- July 12th, 2005
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I was completely enthralled with this book pretty much from the very first page. The world it is set in, the races, character types and such were familiar. I had previously read Perdido Street Station, and so much of that was already well known to me. However, there was still the same salty air of unfamiliarity that made Perdido special.
The characters are rich, flawed, scarred, remade, emotional and emotionless. For every characterization or trait, there is almost always an opposite force. He’s able to take weaknesses in the human condition, and make them not just fine points of a character, like most authors do, but lynchpins of the story line. And he does it over and over, with almost infinite variety. Naivete, greed, desire, lust, love, passion, curiosity, masochism, pacifism, megalomania … each are strengths in one half the book, and someone else’s downfall in the other.
As with his other books, China’s command of language is phenomenal. I consider myself a seasoned reader of 35 years. Each book of his I read has me going to the dictionary at least a few times to understand a usage I’d never seen before or a new word outright. That sort of challenge is always welcome in my world. But it isn’t just vocabulary … he is able to describe scenes, characters and views in such a way that everything is completely vivid. Without giving anything (completely), the scene on the island of the mosquito-women where they first land is just awesome.
I would recommend reading Perdido before this, even though this book does completely stand on its own. The time spent in the first book describing many of the races and beings you’ll meet is not wasted in this one.
I fully intend to read everything this talented author puts out, and this one in particular is highly recommended. A true genius of this age.