China Miéville’s The Scar Chapter-By-Chapter: Ch. 15

Bellis Coldwine by Andrew Trabbold

Bellis Coldwine by Andrew Trabbold

Other books (and other things in general) held my attention tonight, so I only had time for one chapter of The Scar. No matter, let’s take a quick look at what happens in the first chapter of Part Three, “The Compass Factory”. Here’s the index and intro if you need it. SPOILERS FOR THE WHOLE BOOK AHEAD.

(Art on left by Andrew Trabbold)

Note: No new ships this time, either.

Chapter 15

The title of this Part actually refers to something specific this time, rather than being an overarching metaphor like the previous titles. But the titular factory isn’t featured in this chapter, so I’ll move on.

We learn the full contents of Krüach Aum’s book. I’d forgotten that Aum was just retelling a story from older manuscripts, that he himself didn’t actually call an Avanc. I wonder then, how he calculated how it could be done. I’d love to see some fan artist (or general-creative-type) actually recreate Aum’s book. The drawings, the text, everything. It would be a cool piece of memorabilia.

Bellis has an interesting moment of paranoia about Aum’s book; specifically, how it just happens to be written in a language she’s an expert in. I never picked up on this before, but is it possible that the Lovers sought her out as well? How unlikely is it, then, that both she and Tearfly ended up on the Terpsichoria together? It seems to be hugely coincidental; but you know, I wouldn’t rule it out entirely… Who knows what resources Armada might have had on land to make sure the Terpsichoria was the only vessel that could have taken both Tearfly and Bellis?

Tanner is having a bit of post-traumatic stress disorder about getting back into the water, and I enjoy the descriptions of the ocean as a vast, deep, terrifying place, because I have a love-hate relationship with the ocean myself. In fact it’s probably because I’m so terrified of the deeps that I love going on boats, and I love reading fiction about sea voyages. I’m also fascinated by marine biology, because the ocean is the most alien environment on our planet; and in a New-Weird setting like Bas-Lag, it can be vastly more alien than we can fathom. Miéville does a great job of making Bas-Lag’s oceans a scary place.

A few posts ago I was talking about the Haunted Quarter and how it gets explained away as something else, but now I can’t remember if that’s true. I thought going into this book for the 4th time would mean I’d know everything already, but this is one mystery I can’t remember a thing about. I hope however it plays out is satisfying.

Doul and the Brucolac’s conversation is great. The scenes between these two are among my favourites in the book. The two of them have so much history together that is barely mentioned. We hear about the battles and adventures they’ve faced together: “razor golems”, “the steamwind plain”… whatever those are. If Miéville wrote a prequel about anything in the existing Bas-Lag books, it should be about Doul and the Brucolac. It would be fucking awesome. Doul also states that he is “the Lovers’ man”, and that the Brucolac should know why. This is another thing I can’t remember: exactly why Doul so obediently follows their orders.

The best moment of the chapter is where the Brucolac, in so many words, accuses Doul of being a wanker. We end the chapter hearing about the Scar for the first time, although not much is divulged about it yet, only that it’s connected somehow to Doul’s sword. The reader, having just found out about the Avanc, must now be totally astounded that raising a gigantic sea creature isn’t even the whole plan, it’s just the means to an even more dangerous end. Basically, the Lovers are as insane as the Brucolac says they are. Smart dude, that vampire.


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