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Armada is a floating pirate city that roams the waters of Bas-Lag, primarily around the Swollen Ocean. It is constructed from a multitude of scavenged, captured, and assimilated ships joined together with chains, planks and bridges.


Armada's existence has been kept as secret as possible for centuries by its leadership. The city survives by way of piracy, scavenging, and some trade with other pirate factions, like the Cactacae of Dreer Samheer. Its vast network of ships, which use special thaumaturgical compasses to find their way back, raid coastlines and vessels for goods that range from soil to books to new citizenry.[1]



Insofar as Armada has a centralized ruling government, it is led by a senate of the various ridings' rulers. The exact number varies depending on the leadership of each riding, as some ridings are composed of groups of leaders while others are led by individuals. The senate gathers irregularly: until the events of 1780, it had not gathered in over eight years.[1]


Although there is a senate, the leaders of Garwater riding are considered the de facto leaders of Armada, owing to Garwater's status as the most powerful, unified riding on Armada.[1]


The makeup of Armada's population is as varied as the races of Bas-Lag, although most new citizens are taken from areas in the vicinity of the Swollen Ocean, where Armada and its raiders hunt. New citizens to the floating city are largely composed of prisoners, slaves, and others who are unlikely to hold loyalty to another power. [1]

After their initial induction, the new "press-ganged" citizenry are rarely allowed to venture away from Armada before years of loyal service. New citizenry who fail to adapt to the city are often executed, should all attempts to acclimate them to the city fail. [1]


Culturally and racially, Armada is extremely diverse, and while its collection of scientific and thaumaturgical knowledge grows unpredictably in fits and starts of scavenging, there are many accomplished and brilliant minds among its populace and Armada approaches the level of more conventional cities in these areas. Armada's citizens each belong to one of the city's autonomous "ridings", a sort of miniature political state within the city itself, but are free to travel around the city and between ridings. [1]

Below Armada, cray, menfish, dolphins, and the occasional aquatic or amphibious Remade live and work on the vessels' underside. Suited human divers also work on repairs and construction projects here, but the aquatic races form their own sunken cities and societies. The political and cultural nature of these places remain unclear. [1]

Armada has long traveled at crawling speed and great expense of fuel. During the events of The Scar, the rulers of Garwater riding attempted to replace the city's ineffectual fleet of tugboats with a more powerful motive force. [1]


Transportation on Armada takes several forms. Gondolas and elevated rope bridges connect the various ships and vessels across Armada, while airships are often used as a more convenient form of transport. Horses and ox, skinny and inbred, are used to pull carts across the various walkways and byways of the city. [1]


See also: List of Bridges in Armada

Armada is comprised of smaller sub-states known as "ridings". Each riding has its own ruling class which participates in a council that governs Armada as a whole. Each riding consists of a number of ships. The ones that are mentioned in The Scar are included below.

Note that the layout of Armada is never precisely described. Shaddler - Booktown - Garwater's Basilio docks - Jhour seem to form one edge of the city, while Garwater nestles in the center between all of these and Curhouse. Bask, Shaddler, Dry Fall, Thee-and-Thine, and the haunted riding must make up the other side of the city in some configuration. [1]


Bask Riding is known to have "uniformed proctors" as police. It is home to "burn-temples" and "triptych statues".


Booktown riding is also known as the khepri quarter, or the Clockhouse Spur. As the name suggests, it is home to one of Armada's largest libraries. The Pinchermarn, Corrosive Memory and Dancing Wight are some of the vessels that make up the Grand Gears Library.


Curhouse riding is a democracy ruled by the Democratic Council, which oversees an orderly system of courts.

Dry Fall[]

Dry Fall riding is a "protectorate" ruled by the Brucolac and his cadre of Vampir.


Garwater is the most powerful riding in Armada, ruled by the Lovers at the time of The Scar.


Jhour riding is ruled by a "solar queendom" with the cactacae woman Braginod on its throne.


Shaddler riding is home to most of the ship's scabmettlers.


Thee-and-Thine is the site of the city's very popular arena fights, glad' circuses, and bazaars. It is ruled by the Trader-King Friedrich.

Haunted Quarter[]

The Haunted Quarter is not a true riding, but rather an abandoned and feared part of the city. It is home to some of the oldest vessels in Armada, and explorers to its depths come back terrified, or sometimes not at all. Only one Haunted Quarter ship is named.


Armadan currency and its denominations include:[1]

  • Toss or "sailor's toss" — Small value, like pennies.
  • Eye — Moderate value. Ten eyes equal the value of one flag
  • Flag — Larger value than an eye. Ten flags equal the value of one finial. Flags are also the most commonly-used unit of currency on Armada.
  • Finial — The largest unit of currency commonly used on Armada. The finial's name derives from the word for a distinctive ornament at the top of a roof, pinnacle, or canopy.


  1. 1.00 1.01 1.02 1.03 1.04 1.05 1.06 1.07 1.08 1.09 1.10 June 2002. China Mieville. The Scar

Places and locations of Bas-Lag

Armada · Cobsea · Dreer Samheer · Gengris · Gharcheltist · Gnurr Kett· High Cromlech · Jangsach · Kar Torrer Kingdom · Khadoh · Maru'ahm · Myrshock · Neovadan · New Crobuzon · Salkrikaltor Cray Commonwealth · Shankell · Suroch · Tesh · Troglodopolis · The Brothers · Witchocracy · Yoraketche

Islands and minor territories

Bartoll · Basilisk Channel · Dancing Bird Island · Figh Vadiso · Firewater Straits · Galaggi Veldt · Geshen · Jheshull Islands · Nova Esperium · Qé Banssa · Rin Lor · The Shards


Bered Kai Nev · Fractured Land · Rohagi · Shoteka