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Summary

It is a time of revolts and revolutions, conflict and intrigue. New Crobuzon is being ripped apart from without and within. War with the shadowy city-state of Tesh and rioting on the streets at home are pushing the teeming metropolis to the brink. In the midst of this turmoil, a mysterious masked figure spurs strange rebellion, while treachery and violence incubate in unexpected places. In desperation, a small group of renegades escapes from the city and crosses strange and alien continents in the search for a lost hope, an undying legend. In the blood and violence of New Crobuzon's most dangerous hour, there are whispers. It is the time of the Iron Council.

©2005 China Mieville (P)2011 Audible Ltd

Critic reviews

"Miéville has reshaped modern fantasy, as readers of the award-winning Perdido Street Station and The Scar know very well, and he's done so by rejecting epic romance à la Tolkien for what one might call Zolaesque magic naturalism. Miéville's signature city, New Crobuzon, is populated by the human, the insectoid, the genetically remade, and altogether teems with the kind of grotesques one associates with Bosch paintings, the gnarly art (both verbal and pictorial) of Mervyn Peake or the night-club scene in Star Wars. There are no generic happy endings here." (The Washington Post)
"China Miéville's new novel takes place in the same world as Perdido Street Station and The Scar, a kind of steampunk milieu furnished by clockwork engines (here we see the invention of the phonograph), electrified by magic ("thaumaturgy"), and populated by an improbable variety of sentient life-forms. It tells the story of industrial action on a railway - which, this being fantasy fiction, is more colourful than a day of commuter misery at Waterloo." (The Guardian)
"Full of warped and memorable characters, this violent and intensely political novel smoothly combines elements of fantasy, science fiction, horror, even the western." (Publishers' Weekly)

What listeners say about Iron Council

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  • Overall
    2 out of 5 stars
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    2 out of 5 stars
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    2 out of 5 stars

Even with the best will in the world....

If this book wasn’t for you, who do you think might enjoy it more?

I am a bit of a Mieville fan having loved "The city and the city" and the first two New Crobuzon books to bits. I came to this willing to plunge into any wierdness that China proposed. I had saved it up for my holidays for over 6 months after I purchased it, smuggling it with me like a precious pleasure postponed. I got halfway through and I had to give up and I am confused as to exactly why. The politics that other reviewers mention did not frighten me nor the experimental nature of it. I was looking forward to more Mieville challenges. I am not sure who it is aimed at since as an admirer of Mieville's writing I was left disappointed and those who have not already been introduced to New Crobuzon will be left totally confused. Die hard fans who brook no criticism perhaps?

Would you ever listen to anything by China Mieville again?

Of course but with more trepidation having been bitten by this. Fair play to him for trying something new and I may even have a go at the print version to see if it was the content or the delivery. I will have to wait for a whlle though, until the bad taste leaves my ears. My current feeling is that I hope China listens to his editor the next time he tells him to tighten it up a bit. Mieville is an amazing writer and I would love him to take this one back to the drawiing board because it is full of great ideas.

How did the narrator detract from the book?

I think the narrator was as lost as the rest of us and if so that might have been part of the problem. It is narrated with willing enough enthusiasm in spots but the long gaps between sentences leaves them disjointed. The mysterious disappearance of any inflection from time to time reminded me of my own reading to my kids when I hate the book (Postman flippin' Pat or something) and just want to be somewhere else so I start reading on autopilot. Is this the narrator's fault? I don't know but the listless narration was the straw that broke this camel's back. I must admid that John Lee on the city and the city and Janathan Oliver on Perdido St Station were more to my taste.

What character would you cut from Iron Council?

I rather liked the idea all of the characters and the references to characters from the other books but they did not breathe.

Any additional comments?

I think my biggest problem with this was the highly intrusive and continuous use of the historic present which, once it thrust itself into my face, particularly in the flashback sequences, obscured anything else the book might have been trying to do. I suspect it may have been the root of the problems for the narrator or maybe it was the narrators handling of it that was the problem for me. In any case, as much as I absolutely hate to give a bad review, I have to say that this one was a waste of my hard earned cash and my holiday reading time. Luckily I had brought a few print books with me on the hols and they worked out much better once I had given this up as a bad job. With the best will in the world I just couldn't get into it.

2 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    2 out of 5 stars

Interesting ideas, but too fragmented

Having enjoyed reading the 1st two books in the series I thought it sensible to conclude with this last instalment.

I found the book a bit too confusing for an audiobook. I had some trouble relating to the characters and why they were doing what they were (characters sometimes seemed to be included in the story for no real reason).

At the end of the book I had no real longing for more. It's possible that this book is more suited to a written format and that its complexity makes it difficult to follow in audiobook format.

Overall I thought the book (like the previous books) had some interesting ideas, but I think the author was maybe over reaching in some cases and maybe tried to fit too much in.

I can't really recommend listening to Iron Council unless you have listened to the previous 2 books.

2 people found this helpful

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    3 out of 5 stars
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    3 out of 5 stars

Significantly worse than Perdido Street Station.

The story felt half baked and I outright hated most of the main characters. The narration was pretty flat too with inconsistent tones and characterisation.

1 person found this helpful

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    4 out of 5 stars

epic slightly sad end to the saga

it started slow but steadily built up speed as the separate narratives were brought together. the iron council is coming back revolution is in the air hope is alive things are going to change!
I have read reviews that said the political language put the off but didn't find that and the narration especially the battle scenes is excellent.
I have now read all the new crobuzon saga and this is good conclusion to a tale that relates more to the city than specific characters. you don't need to have read the previous books but I think reading peridido st station would useful as it introduces the city and its various species and politics.

1 person found this helpful

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Expertly written, though lacking focus.

Brilliantly realised, but the weakest of Mieville's trilogy. A more focussed narrative would have made for a more engaging read.

1 person found this helpful

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    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars

Weird. Brutal. Incredible.

The third of China Mieville's Bas-Lag books, Iron Council matches the excellence of the first two, and further explores new areas of this weird and wonderful steampunk world. Iron Council finds New Crobuzon at war with the shadowy city-state of Tesh - a place of wild and powerful sorcery. While war wages and the countryside is torn apart, a ragtag group make their way to find Judah, - a powerful golemancer who is the key to leading the rebels way to the Iron Council - a massive train, constantly on the move, snatching up track from behind it and laying ahead. Meanwhile, New Crobuzon slides towards rebellion as secret groups plan their attacks.

Iron Council is utterly wonderful, showing again what a talented and imaginative author Mieville is, - again the only minor niggle in this audiobook is the narrator using the same voice nearly all the time for a number of characters, - the New Crobuzon books are I think, three which really would've benefitted from multiple narrators.

1 person found this helpful

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    3 out of 5 stars
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Excellent story, shame about the narration

I didn't enjoy Railsea as much as I'd hoped, but Iron Council was everything I've come to expect from China Mieville. What almost completely ruined it for me, though, was the narration. Mieville utilises an excellent and broad vocabulary, but unfortunately the narrator approached many of the words as someone who had never heard them before and therefore pronounced them with seemingly random inflection and phonics. I can thoroughly recommend the book, but it's one to read until a new actor is found do so for Audible.

1 person found this helpful

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    3 out of 5 stars
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Excellent book, poor Audiobook

Audiobook chapters are all wonky. Chapter 5 goes from 5 to 9, 6 to 13 and so on.

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Amazing story. passable narration

I read loads of reviews slating the narrator. he's actually okay, the story's just incredible.

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overlong weak finish

I found this hard to follow in places. the jumping about was difficult and confusing