story concerns New Crobuzon, a city in the far future when most of our technology has been forgotten and replaced with a bizarre amalgam of steam and magic. Although this is the last novel of three concerning this world, it stands alone in terms of plot. I enjoyed this book immensely and the only criticism is that it did not quite measure up to the first two (Perdido Street Station and The Scar being simply too great to duplicate). Buy it and read it.
Date published: 2009-04-06
Rated 4 out of 5 by from Brilliant but... Overtly political, teasingly intricate, and deeply intertextual, China Miéville's Iron Council is everything I expect to love in great speculative fiction, and nearly everything I know I love in Miéville's work. Yet, since its publication, I have only read it once, and I still find myself ranking it third of Miéville's Bas-Lag books. I've been baffled by my restraint with Iron Council. My admiration of Miéville's other books is boundless, bordering on madness, and I haven't understood how a book so filled with wonders -- Toro and its teleportation headdress, Judah's time-golem, the Iron Council train and its unparalleled mobility, Spiral Jacob and his Teshian machinations to overthrow New Crobuzon -- could keep me at such a distance -- until today. Today I recognized my problem with Iron Council (I am making my way through The Scar for the fourth time, you see, and it finally came clear). There is a character missing, a character that is fundamental to my admiration of Miéville's work. I can still appreciate him without this character; I can luxuriate in his gorgeous prose without this character; I can even lose myself in Bas-Lag without this character; but it is this character that makes Perdido Street Station and The Scar such fundamental books in my speculative fiction pantheon. And that character is place. Perdido Street Station introduces us to New Crobuzon. And New Crobuzon becomes a character, not just a setting. It is not just the people who are being ravaged by the Slake Moths, but the sweltering, desert dryness of the Glasshouse, the shadows of the Ribs, the gardens of Sobek Croix, and the refuse of Griss Twist. These boroughs, bestowed with sensual reality, suffer as much from the literal "dreamsh*t" as the people who lose their minds do. And Miéville spends time making us know New Crobuzon. He lingers in every borough, makes us smell and taste and feel everything. It's his intention, and it makes New Crobuzon, perhaps, the most important character in Perdido Street Station. The Scar, then, gives us Armada. Another character setting. Another unruly, sensually realistic, passionately crafted city, this time floating over the oceans of Bas-Lag, a giant Pirate vessel with its own internal politics, its own "quarters," its own industry, its own secrets and identity, all tethered loosely together as each ship is tethered to each ship in a technicolor mosaic of shipbuilding eclecticism. But Iron Council gives us the world, and it is too much. Miéville offers too many places in his third book, and he never allows us to know one place with anything close to the depth or intimacy we come to know New Crobuzon and Armada. There are wonders, yes, but they are too scattered, too sparsely drawn, too quickly passed over and through for them to percolate into our imaginations. And that is why Iron Council fails to live up to its predecessors (although I consider that higher praise than I would give most books). Place is important to Miéville. It is not a coincidence that that all his Bas-Lag books have, thus far, been titled after places. And he doesn't just love places, Miéville loves cities and expresses cities, stationary or floating, better than any author I've read, so his next book, The City & The City, should be a cracking return to what Miéville does best. Not that Iron Council isn't brilliant, but still....
Date published: 2009-03-23
Rated 5 out of 5 by from *Rave Review* A friend lent me this book a year and a half ago, and since completing it, it has been at the top of my favourites list. Never have I read a book as good as this one, and that is saying a fair bit. The language is wonderful, the setting is shockingly imaginative, and the characters are every bit as alive as you are. When I finished this book, I curled up in bed and cried. I actually cried. This book will engulf you; it is not something you merely read as something that you inhale. And it eats you. From the inside, it just devours you. Cutter, Judah, Ann-Hari. You will never forget them. As much as I love this book, I have to issue warning; it is not for everyone. It is edgy, punishing, dark and twisted. Those who like to read about sunny days with your sister and iced tea should not pick this up. Those who like to have their minds played with like a yo-yo, here. Read. This. Book. I must borrow the words of another when it comes to speaking of China Mieville because I can't think of a way to phrase it any better. "Formidably brilliant". How many authors today can boast such a title?
Date published: 2006-05-13

Read from the Book

Chapter OneA man runs. Pushes through thin bark-and-leaf walls, through the purposeless rooms of Rudewood. The trees crowd him. This far in the forest there are aboriginal noises. The canopy rocks. The man is heavy-burdened, and sweated by the unseen sun. He is trying to follow a trail. Just before dark he found his place. Dim hotchi paths led him to a basin ringed by roots and stone-packed soil. Trees gave out. The earth was tramped down and stained with scorching and blood. The man spread out his pack and blanket, a few books and clothes. He laid down something well-wrapped and heavy among loam and centipedes.Rudewood was cold. The man built a fire, and with it so close the darkness shut him quite out, but he stared into it as if he might see something emergent. Things came close. There were constant bits of sound like the bronchial call of a nightbird or the breath and shucking of some unseen predator. The man was wary. He had pistol and rifle, and one at least was always in his hand.By flamelight he saw hours pass. Sleep took him and led him away again in little gusts. Each time he woke he breathed as if coming out of water. He was stricken. Sadness and anger went across his face.“I’ll come find you,” he said.He did not notice the moment of dawn, only that time skidded again and he could see the edges of the clearing. He moved like he was made of twigs, as if he had stored up the night’s damp cold. Chewing on dry meat, he listened to the forest’s shuffling and paced the dirt depression.When finally he heard voices he flattened against the bank and looked out between the trunks. Three people approached on the paths of leaf-mould and forest debris. The man watched them, his rifle steadied. When they trudged into thicker shanks of light, he saw them clearly and let his rifle fall.“Here,” he shouted. They dropped foolishly and looked for him. He raised his hand above the earth rise.They were a woman and two men, dressed in clothes more ill-suited to Rudewood than his own. They stood before him in the arena and smiled. “Cutter.” They gripped arms and slapped his back.“I heard you for yards. What if you was followed? Who else is coming?”They did not know. “We got your message,” the smaller man said. He spoke fast and looked about him. “I went and seen. We were arguing. The others were saying, you know, we should stay. You know what they said.”“Yeah, Drey. Said I’m mad.”“Not you.”They did not look at him. The woman sat, her skirt filling with air. She was breathing fast with anxiety. She bit her nails.“Thank you. For coming.” They nodded or shook Cutter’s gratitude off: it sounded strange to him, and he was sure to them too. He tried not to make it sound like his sardonic norm. “It means a lot.” * * * They waited in the sunken ground, scratched motifs in the earth or carved figures from dead wood. There was too much to say.“So they told you not to come?”The woman, Elsie, told him no, not so much, not in those words, but the Caucus had been dismissive of Cutter’s call. She looked up at him and down quickly as she spoke. He nodded, and did not criticise.“Are you sure about this?” he said, and would not accept their desultory nods. “Godsdammit are you sure? Turn your back on the Caucus? You ready to do that? For him? It’s a long way we’ve got to go.”“We already come miles in Rudewood,” said Pomeroy.“There’s hundreds more. Hundreds. It’ll be bastard hard. A long time. I can’t swear we’ll come back.”I can’t swear we’ll come back.Pomeroy said, “Only tell me again your message was true. Tell me again he’s gone, and where he’s gone and what for. Tell me that’s true.” The big man glowered and waited, and at Cutter’s brief nod and closed eyes, he said, “Well then.” Others arrived then. First another woman, Ihona; and then as they welcomed her they heard stick-litter being destroyed in heavy leaps, and a vodyanoi came through the brush. He squatted in the froggish way of his race and raised webbed hands. When he jumped from the bank, his body—head and trunk all one fat sac—rippled with impact. Fejhechrillen was besmirched and tired, his motion ill-suited to woodland.They were anxious, not knowing how long they should wait, if any others would come. Cutter kept asking how they had heard his message. He made them unhappy. They did not want to consider their decision to join him: they knew there were many who would think it a betrayal.“He’ll be grateful,” Cutter said. “He’s a funny bugger and might be he’ll not show it, but this’ll mean a lot, to me and to him.”After silence Elsie said: “You don’t know that. He didn’t ask us, Cutter. He just got some message, you said. He might be angry that we’ve come.”Cutter could not tell her she was wrong. Instead he said: “I don’t see you leaving, though. We’re here for us, maybe, as well as for him.”He began to tell them what might be ahead, emphasising dangers. It seemed as if he wanted to dissuade them though they knew he did not. Drey argued with him in a rapid and nervy voice. He assured Cutter they understood. Cutter saw him persuading himself, and was silent. Drey said repeatedly that his mind was made up.“We best move,” said Elsie, when noon went. “We can’t wait forever. Anyone else is coming, they’ve obviously got lost. They’ll have to go back to the Caucus, do what’s needed in the city.” Someone gave a little cry and the company turned.At the hollow’s edge a hotchi rider was watching them, astride his gallus. The big war-cockerel plumped its breastfeathers and raised one spurred claw-foot in curious pose. The hotchi, squat and tough hedgehog man, stroked his mount’s red comb.“Militia coming.” His accent was strong and snarling. “Two men militia coming, a minute, two.” He sat forward in the ornate saddle and turned his bird around. With very little sound, with no metal to jangle on wood-and-leather straps and stirrups, it picked away high-clawed and belligerent, and was hidden by the forest.“Was that—?” “What—?” “Did you fucking—?”But Cutter and his companions were shushed by the sound of approach. They looked in unsaid panic, too late to hide.Two men came stepping over fungused stumps into view. They were masked and uniformed in the militia’s dark grey. Each had a mirrored shield and ungainly pepperpot revolver slack at his side. As they came into the clearing they faltered and were still, taking in the men and women waiting for them.There was a dragged-out second when no one moved, when befuddled and silent conference was held—are you, are they, what, should we, should we—?—till someone shot. Then there were a spate of sounds, screams and the percussion of shots. People fell. Cutter could not follow who was where and was gut-terrified that he had been hit and not yet felt it. When the guns’ heinous syncopation stopped, he unclenched his jaw.Someone was calling Oh gods oh fucking gods. It was a militiaman, sitting bleeding from a belly-wound beside his dead friend and trying to hold his heavy pistol up. Cutter heard the curt torn-cloth sound of archery and the militia man lay back with an arrow in him and stopped his noise.Again a beat of silence then “Jabber—” “Are you, is everyone—?” “Drey? Pomeroy?”First Cutter thought none of his own were hit. Then he saw how Drey was white and held his shoulder, and that blood dyed his palsying hands.“Sweet Jabber, man.” Cutter made Drey sit (Is it all right? the little man kept saying.) Bullet had taken muscle. Cutter tore strips from Drey’s shirt, and wound those cleanest around the hole. The pain made Drey fight, and Pomeroy and Fejh had to hold him. They gave him a thumb-thick branch to bite while they bandaged him.“They must’ve fucking followed you, you halfwit bastards.” Cutter was raging while he worked. “I told you to be fucking careful—”“We were,” Pomeroy shouted, jabbing his finger at Cutter.“Didn’t follow them.” The hotchi reappeared, its rooster picking. “Them patrol the pits. You been here long time, a day nearly.” It dismounted and walked the rim of the arena. “You been too long.”It showed the teeth in its snout in some opaque expression. Lower than Cutter’s chest but rotundly muscular, it strutted like a bigger man. By the militia it stopped and sniffed. It sat up the one killed by its arrow and began to push the missile through the body.“When them don’t come back, them send more,” it said. “Them come after you. Maybe now.” It steered the arrow past bones through the dead chest. It gripped the shaft when it came out the corpse’s back, and pulled the fletch through with a wet sound. The hotchi tucked it bloody into his belt, picked the revolving pistol from the militiaman’s stiffening fingers and fired it against the hole.Birds rose up again at the shot. The hotchi snarled with the unfamiliar recoil and shook its hand. The arrow’s fingerthick burrow had become a cavity.Pomeroy said: “Godspit . . . who in hell are you?”“Hotchi man. Cock-fighting man. Alectryomach. Help you.”“Your tribe . . .” said Cutter. “They’re with us? On our side? Some of the hotchi are with the Caucus,” he said to the others. “That’s why this place’s all right. Or was supposed to be. This lad’s clan got no time for the militia. Give us passage. But . . . can’t risk a real fight with the city, so they’ve to make it look like it was us killed the officers, not their arrows.” He understood as he said it.Pomeroy and the hotchi rifled the killed men together. Pomeroy threw one of the pepperpot revolvers to Elsie, one to Cutter. It was modernistic and expensive and Cutter had never held one before. It was heavy, with its six barrels arranged in a fat rotating cylinder.“They ain’t reliable,” said Pomeroy, harvesting bullets. “Fast, though.”“Jabber . . . we better fucking go.” Drey’s voice went up and down with pain. “Fucking guns going off going to call them for miles . . .”“Not so many nearby,” said the hotchi. “Maybe none to hear. But you should gone, yes. What you for? Why leave city? You looking for him come by on the clay man?”Cutter looked to the others and they watched him carefully, letting him speak.He said: “You seen him?” He stepped toward the busy hotchi. “You seen him?”

Editorial Reviews

“Miéville moves effortlessly into the first division of those who use the tools and weapons of the fantastic to define and create the fiction of the coming century.”
—NEIL GAIMAN

“Continuously fascinating . . . Miéville creates a world of outrageous inventiveness.”
The Denver Post