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This entry is best read only after you've finished the book, or you probably won't understand most of what I'm talking about. Heck, it's just my rambling thoughts; you probably won't understand it all anyway.

Iron Council, for nearly the entire book, did a great job fooling me into thinking it was about a widely-disliked ruler who foolishly led the most powerful nation-state in the world into a devastating, unwinnable war, and about the growing underground rebellion, and about insurrectionists throwing off the yoke of authority to try and make a better life for themselves. But it turned out to be about love, and all that other stuff was a backdrop. Tremendously engaging, but still secondary in the end.

There was the obvious, unreciprocated, painful love of Cutter for Judah, and Judah's love for the Iron Council. But overarching everything was Cutter, Judah, and Ori's love for New Crobuzon — a completely selfless love that, eventually, cost them all their other loves, and Judah and Ori their lives as well.

At the end, I almost felt like Miéville had written himself into a corner and couldn't figure out a good way to get out — the rebellion failed, the Council (effectively) failed, most of the main characters were dead. But then I realized the love story angle, and how everyone's love for New Crobuzon overruled anything else in their lives, and it made sense. This theme runs through Perdido Street Station and The Scar too, in some ways. I think maybe the author is fond of the city he's created.

The idea of an "intervention", which is mentioned throughout the book (and which Miéville explains better than I can), relates (to me) the creation of golems — temporary, controlled beings that extend Judah's power where he can't physically be — to Spiral Jacobs' creation of the haints to allow Tesh to remotely cause the fall of New Crobuzon, and even to Toro's creation/organization of her group of insurrectionists to allow her to gain access to and wreak vengeance upon the judge who wronged her. The Scar was like this, too, with one main idea running through it and driving all the various plots. This is what I think I'm missing when I try to write longer works: some sort of unifying thread running beneath it all, making all the various patterns parallel and echo each other in ways that resonate with the reader.

Now that I think about it, the formation of the Iron Council itself was yet another intervention, taking the one power they had — to keep the train moving — and making a life and community out of it.

China Miéville is a tremendously good writer. Often, when I read books that just blow me away the way his do, I feel disheartened about my own writing afterwards. His works, though, tend to inspire me to work harder, which is a much nicer feeling. I hope someday I can write something that blows me away as much as his stuff does.

Comments

( 2 comments — Leave a comment )
kespernorth
Jul. 7th, 2005 03:36 am (UTC)
Go to a reading if you get the chance -- he's a very good speaker, very interesting and has wonderful dry wit.
jacqui
Jul. 10th, 2005 06:45 am (UTC)
Hi, I just came by to say hello : ) I don't mind spoilers, in fact I like them. I know I won't get around to reading this because I have a HUGE pile of books I have to get through before I can even think of buying another one, darn it. I love, love, love to read, especially anything that someone else has enjoyed. I'd love to read this, oh well.

Big hugs,
Jacqui
( 2 comments — Leave a comment )

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