Iron Council by China Miéville
It’s not often that I simply give up on a book, but I gave up on this one about halfway through. It’s a shame, too, because I thoroughly enjoyed Miéville’s other fantasies that I’ve read, Perdido Street Station and The Scar. In previous novels, he’s shown himself to be a brilliant fantasist with a unique vision of a unique fantasy setting, far different from the conventional Tolkien knock-offs that I’ve read (most modern fantasy, I believe, is just a footnote to Tolkien).
In Iron Council, however, I found no sympathetic characters, and I found the vision confusing and incoherent. Understanding this novel requires a deep understanding of the politics between and within the different societies that Miéville has created: New Corbuzon, Tesh, and so on. However, because I didn’t care for any of the characters in the novel, I couldn’t bring myself to be interested in the politics or the revolution or the civil war which was happening. After a very long section of the book which was apparently concerned with the memories of one character (who may or may not have been the main character in the novel — I’m not sure) which was written in the present tense with unconventional dialogue, I realized that I had to stop reading this one.
I will very likely read more of China Miéville’s novels in the future, because I’ve been so impressed with his previous ones. This one, unfortunately, I cannot recommend.