I too very much enjoyed this book. Mieville as a great way of building scenes and his vivid imagination just shines out of this book.knivesout said:Heh, here I am. I have indeed read Mieville's debut, King Rat. I like it quite a bit - it doesn't have the scope and fecundity of the Bas-Lag books, but it shows Mieville working his muse in a different setting - modern-day London, and is a valuable indication of his breadth as a writer, I think.
I love reading books with a strong sense of an urban environment or environments - whether it's a purely imaginary metropolis, like Harisson's Viriconium, or a series of deftly sketched and imaginary cities, as in Calvino's Invisible Cities, or a real world city as in Moorcock's London novels. Like the last, this book takes London itself as its setting, and then unleashes the weird into that context.
It draws from popular folklore, parlaying the story of the Pied Piper into a strange tale of hybrid animal/humans, a plot by the King Rat and other animal Kings to finally have vengeance on the Pied Piper, a direly clever plan by the Piper to enslave the people of London with his music and in the midst of it all, the perils of one young man, half-human son of the King Rat struggling to come to grips with his own identity and cease being a pawn in this game.
The rhythms of drum-n-bass music run through this work, as do a deeply convincing picture of the grimier sides of city life, the cheap takeaway noodle meals, the beggars and tramps, and most of all the sewers. Mieville literally drags us through the London sewage system in this book, so it may not be one for the weak-stomached!
As with any Mieville book, some of his inventions won't sit well with everyone- I myself found the notion of a rat-human hybrid a bit hard to swallow, but once you decide to suspend disbelief, there's a great story here, that works well on the level of characterisation as well.
I love the epilogue, with the young man's admonition to the rats of London to 'put the rat back in fraternity'. Really cracked me up.
Mieville has stated that he may write more works in a real-world setting in the future. That certainly seems like a good idea, on the strength of King Rat.
Ainulindale said:I think King Rat displays a touch of what is to come from Mieville's later works. We see the incredible imagination, and see examples what will become one of most distinct and perhaps peerless prose in the genre. II actually read his short, the Tain (if you missed this buy the Cities anthology that it included along with works by Paul di Phillipo and Geoff Ryman, Peter Crowther). A terrific story.
A nice spin on the Pied Piper of Hamelin myth, definately a sign of things to come, but I think it's defintely his weakest effort (whcih means it's better than 80% of the genre)
Don't forget to check out his wonderful Perdido Street Station, The Scar and Iron Council where he really comes into his own plus the brilliant short story collection Looking For Jake......Adasunshine said:I just started reading this a couple of days ago and am thoroughly enjoying it! I love the London setting, takes me back to my working days, the intro (with the trains), especially brought some memories back.
Glad to hear it ADA. If you like Mieville's other work and enjoy imagined Urban settings then you could do worse than take the advice of an esteemed friend of mine Knivesout and further check out M. John Harisson's Viriconium and Italo Calvino's Invisible Cities. Both represent high water marks in the fantasy Genre.Adasunshine said:The urban setting was made very real by Mieville and people that know London and even love London can really relate to his descriptions and Saul's ponderings of the city. The Jungle setting, IMO, was a rather clever one, being a fan of the music myself back in the day, it made an interesting backdrop to the tale.
Overall, I really enjoyed it and am looking forward to his other books I currently have on order..... (yes GOLLUM, Perdido Street Station & Looking for Jake are on their way... ) xx
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