King Rat

King Rat

Book - 1999
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Something is stirring in London's dark, stamping out its territory in brickdust and blood. Something has murdered Saul Garamond's father, and left Saul to pay for the crime.

But a shadow from the urban waste breaks into Saul's prison cell and leads him to freedom. A shadow called King Rat, who reveals Saul's royal heritage, a heritage that opens a new world to Saul, the world below London's streets--a heritage that also drags Saul into King Rat's plan for revenge against his ancient enemy,. With drum 'n' bass pounding the backstreets, Saul must confront the forces that would use him, the forces that would destroy him, and the forces that shape his own bizarre identity.

China Mieville's King Rat was nominated for both the International Horror Guild and Bram Stoker Awards for best first novel.

Publisher: New York : Tor, [1999], c1998.
ISBN: 9780312890728
Characteristics: 318 pages ; 21 cm.


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DBRL_KrisA Jan 21, 2017

A few minor quibbles: King Rat's and Anansi's manner of speech were a little hard to follow; I didn't understand a lot of the references to London's underground music scene; and I thought the ending lacked a certain... finality. Other than that, a pretty cool read. I'll be adding some more of Mieville's work to the to-read list.

Aug 18, 2012

King Rat was Mieville's first book, and perhaps will be most interesting to readers already familiar with his later work. The concept and plot are both simple, almost embarrasingly so: it's the Pied Piper versus the half-rat heir to the throne of King Rat, played out in late-90s London to the tune of Drum n' Bass. It's a cousin of Jeff Noon's Vurt, playing out a ubiquitous folk tale in the context of a particular underground music scene in London. Although the hook is a bit too easy, it is interesting to see Mieville writing about his favorite theme: the secret cities that exist inside of the apparent urban landscape of London.

May 18, 2011

This was great. Full of a rich tapestry of sci fi ideas.

Jun 29, 2010

This book was quite good, quite entertaining, but occasionally a little bewildering, as well. For his first novel, it seems like Mieville was holding back quite a bit, and the results tend to be uneven.

"King Rat" wanders a bit from action sequences to philosophical considerations of Drum and Bass music, and never completely finds its footing. The characters, in particular, feel a bit weak. Saul, the protagonist, is very well developed, and King Rat is also solid, but Saul's friends and the villain all seem a bit cardboard. The style of the writing is so good that you really expect more.

"King Rat" also presents the standard "young man finds out his humdrum origins were a lie and he's actually a prince / messiah / Jedi / child wizard" with a darker twist than most. All in all, it's a solid effort, but it feels like something is lacking. It's really good, but it's not great.

The biggest problem may simply be that his next book, "Perdido Street Station," was flawless. He went all-out, inventing an entirely new world full of rich characters and a fully developed cultural and physical geography... "King Rat" ends up feeling like a rough draft of a much better novel. This isn't to say that "King Rat" isn't worth reading, but that "Perdido Street Station" is a classic. Either way, I look forward to reading more from Mr. Mieville in the future.

Dec 10, 2009

Mieville turns London upside down, creating a unique alter-world filled with inspired invention. Mieville's writing style is dangerously creative but carries over the top at times.


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