Profile: Speculative Fiction, Weird Fantasy, Politics, Bas-Lag
I’ve been having some trouble getting traction on this review. Not because I don’t know what to say about the book, but because everything I’d say has already been said. If you go to the Wiki page for Iron Council you’ll find a fantastic summary of the events of the book, along with snippets of some of the better reviews, both positive and negative. They touch on the book’s overt politics, it’s relatively anemic setting development and the unique perspective China Miéville brings to the fantasy genre. I’ve been somewhat verbose on these topics in my other reviews of Miéville’s Bas-Lag novels. But between those and the internet’s surfeit of quality opinion, I’m finding myself without much to say.
What should be said is that Iron Council is an excellent book, in spite of critical opinion. It is a less than stellar entry in the Bas-Lag sequence of books but it still stands well on its own. It is also exemplar of Miéville’s literary philosophy and worth reading for that reason alone. It is probably the most political piece of fantasy you’ll ever read, stuffed to the brim with socialist rhetoric, liberal ideals and a cast of dissidents and nonconformists. But if you don’t let the message get in the way of the great story and Iron Council will start to feel a whole lot more like Perdido Street Station.