Iron Council

by China Miéville | Science Fiction & Fantasy |
ISBN: 0330492527 Global Overview for this book
Registered by anathema-device of Graz, Steiermark Austria on 6/25/2009
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5 journalers for this copy...
Journal Entry 1 by anathema-device from Graz, Steiermark Austria on Thursday, June 25, 2009
from Amazon.com:
China Miéville's novel Iron Council is the tumultuous story of the "Perpetual Train." Born from monopolists' greed and dispatched to tame the western lands beyond New Crobuzon, the train is itself the beginnings of an Iron Council formed in the fire of frontier revolt against the railroad's masters. From the wilderness, the legend of Iron Council becomes the spark uniting the oppressed and brings barricades to the streets of faraway New Crobuzon. The sprawling tale is told through the past-and-present eyes of three characters. The first is Cutter, a heartsick subversive who follows his lover, the messianic Judah Low, on a quest to return to the Iron Council hidden in the western wilds. The second is Judah himself, an erstwhile railroad scout who has become the iconic golem-wielding hero of Iron Council's uprising at the end of the tracks. And the third is Ori, a young revolutionary on the streets of New Crobuzon, whose anger leads him into a militant wing of the underground, plotting anarchy and mayhem.

Miéville (The Scar, Perdido Street Station) weaves his epic out of familiar and heavily political themes --imperialism, fascism, conquest, and Marxism --all seen through a darkly cast funhouse mirror wherein even language is distorted and made beautifully grotesque. Improbably evoking Jack London and Victor Hugo, Iron Council is a twisted frontier fable cleverly combined with a powerful parable of Marxist revolution that continues Miéville's macabre remaking of the fantasy genre. (Jeremy Pugh)

MINI-BOOKRING participants:
rockyhorror1978
linguistkris
Feloris
Secundus
Sandwood

(China Miéville seems to be contagious!) ;)


Journal Entry 2 by anathema-device from Graz, Steiermark Austria on Thursday, July 30, 2009
Wow. China Miéville is getting better and better with every book.
So far, I've read Perdido Street Station and The Scar, and now completed the "Bas Lag trilogy" with Iron Council.
I really don't want to post any spoilers here for future readers, but I must say that it was full of suspense (and, as usual, very intriguing characters), and that it showed yet another, not very pleasant, side of New Crobuzon. The ending is more than "just" the expected showdown, and at some points I almost forgot to breathe. ;)
Oh, and something else: I wanted to finish the book on a trip to Germany last weekend, but then forgot to pack it. While I was gone, my cat Neko found it and, well, played a bit roughly with it, I guess. It now looks a bit as if it had been in a fight (and also somewhat pierced), but as Feloris said, maybe that's okay for a steampunk-esque paperback. ;)

ETA: I really liked the short passage in which the conflicting myths about Jack Half-A-Prayer are told. Something that will make the fans of Yagharek smile.

Journal Entry 3 by anathema-device at St. Catharines, Ontario Canada on Thursday, July 30, 2009

Released 10 yrs ago (7/30/2009 UTC) at St. Catharines, Ontario Canada

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Finally, this book is travelling to Canada to visit rockyhorror1978. Enjoy! :)

Journal Entry 4 by rockyhorror1978 from St. Catharines, Ontario Canada on Monday, August 10, 2009
Received today. I'm looking forward to reading the continuing saga of New Crobuzon. Thank you anathema-device for sharing this book with me.

Journal Entry 5 by rockyhorror1978 from St. Catharines, Ontario Canada on Saturday, September 05, 2009
China Mieville continues to demonstrate his incredible talent for writing. As per usual, he reveals details that keep you reading until the end, but does not reveal so much that the plot becomes predictable and boring. The characters were interesting and rich in personality that endeared you to them. The Marxist undertones of the proletariat uprising was a great plot to explore against the backdrop of New Crobuzon. China Mieville returns to the root of science fiction and fantasy by exploring themes that can not be explored in general fiction or actual life. I hope that he continues to write about New Crobuzon and the people that inhibit bas-lag, I hunger for more! :)

Thank you anathema-device for sharing this book with me and granting a wishlist read. I will pass on to linguistkris early next week.

Journal Entry 6 by rockyhorror1978 at Graz, Steiermark Austria on Saturday, September 05, 2009

Released 10 yrs ago (9/7/2009 UTC) at Graz, Steiermark Austria

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Being sent to Linguistkris as part of anathema-device's mini bookring. ENJOY! :)

Journal Entry 7 by winglinguistkriswing from Remscheid, Nordrhein-Westfalen Germany on Thursday, September 24, 2009
Perfect timing -- I just finished The Scar yesterday! :)

This "fan of Yagharek" (as per JE#2) will be delighted to return to Bas-Lag right after the next bookring is finished. :)

(Oh, and the envelope with the built-in brass fastener is pretty nifty! :D)


Journal Entry 8 by winglinguistkriswing from Remscheid, Nordrhein-Westfalen Germany on Tuesday, April 27, 2010
I hate having finished this book. How can there not be another Bas-Lag novel waiting for me? (Well, at least I have the shorts and a few more "Chinas" in general to look forward to, but still...)

Iron Council is an amazing book, all the more so because it does stand up to the magnificence of Perdido Street Station and The Scar while at the same time adding to their richness and being enriched by them, yet remaining completely independent. The perfect trilogy, if ever I read one.

I wonder how much it does betray about myself that I did not find the book horribly communist, leftist or otherwise political; I can only agree with anathema-device (pc) that Miéville does not dabble in either utopia or dystopia but transcends and surpasses those genres by going straight for what appears to me as rather acurate and realistic social commentary.

Miéville is an amazing author on so many levels; not only is the wealth of his imagination and the immensity and complexity of the Bas-Lag universe absolutely baffling, but also do the characters and their actions, from internal monologue to largest-scale social interaction ring absolutely true. By that promise of realism, even the smallest and most exotic minor character still reads like the promise of a story untold rather than the two-dimension cut-out he would seem in any other novel. The most striking, the most unusual feature of Miéville's work must be the language, however; never have I read prose that is simultaneously so rich and complex, -complicated even-, eloquent and verbose, and at the same time so much alive, live-evoking, creative in all senses of the word. There are rich compounds that read like anglo-saxon kenningar, "big words" of latinate heritage and quite a few items pinched from German (which I don't remember from the previous Bas-Lag books); initially, I was slightly alienated by "blitzbaum", which I thought a bit of a rip-off, but items like the grandiose "massenmordist" quickly consoled me.

As for the plot, I think Iron Council probably has the highest body-count of any book I enjoyed to that great degree; usually carnage rather puts me off, but here it only added to the realism and helped convey just how little worth is given to lives, really. The characters I all found believable and likable to a degree; Although Cutter grew an me a lot during his final and most difficult chapters, I didn't sympathise with anyone as much as I used to in the previous books. My impression is that here the characters are generally not as important as the greater processes they bring about, and thus, to some degree read as instrumentalised. And although I am usually the type that very much wants to "identify", I am certainly not complaining.

Journal Entry 9 by feloris from Graz, Steiermark Austria on Saturday, May 15, 2010
I received the book last week...it will have to wait a little until I can take the time to properly enjoy it. :)

Journal Entry 10 by Sandwood at Innsbruck, Tirol Austria on Friday, March 23, 2012
I received the book quite a while ago, given to me by Mr. Secundus.

I was absolutely sure I'd written a journal entry right away, but obviously not. And I never checked back, so I didn't notice it was still un-journalled. Sigh.

To keep this short for now (I'll probably add a proper review later): I really enjoyed the book, especially the bits referring to golems. The golem part gave me quite the d'oh!-moment as well because it was only days after I'd finished reading the book that I realized that the golem maker's name is Judah Low, almost exactly the same as the rabbi's in the traditional "Golem of Prague" legend.
It probably didn't click any earlier because while visually similar, the English word "low" has a totally different meaning than the rabbi's actual name, Löw (or Loew), "lion". But still!

Incidentally I'd read another book with a similar-ish motif only shortly before this one, Inverted World by Christopher Priest. The train that is a city (or almost like a city) in itself, and that travels on and on with the same set of tracks re-used over and over again is an important plot element in both books, even though the novels don't have any real similarities apart from that. At least none that would be obvious.

Journal Entry 11 by Sandwood at BookRing, a fellow bookcrosser -- Controlled Releases on Friday, March 23, 2012

Released 7 yrs ago (3/23/2012 UTC) at BookRing, a fellow bookcrosser -- Controlled Releases

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Aaand back to anathema-device!

I'll bring it to the post office tomorrow, so it should arrive on Monday or Tuesday, don't think it'll take any longer than that.

Journal Entry 12 by anathema-device at Graz, Steiermark Austria on Tuesday, March 27, 2012
Arrived back home, safe and (reasonably) sound. :))

**** Permanent Collection ****

This paperback sure looks as if it has been through a war or two, but that doesn't make me love it any less. Thanks to everyone who participated in this bookring - for sheltering this book and taking care of it, and for sharing your reading experiences.

(BTW, this used to be my favourite book ever - until Embassytown came out. I just might love that one even more. Especially my copy.)

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