söndag 10 juni 2012


On Arieka, for lifetimes, the last two megahours, our representatives hadn't been twins but doppels, cloned. It was the only viable way. They were bred in twos in the Ambassador-farm, tweaked to accentuate certain psychological qualities. Blood twins had long been outlawed.
Again I am sat in awe by China Miéville's story-telling skills. I had read some pretty poor reviews of Miéville's Embassytown regarding a slow tempo and tedious writing and feared that he had finally proven himself just human. But upon starting the book I quickly fell into the flowing prose that is one of Miéville's trademarks, together of course with his innovative imagination and extensive scientific descriptions, which widen his scope and define his style.
I've read mostly anything and everything that has been put out by China Miéville and make no pretense about him being one of my absolute favorite authors. Perdido Street Station is an absolute epic masterpiece in my mind, and while Embassytown is pretty far from the gritty urban fantasy depicted there, Miéville's genius is still on display with this work.

Embassytown, more science fiction than fantasy, depicts the story of Avice Benner Cho, a young girl growing up in the slum of Embassytown, being a colony of  where humans (as far as we know) live a quiet life far from the hub of the universe and tradelanes. They interact with the local population, Hosts or Ariekei, through ambassadors that have been bred specifically to commune with them through the indescribable language spoken. Miéville does a superb job of setting the scene with detailed history of Embassytown as well as building up the main character Avice through her coming of age.
The story starts off in a slow enough pace but I feel it's more a case of building up the world, the characters and the general atmosphere than a failure to build up suspense.

The theme of Embassytown is a reoccuring one with Miéville. Through a series of events, whether by choice or conincidence, Avice stumbles upon facts that slowly yet inexorably push the story forward. When a new Ambassador (EzRa) arrives in Embassytown, not created within the controlled labs of the city, the previously slow-paced linguistic mystery story is thrown on its back and the pace quickly steps up piece by piece. Avice, our main protagonist, is forced to choose sides in a power struggle that ensues when the impact of EzRa's control of Language wrecks havoc among the Ariekei's previously placid and mostly non-violent culture. In true Miéville-style there are several plot twists that seemingly shifts the focus of, not only the story but the entire focus of the novel when the narrow mystery story morphs into a guerilla-like war for survival in a society that is falling apart. It's been explored in several of Miéville's previous novels, Perdido Street Station, Kraken and The Scar but never in quite the same way and always with different motives.
As usual he manages to tie everything together after we, the readers, have been taken on a roller coaster ride of twists and turns. The conclusion sees a revolution/evolution of the Ariekei's Language and their abilities to communicate with their surroundings as well as a future for Embassytown as something more than a backwater colony-world.

I read through Lavie Tidhar's thoughts on the book and feel they summarize most of what feelings and thoughts I had on the book, as well as nodding heavily towards me trying to get my hands on The City and the City in the near future. Even if Embassytown felt heavier than previous novels in its analytical approach I feel good knowing that China Miéville can keep up his avantgarde approach to writing, still being as innovative as when I first started reading his works, and that I have some of the best still to come.


REMINDS ME OF: Kraken by China Miéville in it's depiction of a small-scale mystery story, even if the motives are different, turned revolutionary detective story turned desperate fight for survival.

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