Intriguing "Tale of Two Cities", occupying the same Space/Time
Apr 26, 2009
Somewhere outside London are the twin cities of Beszal and Ul Qoma; but they are not necessarily neighbors - they occupy the same Space and Time as each other, with "Crosshatches" of overlapping. It's illegal to cross these tenuous borders except through Corpula Hall, the "official border". Even noticing the other city in your sights is illegal, you must "un-see" everything in the opposite city. If an illegal entry is made from one city to the other, the Breach is invoked. The Breach is neither city, yet controls both.
Inspector Tyador Borlu from Beszel and Constable Lizbyet Corwi are called to a murder scene in Beszel, but it soon becomes clear that the woman, eventually discovered to be an archeology student named Mahalia Geary from Ul Qoma, was actually murdered in Ul Qoma and dumped in Beszel. Borlu tries to invoke the Breach, but can't because no breach occurred during the murder. He travels legally over the border to Ul Qoma to work with local Inspector Qussim Dhatt.
Mahalia was into "Orciny", a fabled third city between the cracks of Beszel and Ul Qoma. There is a large archeological dig in Ul Qoma where she was working with dishonored professor Bowden, who once wrote a (banned) book on Orciny called 'Between The City And The City'. What had Mahalia found that she was murdered over? Who was she involved with? What or where is Orciny, and will Inspector Borlu have to Breach to find out?
It seems impossible that China Mieville could write a bad book. I'm a huge fan of his. 'The City And The City' is a departure from Mieville's usual style though. It's more gritty and precise rather than languishing in rich and flowing prose. It lacks the mystery, beauty, and anomalous schema of 'Perdido Street Station' and 'The Scar', and unfortunately lacks the usual fully-fleshed characterizations of Mieville's past works. I felt like I hardly knew Borlu though the story is told in first person by him. First person may not be Mieville's strongest suit.
Yet with it's faults comes it's strengths. As spoken by senior editor Chris Schluep, Mieville's strongest suit is his world-building; cities in particular, as evident in 'Cities' and in 'Perdido Street Station'. The conjoined cities of Beszel and Ul Qoma are artistically painted in the depth and color of the well-written word. 'The City And The City' takes you to a magical place right here in our own world; they feel so real you might find yourself wanting a Visa just to visit. The streets and towers, the parks and town centers, the blending of one into the other, all makes for a fantastic read. Add to this the intensity of a murder mystery and you've got the key to a successful novel. Though different than his usual work, I loved reading 'The City And The City'. I hope you do too. A solid five stars. Enjoy!
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I want to thank Everyone for welcoming me back! :) I'm here to stay folks, my sabbatical on writing reviews is over and I'll continue to review for Lunch. It's great to be back, too! Thanks again for … more
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Product Description New York Times bestselling author China Miéville delivers his most accomplished novel yet, an existential thriller set in a city unlike any other–real or imagined.
When a murdered woman is found in the city of Beszel, somewhere at the edge of Europe, it looks to be a routine case for Inspector Tyador Borlú of the Extreme Crime Squad. But as he investigates, the evidence points to conspiracies far stranger and more deadly than anything he could have imagined.
Borlú must travel from the decaying Beszel to the only metropolis on Earth as strange as his own. This is a border crossing like no other, a journey as psychic as it is physical, a shift in perception, a seeing of the unseen. His destination is Beszel's equal, rival, and intimate neighbor, the rich and vibrant city of Ul Qoma. With Ul Qoman detective Qussim Dhatt, and struggling with his own transition, Borlú is enmeshed in a sordid underworld of rabid nationalists intent on destroying their neighboring city, and unificationists who dream of dissolving the two into one. As the detectives uncover the dead woman's secrets, they begin to suspect a truth that could cost them and those they care about more than their lives.
What stands against them are murderous powers in Beszel and in Ul Qoma: and, most terrifying of all, that which lies between these two cities.
Casting shades of Kafka and Philip K. Dick, Raymond Chandler and 1984, The City & the City is a murder...