Bas-Lag Wiki

Motley is a criminal kingpin who operates in New Crobuzon during the events of Perdido Street Station. He is highly infamous amongst the residents of the city and the gangs under his control are considered to be dangerous and violent.


Mr Motley is a mob boss who harvests the milk of worms which produces a psychoactive effect in humans, the substance is known as Dreamshit and is exceptionally popular within New Crobuzon, partly due to its highly addictive properties. During the story, Motley asks Lin to create a sculpture of himself, as he specifically wanted a gland artist to replicate his appearance. Lin works on the sculpture within the attic of one of Motley's operations buildings, toiling for hours on end to make the perfect work of art. She was offered a significant sum of money if the work was completed, demonstrating the wealth possessed by Mr Motley.

After Isaac's moth breaks free from its cage within his laboratory, it frees the worms which are kept captive by Motley. Later, he begins to acknowledge Isaac's involvement with the moths and believes that the scientist is a potential rival drug-trader. In reaction to this, Motley imprisons Lin within the attic and holds her at ransom until Isaac returns the worms to him. Lemuel informs Isaac that Motley has no reason to keep Lin alive, so his attempts at resolving the problem will likely be fruitless. This convinces Isaac to enlist the help of Derkhan who discovers that Motley purchased the worms from the government.

Later, after the worms have nearly all been killed, the final one returns to Motley's base of operations. Isaac and his accomplices find Lin who has been beaten, cut and abused within the attic. They eventually elude Motley and escape the building after killing the final slake-moth; they seek refuge in a squalid building in New Crobuzon.

Criminal Activity[]

The most notorious criminal kingpin in New Crobuzon has numerous illegal connections around the city; drug trafficking, extortion and violent crime are common practised by Motley's gang members. He has significant influence upon the criminal underworld of the city and his monetary freedom enables him to do as he pleases. However, despite his infamy, he's difficult to track down and actually meeting Motley is incredibly rare as most people are unaware of his current location. Lin was lucky to interact with the mob boss, though her unfortunate demise was remedied by the positive outcome created by Isaac and his fellows.


Motley is a hideous-looking creature who's half-human and half-insect; he possesses multiple mouths and other body parts. Grotesque lumps and cysts cover his skin which makes him appear deformed or a victim of radiation poisoning. Beauty may be in the eye of the beholder, but Motley is almost objectively disgusting. Despite this, he hopes that Lin will create a sculpture of him, perhaps demonstrating his narcissistic personality which fails to perceive his blatantly horrid physical form.


Someone who owns various drug-trading rings and orchestrates violence isn't likely to be a particularly kind person. Motley is cruel, cold and unemotional; his businesses needs take precedence over people's wellbeing, demonstrated by his horrendous treatment of Lin whilst he held her captive. Furthermore, he expresses minimal sympathy for the victims of his crimes and doesn't see any ethical issues with selling addictive drugs to the citizens of New Crobuzon.

Characters in Perdido Street Station
Main characters

Isaac Dan der Grimnebulin · Lin · Yagharek · Derkhan Blueday · Motley · Mayor Bentham Rudgutter

Minor characters

Andrej Shelbornek · Benjamin Flex · Cornfed Daihat · Construct Council · David Serachin · Lemuel Pigeon · Lublamai Dadscatt · Magesta Barbile · Montjohn Rescue · Montague Vermishank · Pengefinchess · Shadrach · Silchristchek · Tansell · Eliza Stem-Fulcher · Teafortwo