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10 thoughts on “King Rat

  1. says:

    King Rat was first published by British author China Mieville in 1998, his debut novel A reader in the speculative fiction genre will certainly make comparisons to Neil Gaiman s work Neverwhere published in 1996 The setting, tone, and unsettlingly charismatic underwordliness of the two books are too similar to escape association A careful reader will also find similarities with Gaiman s magnificent American Gods and the somewhat sequel Anansi Boys, but WAIT American Gods was first published in 2001 and Anansi was published in 2005 Mieville s work anticipated Gaiman s delving into personified mythos and pantheistic, animistic deification Mieville, an aficionado of role playing games, may have been inspired by Deities Demigods Cyclopedia of Gods and Heroes from Myth and Legend, the Advanced Dungeons and Dragons tome of supernaturals and superheroes, which has a section about animal gods and heroes.Using as his villain a revisionist Pied Piper of Hamelin, Mieville also draws a parallel to Haruki Murakami s 2002 novel Kafka on the Shore, which features a madman who wanted to create a flute from dead souls.King Rat is a story about a city, as all of Mieville s tales are told, and this one is about London It is also about music urban, dance music, that attracts and makes young lithe bodies move and grind And, yes, it is about rats lots of rats Readers beware.This, his first published novel, rings with a promise of literary magic, it is the herald of a new voice in our bookish clan When I finished Kraken, my first Mieville offering, I thought the book good, but was intrigued by its author and the talent that was evident I would later learn that Kraken was perhaps his weakest I finished Perdido Street Station with heartfelt disappointment as what had the hope of being a classic, faded and ended poorly Embassytown and The City and the City were both weird gems and to this reader The Scar finally delivered the promise of what he can produce King Rat was a momentous, promising first novel from a man who has demonstrated again and again that he is a great writer and undoubtedly he will show us much over the next few years.


  2. says:

    Everything starts somewhere, although many physicists disagree True to Pratchett s wit and wisdom, even China Mieville s frustratingly good writing had to have its beginnings And so it begins here, in his first novel King Rat , which as many readers have noted reads like a close cousin to Neil Gaiman s Neverwhere A cousin that the elderly relatives mention only in hushed whispers at family reunions The heavily tattooed one, with piercings in places you don t want to think of, clad in studded leather, riding a flashy motorbike, smelling of stale alcohol, with needle tracks on his arms That one.It s the first novel of His Chinaness the expression I shamelessly stole from Richard and plan to keep using for a while , and it shows It lacks the slightly arrogant exceedingly self confident polishing its later siblings boast It s rougher around the edges, it alternates between flaunting the sheer shock value and sulking around the corner like a dissatisfied teenage quasi rebel, trying hard to nonchalantly look cool It s still looking for its footing, in short.It s a novel of London s quite literal underbelly the creatures that lurk in the sewers and gorge themselves on garbage It has rats, and filth, and piss, and gruesome murders and overall level of grotesque that made me put this book away a few times just to purge my brain of the images I really did not want to be setting camp there It plays with legends and fairy tales, and centuries long vendettas It peppers its pages with rhyming Cockney slang which seriously tries to break my poor brain It takes the reader on a flight across the roofs and walls of London, taking my breath away and making me hold the said breath because of the stink of rot and piss that the pages gleefully convey Illustration by Richard A Kirk found here Yes, I easily see its flaws The characters developed a tad too thinly The plot lines and characters that appear dropped The gruesome scenes that seem to be thrown in jugs for kicks Yes, it s there, as much as I hate to admit it.It s amazing that right after this still unsure and, honestly, not yet great book China Mieville would go on to capture the readers with the flight of fantasy in the filthy New Crobuzon of Perdido Street Station which, if you think about it, is just a quick leap away from the strange beyond the surface London of King Rat My favorites of his The Scar , Un Lun Dun and Embassytown will come even later, once the skill and deceitful easiness of perfection of his writing reach their dizzying heights But the glimpses of what we all came to love in Mieville s books are already here I can squeeze between buildings through spaces you can t even see I can walk behind you so close my breath raises gooseflesh on your neck and you won t hear me I can hear the muscles in your eyes contract when your pupils dilate I can feed off your filth and live in your house and sleep under your bed and you will never know unless I want you to Already in this first far from perfect try there are the bits that will come to shine in Mieville s writing with time His ability to create characters so grey that they are quite murky His knack for developing a setting so alive and vivid that it becomes a character in it s own right, underbelly and all His descriptions that jugs fly off the page and already have the same captivating quality that won the fans over in Perdido Street Station The trains that enter London arrive like ships sailing across the roofs They pass between towers jutting into the sky like long necked sea beasts and the great gas cylinders wallowing in dirty scrub like whales Besides London un London, perhaps, in the spirit of books to come literal sub culture this novel focuses on the youth subculture as well, heavily featuring the Drum n Bass music the music, I confess, I had to look up on YouTube to understand what it s about Like language in Embassytown , it s always present even when it s not Its beats provide a beating heart to this book yes, I actually tried to come up with this pun I m uncool like that, okay and pay off nicely in the end.As far as China Mieville s writing goes, King Rat is an early, rough offering lacking the sophistication of its later siblings But had it come from most other writers those lacking Mieville s amazing way with words it could have been seen as a strong and very promising work, a proud accomplishment It s pretty good it just does not yet live up to the genius to come.And now, with that dreadful sinking feeling, I realize that besides Looking for Jake I have no other Mieville books to read His Chinaness needs to quickly write something new I m addicted and I need my fix I m just one of you, he said I m Citizen Rat


  3. says:

    Ooboy.Well Before China became His Chinaness, he wrote King Rat I found this book hard to read It s just so grim And I m not only referring to the gratuitous gross outs and gore It s something about the overall feel of the book The way the characters behave towards each other is just awful.Now don t get me wrong I think I liked it The book is an immersive experience The descriptions make you live the story through all five senses for better or for worse, considering it looks like dirt, smells like piss, tastes like rot, sounds like bass, and feels like a greasy countertop The first act was great and got me hooked the second act was a bit all over the place, but whatever, most second acts are and the third act was positively apotheosic But it had two serious rubs one being Mi ville s lack of experience, which shows at the seams and becomes all the apparent if you ve read his later works and the other being its borderline overbearing sense of woe Mi ville admits in the Acknowledgements that he was going through a generally rubbish year while writing it No shit You see, when I reviewed Embassytown , I praised the sense of despair that pervaded the book because it felt calculated I felt like the author was in total control of what was going on In King Rat the grim factor seems flailing and unfocused, to the point of being bathetic Now, we have to talk about Peake Mi ville has made abundantly clear his admiration for Mervyn Peake And I could swear that in the first half of this book, especially when describing the titular King Rat s acrobatic antics, intentionally or not, he was imitating the cartoonish hyper detailed way mannerisms are conveyed in Titus Groan Hell, he even throws in a Peakester egg, comparing a building in London s financial district to Gormenghast Castle.I m not even sure this is a bad thing It is a debut novel, after all Here we see Mi ville finding his voice, and it s kind of endearing to see his influences in relief But this isn t yet a Mi villian work these are but the shabby baby steps of the crown prince tottering on his way to the throne, or should I say, throwing a stone and an ivy branch into the lake.


  4. says:

    KING RAT was my introduction to China Mieville, and I was hooked by his writing This was a great premise and a story that s very well told.


  5. says:

    I have read quite a few books by China Mi ville by now Some of them I loved and some I really liked but this one I struggled with It was all so dark and despairing and frequently disgusting In parts it was also a bit boring Some credits are due for originality at least for the parts about the rats The descriptions of London were good and the ending wrapped everything up nicely Peter s actual identity was a a nice touch too So just an okay book which I am glad I did not read as my first by this author If I had read it first I would not have read any of his books and I would have missed out on some wonderful reading


  6. says:

    WARNING If the following image causes you to recoil from your computer in terror, King Rat is decidedly not the book for you SQUEEEEEEEEK On the other hand, if you can look these horrors in the face without losing your lunch, then I very much recommend China Mi ville s entertaining first book King Rat tells the story of Saul Garamond, a luckless Londoner who is blamed for his father s untimely death before you can shake a whisker Happily for Saul, a mysterious stranger named King Rat breaks our hero out of the pokey and introduces Saul to a very new kind of lifestyle However, Saul s new life is quickly threatened by a figure from King Rat s past I don t want to give anything away but Mi ville does a great job in spinning this story out over 318 pages, particularly considering that this is his very first novel.I d definitely classify King Rat as a horror book, thanks in part to a few scenes of pretty intense violence and terror although nothing graphic than you would expect from Stephen King, for example But the book incorporates some urban fantasy elements too, and the comparisons with Neil Gaiman s American Gods are spot on Mi ville is very good at weaving these mythical and fantastic elements into 21st century London, and some of the best parts of the book are when Mi ville hints at the larger mythology behind the narrative The writing is much polished than I expected from a first novel, and Mi ville has a unique and interesting voice that was a pleasure to read I thought the author showed a real knack for raising his game when the stakes were high, and two scenes in particular the end of Part 4 and the second half of Part 6 were jaw droppingly good Finally, King Rat features a supremely cool villain, one of the best I have recently encountered The big baddie is a terrifying meld of myth Mi ville s imagination that you won t soon forget.This was my first Mi ville book, and I can t wait to tackle his later stuff I certainly had fun with this one 3.5 stars, highly recommended.


  7. says:

    Romanul are la baz povestea The Pied Piper of Hamelin plasat n perioada modern Este o carte bine scris , cu personaje bine realizate, dar cu o ac iune destul de trenant i cu episoade ce par s se repete Motivul c nt re ului din Hamelin pare introdus for at, iar nc rc tura dramatic a pove tii medievale se pierde ntr o goan prin canalele Londrei i n episoade de violen gratuit.


  8. says:

    El Rey Rata es la primera novela publicada por China Mi ville Si la comparamos con sus obras posteriores, mucho m s redondas y perfectas en su mayor a, dir amos que es algo que se aprecia perfectamente en la lectura Pero es tambi n una gran novela de fantas a.Es f cil sorprenderse y disfrutar de este Londres subterr neo lleno de suciedad, del uso que hace de historias ya conocidas d ndoles una genial vuelta de tuerca, de la m sica, y de un protagonista el Rey dif cil de olvidar Una historia entretenid sima y original, con un buen final, aunque quiz s podr a haberles sacado m s jugo a los secundarios y al submundo creado Todo esto unido a la prosa de calidad del autor, que aqu era ya indiscutible, hacen que esta obra merezca la pena sin duda alguna Una enorme mole de edificio achaparrado se alzaba frente a ellos, un monstruo financiero al estilo de Gormenghast, una bestia de acero y hormig n que parec a destilarse, como si fuese una extensi n de los edificios circundantes. Oh


  9. says:

    Here s the deal with King Rat Neil Gaiman and China Mieville were sitting at a pub one cold 1998 evening, right And China makes some wager with Neil, a wager that Neil ultimately loses Let s say China bets him he can t write a better comic book series than The Sandman So for losing, Neil has to write a book for China to sell under Mieville s name Neil writes King Rat It s got some typical Gaimanisms a trip through a fantastical underworld two steps removed from the normal version of London, characters lifted from mythology and given a gritty present day reality, and violent turns that are both threatening and strangely out of place But Neil knows he needs to at least try to hide the fact that he s ghostwritten this one, so he makes the characters lackluster, the plot twists obvious, and the spelling strangely erratic Gaiman fans should go readwell, anything by Gaiman I ve personally only read Looking For Jake by Mieville, a collection of his short stories which I very much enjoyed and highly recommend This one, in my opinion, is totally skip worthy.


  10. says:

    I tried to keep in mind when picking up King Rat that it was China Mi ville s debut novel and the chances of it being on par or better than PSS weren t high With that in mind, I wasn t too disappointed.Saul Garamond s come home to London after a camping excursion and finds the place quiet, empty of its usual domestic element Instead of bothering about his father s silence, Saul succumbs to exhaustion and is awakened to a confusion of police officers, caution tape and a broken window Now under suspicion for the murder of his father, Saul tries to unwrap the events of that morning In between interrogations, we learn about Saul s past and his spotty relationship with his father one of the marking characteristics of his suspicious arrival that has tipped the police in his direction.Before the police can come to a decisive conclusion, a mysterious intruder known only as King Rat whisks Saul away to the shadowy underground of London back alleys, rooftops and sewers Among his arsenal is a secret for Saul a royal heritage and magical inheritance into the shadow, survival, and subterfuge of rodentia.Saul, perhaps too quickly, adapts to his new rodent like abilities with an ease as disturbing as some of the traits themselves The scene where King Rat educates Saul on the finer delicacies of the ratty palate is particularly disgusting and if it didn t turn Saul s stomach, it sure did mine This is one appetite Mi ville seems to relish, revisiting the option time and time again throughout the novel The other is the ability to somehow fall into the shadows, become a shadow, imperceptible to a world separated by half a dozen feet If you can imagine a 182 pound man Mi ville seems to think this is a weight bearing gravity than it actually does taking to wall climbing shimmying and roof scaling like a duck to water, then you can easily understand the unexplainable vocal trick passed down to Saul through some mysterious aqueduct of Brand New Rat Abilities which turns his voice into a darker, huskier and all pervasive entity I m still not quite sure how this is accomplished, nor how Saul mastered this ability, but it seems to freak his friends out and makes for a good scare.After being kept in the dark about his role as Prince Rat in this new life architecture, Saul decides to go investigate life on his own Running into a friend Kay , he learns just how bad things have gotten since his prison break Two officers assigned to watch his father s flat on the chance Saul returns to the scene of his supposed first crime are found dead The police are determined to pin the blame on Saul again, but the nature of the crime brutal, decisive, utterly destructive doesn t fit with Inspector Crowley s understanding of Saul There s something run afoul in London.Taking it upon himself to spread the word on Saul s capture and disappearance, his friend Fabian discovers a new, unremarkable character hanging around girl interest Natasha s flat With a flute in hand and an ear for music Pete, as he has introduced himself as, adds his own tune to Natasha s Jungle music mixture.If it isn t clear by now what Mi ville is cleverly attempting to pull off, King Rat clears the fog as he and two friends Anansi and LopLop sit Saul down and relate an ancient tale of revenge Pete, you see, if you can put the pieces together here, is really the Pied Piper of Hamelin and King Rat is The One That Got Away Now, ever determined to pay the Piper back for his emasculation, King Rat seeks revenge with the hope of regaining his kingdom and the loyalty of his subjects in this, Saul s fucking fable 123.Halfway through the book, King Rat and his cohorts of world mythology lose steam For a couple of chapters I worried the plot would unravel under the task Mi ville set for himself, but my fears were unfounded This lapse in confidence provided Saul the space he needed to flex his metaphorical wings if only he was a bat and rebuff King Rat with a committed collection of dialogue which, when combined, seems to add up to than he s spoken in the entire text thus far Getting on with his ratty self, Saul also reveals a bombshell King Rat s wayward subjects are turning to Saul for leadership, an unthinkable event which kicks the now fearful leader into action Frustrated with King Rat s brooding, Saul also puts his gears to work on a solo mission that reveals the truth about his father and sets into motion a new, darker turn of events.Mi ville has a gift for dialogue and with King Rat entertains a lasting relationship to sprawling cities with his attention to detail and marvelous construction Under him, London streets undulate with hidden mysteries and a pervasive, gritty darkness seeping into the culture of city dwellers and personal plotlines alike Mi ville s cities have personalities, are just as much characters as his humans are He reconstructs London from the inside out and builds a new landscape of the unseen, the dark underbellies beyond the fa ades of decorated building fronts Mi ville also deconstructs his protagonist and by the end of the novel much like the later PSS Saul has not just reclaimed his identity, he has found and molded it, shaped by the tumultuous forces of family and loyalty and emerges reborn and refreshed a new Saul Garamond, neither the man he started out as, or the rat he thought he would become.I never noticed the writing in this novel in the way good writing makes the task look easy and polished While some events in the novel weren t thematically as seamless as I would have liked, Mi ville manages to fool me into thinking they could be, if I just thought hard enough Or it could be that my eyes sparkle for all things Mi ville, but my recent dive into Looking For Jake was refreshing on the rabid fan front The man isn t a writing god mistakes do happen but it s nice to know when he s got it right, it s some of the best I ve ever read.If you like urban fantasy definitely pick this one up.