Bas-Lag Wiki
Advertisement
"Like Miéville's first two novels, The Scar is a feat of the imagination, a rich reclamation of the pleasures of every genre. It's also a caution against imagination, a sobering look at the chaos left in the wake of every mad visionary."
—The Guardian

The Scar is the second novel set in Bas-Lag, China Miéville's created world. It is Miéville's third novel, and was first published in 2002 by Macmillan.

Dedication[]

To Claudia, my mother

China Miéville's parents separated shortly after he was born. He was brought up by his mother, Claudia, who was a translator, writer and teacher.

Epigraph[]

"Yet the memory would not set into the setting sun, that green and frozen glance to the wide blue sea where broken hearts are wrecked out of their wounds. A blind sky bleached white the intellect of human bone, skinning the emotions from the fracture to reveal the grief underneath. And the mirror reveals me, a naked and vulnerable fact."
—Dambudzo Marechera, Black Sunlight


Plot[]

Prologue[]

A Cray hunter and his tamed squid are on the outskirts of the Salkrikaltor Cray Commonwealth, at the edge of a granite plateau above a deep abyss, hunting mackerel. He senses the movement of stones and thaumaturical wash from deep underwater, and tries to catch sight of it. The Cray hunter manages to see something move a large boulder, followed by many unclear things that slip out of the depression in the abyss. Although he tries to keep silent, he slips and makes a sound, alerting the creatures to him.

Part One: Channels[]

Chapter One[]

The Terpsichoria sails eastward to the Iron Bay, travelling from New Crobuzon to Nova Esperium. Bellis Coldwine is onboard, having claimed knowledge of the cray language in order to serve as an interpreter for the ship's diplomatic visit to the Salkrikaltor Cray Commonwealth. When the ship stops at the port in Iron Bay, Bellis attempts to have her diary mailed off to someone in New Crobuzon, but is informed to her displeasure that the ship will be departing tomorrow. In the middle of the night, before the ship departs Iron Bay, the Remade prisoners are brought on board, including Tanner Sack.

Chapter Two[]

The Terpsichoria makes a port call at Qé Banssa on Dancing Bird Island. Bellis meets a few of the other passengers, including Johannes Tearfly, a naturalist and expert on wildlife. In the hold below the deck, where the Remade are, the cabin boy Shekel makes friends with Tanner, and the two bond over telling stories.

Chapter Three[]

Shortly after departing Qé Banssa, the ship detours from its route and passes several secret New Crobuzon rigs moored at the edge of Salkrikaltor's territory. The following morning, they arrive at Salkrikaltor City. The ship's captain, Myzovic, requests that Bellis prepare to board the submersible that will take them to meet the cray representatives.

Chapter Four[]

The meeting with the Cray representatives goes smoothly, until Myzovic asks what has happened third rig, the Sorghum, and its escorts. The Cray do not know, much to the captain's displeasure. At the end of the meeting, the Cray inform the captain that they have a representative from New Crobuzon who wishes to travel on the Terpsichoria - Silas Fennec. After Fennec hands the captain a letter, the two talk privately until Myzovic leaves in anger. After they return to the surface, Bellis asks the captain's second-in-command, Lieutenant Commander Cumbershum if she can place her diary in the captains' storehouse in Salkrikaltor, but Cumbershum enigmatically informs her that that won't be necessary. Bellis goes to sleep concerned.

Chapter Five[]

In the morning, Myzovic announces that the ship will be returning to New Crobuzon, much to the passengers' outrage and Bellis's subdued panic. However, despite Fennec's displeasure, Myzovic commands the Terpsichoria to search for the Sorghum. Several hours later, the Terpsichoria is attacked and captured by Armadan pirates, led by Uther Doul. Myzovic and his second-in-command, Cumbershum, are executed. The rest of the passengers, crew, and Remade are brought to Armada.

Interlude I: Elsewhere[]

Unclear things move through a Cray village, interrogating the inhabitants. Unable to locate their quarry, they split into two groups - one that will wait in Iron Bay, and another that will pursue a possible trail into deeper water.

Interlude II: Bellis Coldwine[]

Bellis reflects on her introduction to Armada, the leaders of Garwater — and by extension Armada — the Lovers, and the Armadans' bureaucratic process of cataloging and sorting the passengers and crew.

Part Two: Salt[]

Chapter Six[]

Several weeks pass have passed. Tanner Sack has become one of the divers who maintains Armada's complex, submerged infrastructure. Bellis adjusts to her new assigned home in the Chromolith and to her new life as a librarian in the Grand Gears Library. The bureaucracy, unusual for what she thinks of as pirates, and the mishmash of cultures and races on Armada, similar and yet so different from New Crobuzon, surprise her. Her erstwhile fellow passengers have all found new occupations, and she has made friends with Shekel. At the end of one of her shifts, Johannes comes to the library to ask her to meet him at a restaurant in Garwater, the Unrealized Time.

Chapter Seven[]

The next day, Uther Doul is training with Armada's Scabmettlers on the Therianthropus, Shaddler riding, learning their mortu crutt techniques and comparing them to his own. His practice is interrupted by Brucolac, who cryptically express his displeasure of his employers' scheme. Meanwhile, Tanner is, for the first time since his Remaking in New Crobuzon, coming to terms with his modifications — two squid-like tentacles that hang from his chest and require salt water. He eats lunch with Shekel, who recounts his visits to the library, and the two discuss Hedrigall, one of the more storied Cactacae on Armada, and their new lives. In the evening, Bellis meets with Johannes, and at first they discuss the process of integrating into Armada, before the conversation moves onto Johannes's work, alongside a renowned hunter and scholar named Tintinnabulum, whose group of skilled hunters is housed in the Castor. Both acknowledge that the Terpsichoria was targeted specifically for what Johaness could contribute to Armada's project. Ultimately, Johannes is happy with his place on Armada and Bellis leaves the restaurant feeling alone in her discomfort.

Chapter Eight[]

Bellis wakes the next morning, becoming used to the floating city's movements. She meets with Shekel for coffee, and the two discuss their lives on Armada and talk about Tintinnabulum, his men, and his Remade assistant, Angevine, whom Shekel is romantically interested in. In the afternoon, Bellis is invited out to lunch by her fellow librarian, Carrianne. Carrianne tells Bellis about how she came to Armada, the various ridings, and her life on Dry Fall riding under the vampir. When she returns to the library, Bellis is determined to discover what the Lovers' plans are. As time passes, Shekel is spending more and more time with Angevine while Tanner continues to adjust to his new life on Armada. As Tanner talks with his workmates, he begins to wonder what the secret project that everyone seems to be working on is. That evening, Shekel and Angevine spend the night together.

Chapter Nine[]

Shekel asks Bellis to teach him how to read, and she checks out a book for him, which touches him deeply. That evening, Bellis writes in her diary again, recounting her attempts to understand Armada's secret project by reading through Johannes's published books. As she writes, Silas Fennec comes to visit and the two begin to talk. Fennec reveals that he goes by the name "Simon Fench" on Armada. He tells her that he is a traveling trader and recounts his travels to High Cromlech and beyond. When Bellis asks Fennec about his time in the Gengris, he claims that he was forced to flee, and that his crippled submarine was picked up on the outskirts of Salkrikaltor while he was trying to return to New Crobuzon. Bellis senses he is hiding something, but the topic of conversation changes and Fennec spends the rest of the night recounting his travels to her. When Fennec leaves in the morning, Bellis thinks to herself that it has been a long time since she had such a conversation.

Chapter Ten[]

The next morning, Tanner goes to The Clockhouse Spur riding, where back-alley thaumaturges and doctors live. He goes to the Duneroller and asks to be Remade again so that he can spend more time in the sea, where he feels he belongs. Meanwhile, Shekel is in another lesson with Bellis when Tintinnabulum and Angevine arrive to request that Bellis and the rest of the librarians keep an eye out for the books on his list. Later, Angevine and Shekel spend more time together. Shekel continues to be engrossed in learning how to read.

Chapter Eleven[]

Silas Fennec and Bellis meet again that evening, and they attend an arena fight in Shaddler, where Bellis realizes Silas is taking in every detail and bit of information about the city. They watch the scabmettlers and then Uther Doul fight in matches, where Doul displays his unparalleled skill. Later, Bellis and Silas return to her quarters. Bellis tells Fennec about why she left New Crobuzon after the "Midsummer Nightmare" and her previous relationship with Isaac Dan der Grimnebulin. Before Silas departs that evening, he and Bellis kiss.

Chapter Twelve[]

The next day is New Year's Eve, at least in New Crobuzon, and Bellis is homesick. During the day, Bellis and Silas walk through Croom Park on the edge of Garwater. As they sit in the shade of Armada's trees, Bellis takes a look at Silas's notebook, filled with sketches and details and notes of his time in the Gengris, along with sketches of machinery, tunnels, and crosshatched marks on parts of his map. Meanwhile, Tanner undergoes surgery to be Remade again — this time, the chirurgeon is kind and skilled, although the process is complex and laborious. After a full day, when Tanner is able to walk again, he begins adjusting to his new, amphibious life.

Chapter Thirteen[]

Bellis and Silas continue to spend the nights together, although Silas often disappears for days at a time. Bellis begins to explore Armada, taking in details and attempting to learn more about the secret project. When Silas returns, he tells Bellis about what he has learned, and that the Sorghum was taken to mine massive quantities thaumaturgy-enhancing rockmilk for some grand, still unknown purpose. Silas entrusts Bellis with the reason he was fleeing the Gengris: he had information about plans for a Grindylow invasion of New Crobuzon, and wanted to get them back as soon as possible. Bellis is shocked, and agrees to figure out a way to help him.

Chapter Fourteen[]

Months pass, and Armada continues to sail. Tanner is continues to work underwater, assisted by his gills. For the sake of Shekel and Angevine's happiness, he offers to help Angevine modernize her engine and reduce her reliance on coal. Shekel continues to make reading progress, much to his pleasure. One day, Tanner tries to help fend off a dinichthys attack and glimpses something under the city, which he mentions to Shekel. The next day, Shekel hands Bellis a book he has found by Kruach Aum — the central book in Tintinnabulum's search. As she pages through the book and reads about Kruach Aum's efforts, she comes across an image of concentric circles. Shekel tells her about the attack and what Tanner saw: a massive bridle with chains the size of boats. At the same time, Bellis realizes what the page in Kruach Aum's book depicts — an eye.

Interlude III: Elsewhere[]

The mysterious hunters are in Salkrikaltor, where they watch and wait and gather information. They skillfully and quietly interrogate the Cray translator and the divers working on New Crobuzon's rigs. The hunters learn about Armada. They believe this is where their quarry could be, and they begin asking the whales and fish to help them find it.

Part Three: The Compass Factory[]

Chapter Fifteen[]

Bellis tells Silas what she has discovered: that Armada is raising an avanc, and recounts the story she has read. Meanwhile, Tanner is recovering from the shock of the dinichthys attack — still, he makes good on his promise to fix Angevine's engine, and after several hours the work is done. In Dry Fall riding, bordering the deserted haunted quarter, Uther Doul and the Brucolac discuss the Lovers' plan to find the Scar. The Brucolac reiterates his refusal to allow the plan to come to fruition.

Chapter Sixteen[]

As Armada sails to the island of the anophelii, scores of miles south of Gnurr Kett, Bellis and Silas begin plotting how to get back to New Crobuzon — a difficult problem, especially when escapees are executed. They decide to remove several pages of calculations from the back of Kruach Aum's book to force the city to travel to the anophelii island, where they can find a boat to courier their letter back to New Crobuzon. Later, she and Silas have planned, Bellis meets with Johannes on the deck of the Shadeskinner and reveals that she knows about the avanc. Johannes is incredibly enthuastic about the Lovers' plan. Bellis feigns support for Armada as she reveals her ability to read High Kettai, the sole language used by the anophelii, and gives Johannes Aum's damaged book.

Chapter Seventeen[]

It is summer in Armada, and there is a meeting in a hull of the Castor: Johannes, the Lovers, Tintinnabulum and his group, and the rest of the scientists, mathematicians, and thaumaturges working on the avanc project discuss an expedition to the island of the anophelii. Despite Doul's reservations, the Lovers agree to send a group. As a candidate for this expedition, Bellis is brought to Garwater's flagship, the Grand Easterly, where the male Lover interrogates her on her knowledge of High Kettai and her thoughts on Armada. When the interrogation is over, Bellis reflects on her relationship with Silas. Shortly after, the Lovers decide to announce their plans with the avanc. Meanwhile, Tintinnabulum is examining Angevine's new engine, Impressed with the quality of work, he decides to bring Tanner along on their expedition.

Chapter Eighteen[]

Discontent with the Lovers' plan is growing in Armada, and Curhouse riding newspapers, like The Flag and Council's Call, first raise doubts and then more strident objections. At a meeting at the Basilio docks, Tanner is formally selected to go to the anophelii island and briefed later that night. Meanwhile, the Brucolac and councilors of Curhouse riding are holding a meeting in the Uroc. There is a full night of fruitless discussion — the name Simon Fench is raised, multiple unworkable ideas are put forward, and the Brucolac realizes he can only sit and wait, too reflexively intimidating to contribute meaningfully. Growing tired of the bickering, the Brucolac ends the meeting and forces the councilors to depart. As they leave, the Brucolac privately reflects on the relationship between vampir and the living, and thinks that, despite his fearsome reputation on Armada, he is grateful that he is no longer in High Cromlech and desperately hopes never to return.

Chapter Nineteen[]

The morning after Armada's announcement about the summoning of the avanc, Bellis reflects that she is hearing the name Simon Fench with increasing regularity. Everyday, Bellis is grilled on her knowledge of High Kettai and answers questions about her translation, its grammar, and word choice; in the afternoons and evenings she walks through the streets of Armada, through Croom Park and the Sculpture Garden, where she wonders how the ships of Armada find their way back. She meets with Silas again, and they discuss their plan. Despite their previous affections and their joint conspiracy, Bellis realizes she has no feelings for Silas and does not entirely trust him. As Bellis continues to attend meetings, Armada is constructing an airship, the Trident, for the journey.

Chapter Twenty[]

That night, a man makes his way to the waterline of the Grand Easterly. After entering a service hatch in the massive ship's disused engine room, he unwraps a small, monstrous statue and kisses it, feeling its power flow into him. The man makes his way through the ship. With strange powers, he bends the space around him to avoid guards, navigate the halls, and to sneak through the locks of doors. Making his way to the compass factory, he steals one of the compasses that allow Armada's ships to find their way back.

Interlude IV: Elsewhere[]

The mysterious hunters are now in unfamiliar, tropical waters. They force whales to act as guides in their journey south and, although many whales die, the hunters push forward. They continue to follow the trail.

Part Four: Blood[]

Chapter Twenty-one[]

The Trident makes the journey to the island of the anophelii, carrying a pen of sheep and pigs along with the other passengers. With nothing else to do, Bellis writes in her diary: she saw the female Lover dressing, and found her scars disturbing and bereft of any deeper meaning; that morning, Silas secretly delivered the package — a leather bag containing letters and incentives for the eventual courier, and a signet ring to seal the box with; later, Uther Doul told her the history of the Lovers, how they came to Armada, and the meaning of their scars, called freggios. Bellis notes in her diary how the three most powerful people in Armada are outsiders and wonders what Doul's own motivations are. Finally, she notes that, despite Doul's explanation of Lovers and their freggios, the scars are ugly and unpleasant, and that nothing changes that.

Chapter Twenty-two[]

Thirty-six hours after the Trident departed Armada, it finally approaches the island. The crew and passengers watch the land as they skirt over the perimeter of the island — except for some sheep, recently delivered by Dreer Samheer traders, it is devoid of animal life. They disembark on machinery beach — a beach composed entirely of various cogs, wheels, springs, and engines, some the size of large boulders and others as small as a grain of sand. They journey, cautiously and anxiously, from the beach to the male anophelii village; the pigs and sheep they have brought with them are used as bait for the female anophelii, who live in the island's swamps. Despite one close call, they make it to the village as the she-anophelii, recently fed, return to the jungle.

Chapter Twenty-three[]

The expedition reaches the male anophelii village, a collection of square dwellings connected with wires and powered by heliotropic engines, chiseled steps and pathways, and submerged chambers cut and built into the sides of a gorge. Although the anophelii cannot speak High Kettai, they can read it fluently, and Bellis is able to make introductions. As they talk, a Dreer Samheer pirate, Nurjhitt Senka, captain of the Tetneghi Dustheart, enters the meeting hall and interrupts them; Doul talks to him while Tintinnabulum asks Bellis to continue talking to the anophelii. Their representative agrees to bring them to Kruach Aum.

Chapter Twenty-Four[]

As the human Armadans are confined to makeshift barracks for their safety, Tanner Sack misses the sea, though he is grateful to Hedgrigall for giving him sea water for his tentacles. The Armadans adjust to their confined living quarters at night, leaving only during the day under cactacae guard to move to their work building. The engineers and scientists spend their days and evening talking with Aum and other he-anophelii, with Bellis as their translator. One day, Doul stops by to talk with Bellis, who tells him about the plight of the she-anophelii, which she has learned; in turn, he lets her examine the Possible Sword that he carries, but gives no details.

Chapter Twenty-five[]

As the days pass, Bellis and the other scientists live a life under siege. In the evenings, they talk about different things, including rumors about Doul's origins. Doul talks with Bellis again; he indicates that they will soon be able to leave the island, and that the avanc is simply the first step in the Lovers' larger plan. The next day their work is almost complete. However, their joy is tempered by the death of a careless engineer, drained to a husk by the she-anophelii. Bellis begins to worry about how to deliver Silas's package to New Crobuzon before they leave. As the expedition finalizes their research, they invite Aum to come with them on a one-way trip to Armada, off of the island. That evening, Bellis sees the female Lover with fresh scars. As the two look at each other, Bellis feels that there is a vast gulf between her and them.

Chapter Twenty-six[]

Later that night, Bellis wakes and makes a half-hearted attempt to leave the shelter, to find someone to give her package to. Although Tanner catches her, she is able to somewhat hide her actions. That day, Captain Sengka attempts to prevent the Armadans from taking Aum with them — in response, Doul demonstrates his martial acuity and intimidates them into backing off. Tanner remains curious about what Bellis had been attempting. When he confronts her that night, she tells him what Silas has told her, and convinces him to help her save New Crobuzon. Tanner agrees to help her deliver the package to the Dreer Samheer crews anchored on the island.

Interlude V: Tanner Sack[]

Tanner takes the package. Although the Dreer Samheer crews are anchored miles away by land, it is only a few meters to the water; using his new Remaking, he swims deep. He delivers it to Captain Sengka, who agrees to courier it despite his own reservations, and seals the package with Silas's signet ring. Tanner begins the journey back to the shelter. In the water, he discards the ring and contemplates his place in the sea.

Interlude VI: Elsewhere[]

The hunters' whales are dead in the warm waters of the southern ocean. The hunters can taste the oil, flint, and rockmilk of the Sorghum's activities on Armada, but the waters here do not make sense to them, and they have no other sea life they can call upon for help. Although they chase the minute tastes and sensations of their quarry, they cannot find its trail.

Part Five: Storms[]

Chapter Twenty-seven[]

After returning to Armada, Bellis writes in her diary: the delivery of the package still makes her uneasy and she and Tanner avoid each other's eyes; Aum is taking in the sights and technologies of Armada with fascination and excitement, though he still cannot understand spoken language; as Bellis was watching over Aum, Doul approached her and told her a little about his life in High Cromlech and a little about the nature of the Possible Sword. That night, Bellis, Tintinnabulum, Aum, the Lovers, the head researchers, and the leadership of Armada's ridings gather in a senate meeting on the Grand Easterly to discuss the avanc. It becomes apparent to Bellis that the plan, whatever it is, will go ahead at the Lovers' behest. Doul, the Brucolac, and Bellis remain behind after everyone has left. When the Brucolac confronts Doul over the Lovers' plan, Doul reminds him of his place in High Cromlech and on Armada. The Brucolac leaves and, shortly after, Doul and Bellis leave too.

Chapter Twenty-eight[]

The storm hits Armada, and as the city usually does, it unhitches the rope bridges that connect the boats and shuts down for the duration. When Doul meets with Bellis again, he warns her that there's a worse storm to come — Bellis believes that he must be referring to the storm necessary to call up the avanc. Aum continues to learn how to read and speak Salt, and Bellis has been assigned to help him. Meanwhile, Tanner contemplates his delivery, and feels relieved that he was able to save his former friends in New Crobuzon. Work continues on the avanc's harness and summoning engines with the help of Aum; it is a grand effort that involves almost all of the city's industries and many thaumaturges on a massive scale. The hexes around the chains at the bottom of Armada are undone and Tanner realizes that this has been tried before, sometime in Armada's distant, forgotten past. The Sorghum begins drilling again for substances.

Chapter Twenty-nine[]

Bellis has supper with Carrianne — in the wake of the confrontation between Doul and the Brucolac, she asks Carrianne about Dry Fall riding and the gore tax. When Bellis returns to her lodgings, Silas is waiting for her. He is unhappy that she entrusted Tanner Sack to deliver the package, and although he eventually calsm down, he refuses to believe that Tanner dropped the signet ring into the ocean, and accuses Tanner of having some ulterior motive. When he leaves Bellis's room that night, he kisses his small, monstrous statue, takes in the new angles and energies that it allows him to see and use, and begins to search.

Chapter Thirty[]

Armada continues its city-wide effort to prepare for the avanc's summoning and Shekel reflects on the incorporation of the Terpsichoria into Armada. With Bellis's help, Aum learns Salt at an amazing rate. Bellis begins to feel that he has no personality, just child-like fascination, and she is relieved that she will soon no longer need to accompany him. One day, Doul speaks with Bellis about his native language, Quiesy, and tells her a bit more about himself. After they talk, he shows her a hidden place on the Grand Easterly where she can hear the Lovers in private. Hearing them, she is appalled, and realizes that what they think is love is not at all.

Chapter Thirty-one[]

During the day, Shekel makes his living running messages, errands, and goods. He spends half his evenings with Angevine, who berths in Tintinnabulum's Castor. Tanner, whom Shekel rooms with, is also busy on the project. On the nights that Shekel is alone in their shared berthing, he senses that someone else is present, and although objects seem to have been moved in small ways, he can never find them. When Shekel meets with Angevine, she mentions that discontent with the avanc project is rising. Meanwhile, Bellis walks in Croom Park with Johannes, whose work is beginning to wind down now that he is no longer needed, much to his displeasure. Throughout her days, Bellis begins hearing the same names pop up, including the name Simon Fench, Silas's alias. Eafter to find him, she begins to ask around for him. After a few days, Silas suddenly appears in her lodgings, and she talks with him about the Lovers' bigger plans for avanc. Bellis's doubts about the project and her place on Armada continue to grow, and through her talks with Doul and meetings with the Lovers, her opinion hardens: she cannot stand to stay on Armada.

Chapter Thirty-two[]

Armada arrives at a sinkhole between the Swollen Ocean and the Black Sandbar Sea, one and a half miles wide, and stretching down for countless miles, so deep that reality is unstable at its lower reaches. Although no announcement is made, rumors and guesswork spread throughout the city, and everyone knows that the avanc is going to be summoned. On the day of the planned summoning, Armada is uneasy - the storm necessary to generate the many lightning elementals, fulmen, that will act as bait will be larger than any storm Armada has weathered before. After several hours of nothing, it becomes clear that the first attempt has not worked and although there is no announcement of what has happened, the city relaxes. Two days pass, and, again without announcement, a great storm suddenly gathers above Armada as the metereomancing engines and thaumaturges do their work; Bellis watches as the fulmen are channeled into the wires that lead down into the abyss. Below the city, Tanner watches as this energy is pumped down; after a long silence, he hears the bolts and pins on the quarter-mile long bridle snap into place, and hears a lazy booming of some massive appendage on the continental shelf far below him — the avanc has been summoned and harnessed. After a short wait, the city begins moving faster than it ever has before, and the Armada's fleet of untethered ships hurries to catch up with it. Around Bellis, the city erupts in cheers and delight.

Interlude VII: Basilisk Channel[]

Captain Nurjhitt Sengka's Tetneghi Dustheart has been at sea for over four weeks, beset by storms and flying wildlife as it makes the journey to Iron Bay. The day after his meeting with Tanner Sack, Captain Nurjhitt Sengka had ordered his crew to depart from the anophelli island for New Crobuzon. Although his crew is unhappy and tired, they are now finally approaching the coast. Sengka carries the package, with its New Crobuzon seal, that contains the offer of a reward which will be honored, a melodramatic warning of war written in meaningless code, and, hidden in a compartment at the bottom of the box, a small round disk and a long dispatch written in tiny handwriting.

Interlude VIII: Elsewhere[]

The hunters sense that the sea has changed, and that something new has entered Bas-Lag — something that does not operate according to the physics of the world. The hunters can taste the new thing's particles, but cannot track it. The hunters receive messages from the Gengris and their fellows in Iron Bay, carried by thaumaturgic bubbles: a fleet of ships has left New Crobuzon, tracking Armada with a mechanical device. The hunters left in Iron Bay are following the ships, and the other hunters, deeper in the ocean, move to join their fellows and follow the ships to their quarry.

Part Six: Morning Walker[]

Chapter Thirty-three[]

Armada travels much faster now with the avanc, toward some unknown destination in the north. Despite initial celebration, discontent is growing as people demand to know where the Lovers are taking them. Tintinnabulum and his crew have left on the Castor, now that their work is finished, and Angevine tells Shekel that they did not want to go where the Lovers are going. Tanner talks with Hedrigall, who voices his concerns about Armada's direction. Bellis talks with Johannes, who is also now out of work — they talk about New Crobuzon and whether Nova Esperium realizes that they've never arrived. That same evening, Bellis meets with Uther Doul, who continues to talk with her and tell her stories. She cannot figure out what exactly he wants — she senses that although she is attracted to him, there is some other component besides the desire for a relationship that shapes his thinking. Meanwhile, the man continues to use his statue, watching the true rumors that he has laid spread around the city and sow discontent. Sometimes he dives deep under water or explores the haunted quarter, and though it is inhabited by presences they do not trouble him. He feels like the statue's lover.

Chapter Thirty-four[]

Prior to obtaining the Sorghum, Armada had to carefully ration its oil; now it is flush with oil and, more importantly, rockmilk, used to feed and control the avanc. Tanner, Shekel, and Angevine sit together on the Dober, talking; Angevine misses working with Tintinnabulum, who she had been assigned to assist shortly after she was brought onto Armada. Bellis talks more with Doul in his quarters onboard the Grand Easterly — although he refuses to talk about the time after he left High Cromlech, he does tell her about the art of using a possible sword and his research into the Ghosthead Empire, their home, their arrival on Bas-Lag, and their possibility sciences that allowed them to rule for hundreds of years. He shows her some of the artifacts he has collected, including his Perhapsadian. Doul claims that he came to Armada to rest after years of leading expeditions in pursuit of Ghosthead artifacts, secure as a hired sword instead of a leader. He hints to Bellis that the Lovers are after a possibility seam left by the Ghosthead, of which only two are known: the Fractured Land and the Scar, and of which only the Scar is feasible to travel to.

Chapter Thirty-five[]

Bellis meets with Silas Fennec — it has been difficult for her to track him, and he is troubled that she was able to find him in his meeting place, in the The Pashakan. To his further surprise, she tells him what Doul has told her, and asks him to help stop the Lovers' journey. Silas apologizes to her for his rudeness, but she tells him that they owe each other nothing, and that they are not friends, merely people with shared interests. She leaves, and Silas waits in the pub for other contacts, thinking of summer in New Crobuzon. Eventually he leaves and goes to his lodgings next to the Drudgery, where meets Hedgrigall. That same night, the Brucolac calls a discrete meeting with his ab-dead lieutenants. He tells them that they can only hope Silas Fennec is successful in sowing discontent against the Lovers. If he fails, they must be ready to take the city by force.

Chapter Thirty-six[]

Bellis continues to listen for word of Fench's pamphlet; some nights, she listens secretly to the lovers - she has realized that the female Lover is the more committed to the project. Five days after meeting Silas Fennec, Bellis is present when the lookouts announce that Armada is under attack. All of Armada's inhabitants prepare for war - including Tanner, who is below the sea with the rest of the city's aquatic forces. Doul gathers Armada's officers, as well as Bellis, on the deck of the Grand Easterly; as they meet, the New Crobuzon flagship, Morning Walker, requests a parley. The Armadans refuse - if they can be found now, New Crobuzon can find them again unless they destroy the fleet. Doul descends from the deck, and Bellis remains on top with the Lovers, who soon depart to fight separately. Hidden in space behind her is Silas Fennec, who has told New Crobuzon to send marines to find him on the Grand Easterly. The battle is bloody, and Tanner sack watches from below as the Armadan ships and airships hurry to get into range while the New Crobuzon fleet bombards them with gunfire, shells, and war golems. As he destroys some of New Crobuzon's nautilus submersibles, he sees curious dark things pass below him, though he does not know what they are.

On the Grand Easterly, Bellis watches with conflicting feelings as Crobuzoner ships deliberately make their way to Armada's flagship, as they deploy their marines and face the Armadan defenders in combat. When Doul enters the fray, she watches for the first time as he activates and uses his Possible Sword to cut swathes through the defenders. As his erstwhile rescuers retreat, Silas watches as Armada's tugs-turned-fireships steam toward the Crobuzoner fleet — though he has told New Crobuzon everything about Armada's forces, he overlooked the tugs which are now wearing down the fleet with sheer numbers. The New Crobuzon fleet retreats — its large warships and its coal reserves have been sunk, and Silas realizes that there is no hope of him returning. By the time the Brucolac and his cadre wake to fight, the battle is over.

Chapter Thirty-seven[]

In the days following the battle, the scale of devastation on Armada becomes clear.; many ships in the city have been damaged, a few have been sunk, and thousands have died, including several members of the Curhouse council and the queen of Jhour riding. Bellis digs for information about the other Terpsichoria passengers - there is conflicting information about the Cardomiums, some of the imprisoned Terpsichoria crewmen had cried out to the Crobuzoner boarders for rescue, unheard, Sister Meriope, heavily pregnant, was killed running into a firefight. Armada has captured several New Crobuzon warships, but lost half of its steamers, the Trident, and many airships. Armada is flooded with New Crobuzon prisoners who should be made citizens, as is tradition, even thought their numbers place a strain on resources. However, word spreads that the Lovers intend to cast them out and a meeting is called. The female Lover makes her argument for the execution of prisoners, but centuries of tradition prevail and it is agreed that the process of integrating the prisoners will begin. As the city slowly recovers, people begin to ask questions that beget more questions, about the attack and about Armada's destination. On the second day after the fighting, Bellis realizes the truth — why and how the New Crobuzon navy found them. That night, Tanner Sack knocks on Bellis's door, and she opens it to find him wounded from fighting and pointing a gun at her. She thinks to herself that if he pulled the trigger, she would not blame him.

Chapter Thirty-eight[]

Tanner is furious at Bellis — furious that he was swimming in blood, that he was killing men like him, and that if New Crobuzon had won he'd be a slave again, and he is furious that Shekel was injured. Bellis explains herself to Tanner: that she was on the Terpsichoria because she was running from New Crobuzon, that she'd been used, and that she was furious at Fennec for using her — when she gave Tanner that package, she did not know it would call down New Crobuzon upon Armada. Tanner believes her, and Bellis later realizes that it was her rage at being used that convinced him. She tries to figure out why New Crobuzon would come for Fennec. As the sun begins to rise, they decide to tell Uther Doul.

Chapter Thirty-nine[]

Bellis thinks about her journey; she is in chains beside Tanner Sack, behind Uther Doul, who is addressing the city's convened rulers - the rebuilt Curhouse Council, the Lovers, and all the others. Trader-King Friedrich calls for Doul to explain how Fennec got ahold of a lodestone, a compass used to track Armada; Doul does not know, but states that the first matter is tracking down Simon Fench/Silas Fennec. Here, the Brucolac speaks for the first time in the meeting: he knows where Fennec stays in the haunted quarter, though he had not realized what Fennec would do; the Brucolac then volunteers his cadre to capture Fennec as kind of penance for giving him shelter and for not being able to shed blood defending the city; Doul refuses, and states that he and his men will capture Fennec. As the senate discusses the details of the capture - how to deal with the things that inhabit the haunted quarter, its geography, Bellis speaks; she believes that Fennec stole something from the grindylow, that this is how he was able to steal a compass, and perhaps what New Crobuzon was seeking. After the meeting is over, Doul leads her and Tanner to their prison cells in the warren of tunnels that riddle the Grand Easterly; Bellis asks for Doul to not punish Tanner, but he only mocks her and leaves.

Later that night, Fennec is making his way back to the Wordhoard when he is ambushed by Doul and his men. Silas kisses the statue and uses its strange powers to defend himself and flee; with the help of the Brucolac, Doul detains Silas. As Garwater yeomen lay dying from his unnatural abilities, Fennec is hauled away. The citizens at the edges of Dry Fall and Thee-And-Thine listen to the screams emanating from the haunted quarter.

Chapter Forty[]

Uther Doul visits Bellis in her cell. He shows her the Magus Fin that they've taken from Fennec, and tells her what it allowed him to do; they decide that New Crobuzon must have been after it, and that is way they sent half their fleet around the world for it. Doul tells Bellis that Fennec had a variety of names on Armada, and acknowledges that Bellis and Tanner did not deliberately lead New Crobuzon to the city. Bellis tells Doul about her letter: it is a letter to someone she hasn't chosen yet. At the end of their conversation, Doul tells Bellis that she has been judged, and that he has protected her and Tanner from execution; she must choose her sentence: either ten years in prison, or time served plus lashes. After he leaves, Bellis writes one more line in her journal for that day. She has chosen to be flogged.

Interlude IX: The Brucolac[]

At night, the Brucolac moves through Armada, taking in the sights of his city. As he approaches the Uroc, he senses that something new has come. He enters his berth to find intruders, smelling like brine and river coagulate and fishgut blood, waiting for him. They have left an offering of blood on the floor; they want to talk to him, to barter. They want to retrieve something that was stolen from them, and in return, they can slow the avanc's journey to the Scar. The intruders and the Brucolac continue to talk, even into the minutes before the sun rises.

Part Seven: The Lookout[]

Chapter Forty-one[]

For several days, Bellis is bedridden as she recovers from her lashings and subsequent fever. When she is ready, Uther Doul helps her home; as she looks over her injuries, he tells her that the fleet is having inexplicable troubles: Armada has entered the Hidden Ocean, and its strange properties are being felt everywhere. Bellis desperately tries to spread the word about Armada's location: she meets with a grudging Tanner Sack, as well as Shekel and Angevine; despite the pain from her wounds, she talks to Carriane at the Grand Gears and asks her to look for Johannes Tearfly; when the three meet, she tells them about Armada's destination, only to find that the Lovers have made the official announcement to Armada. Many of Aramda's ships cannot keep up - they will wait for the city at the edge of the Hidden Ocean, along with an airship of citizens who do not want to make the journey. Bellis realizes now that all the subterfuge of Simon Fench will change nothing - with the truth out and accepted, the Lovers have simply argued their point and won.

Chapter Forty-two[]

The Arrogance has disappeared from the top of the Grand Easterly, along with Hedrigall — his disappearance unsettles everyone aboard Armada. As Tanner contemplates his feelings of betrayal at Hedrigall's apparent cowardice, he imagines the possible fates that could await the lone cactacae. The new waters are strange and the various rumors that are spreading through Armada are unsettling, so Tanner teaches Shekel to swim in the pools between Armada's vessels, now empty of ships, as a way to work off the fear. Meanwhile, Bellis visits Fennec in his cell, but Silas rebukes her for thinking that talking to him will give her closure or resolution — he tells her that he merely used her, as he used innumerable other people. After he tells her to leave, Bellis departs with hardly a word. Meanwhile, Hedrigall's disappearance exacerbates the existing discontent aboard the ship, and Carriane and Bellis can tell that Armada's collective opinion of their journey is changing. Adding to their troubles, the avanc is beginning to inexplicably slow, and Johannes and Aum are enlisted again to determine the cause. Soon, strange stinking slicks of a pale yellow substance begin to appear in the water around the city — it is not long before Johannes realizes that these are massive gobs of pus.

Chapter Forty-three[]

The avanc has stopped: for reasons unknown, it is no longer responding to the rockmilk signals being sent by Armada's engineers. At the Lovers' orders, a bathysphere, the Ctenophore, is prepared. Johannes, Aum, and a scabmettler pilot, Chion, board the submersible to descend into the depths and diagnose and cure whatever is ailing the avanc. As Bellis watches, the bathysphere descends into the dark. Inside the submersible, Johannes, Aum, and Chion located the back of the avanc — they follow the ridges and grooves until they sight cuts on its surface, deep fissures leaking massive pools of blood. As they investigate, they are attacked by the unclear creatures injuring the avanc. Chion attempts to pull the submersible back, but it is held in place. As external light is extinguished and the glass portholes begin to crack, in the middle of the chaos, Johanne is absolutely alone.

Chapter Forty-four[]

Tanner and Shekel are swimming in the pools of water between ships, near the Ctenophore's cable tethered to the Hoddling. As they swim, something races by Tanner's field of vision, sinuous and quick. An instant later, Shekel vomits up blood, pierced through his back by something. Tanner grabs Shekel and surfaces in a panic. Onboard the Hoddling, the engineers have realized that something is wrong with the Ctenophore, and though they try to raise the submersible, they only succeed in pulling up the severed cable. Tanner continues to scream — futilely — for help.

As the Brucolac and his cadre begin to make their move, the things with vast, corpsy eyes and razor teeth burst from below the Hoddling, attacking the Armadan defenders with space-melting hexes. From the other side of the ship, the vampir join the fray and begin their mutiny. Doul is shouting orders and moving his men around as necessary, cutting down the vampir who cross his path. The other vampir put up a good fight, but are cut down by groups of defenders, dying in hails of bullets and flurries of swords. Even as the defenders move to counter the things in the water, Doul realizes that the Brucolac is after the Lovers.

Bellis, onboard the Grand Easterly, hears the Brucolac coordinating with the unknown attackers. She realizes who they are, and believes she knows what these strangers have come for. She grabs the Magus Fin from where Doul has put it, in his quarters, and runs to the Grand Easterly's brig. Meanwhile, the Brucolac confronts the Lovers. Doul appears to defend them. The two talk, and though the Brucolac attempts to sway Doul, he refuses: the conflict between Doul and the Brucolac is a conflict of values, and the Brucolac soon realizes that this can only be resolved through violence.

When Bellis finally reaches the brig, she finds the corridors empty — this was the agreement between the Brucolac and the intruders. She runs to Silas's cell and finds him crawling backward into one corner, like a child in terror. Following his line of vision, with cold shock, Bellis sees the grindylow, three of them. One is adorned with a mass of necklaces in stone and bone. Bellis attempts to give them the Magus Fin, only for the leader, a grindylow magus, to laugh: the statue is a minor thing, and not one worth crossing thousands of miles for. The real prize, they soon show her, is Silas's book — it holds a collection of information about every aspect of the grindylow and their defenses, as well as a geological survey for a potential canal that would allow New Crobuzon to bypass the Gengris. Silas attempts to negotiate, but he has nothing to offer them, so it is futile. In their own language, the grindylow declare Sila's sentence. As he screams in abject terror, they surround him in grotesque sort of of a hug, and the leader clamps his jaws over Sila's face, feeding him oxygen. With a hex, the magus warps the cell window and carries Silas off on the long journey back to the Gengris, alive.

As Bellis returns to the upper decks, she realizes that the battle is over. The Brucolac has been tied to a crossbar on the top of the Grand Easterly, left alive for the sun to torment.

Chapter Forty-five[]

Day breaks, and the Brucolac screams as the sun burns him. The nights only serve to prolong his pain, partially healing him just in time for the next sunrise. Armada continues to recover from the mutiny, and the remaining vampir are forced into hiding. AS the city licks its wounds, the Lovers give amnesty to the citizens of Dry Fall, although they do not trust the Lovers' mercy, and the Garwater yeomen now patrol the decks of Armada. Meanwhile, Angevine and Tanner mourn Shekel, and Bellis mourns Johannes, and to a degree, feels pathos for Aum. When the Lovers announce to Armada that they are close to the Scar, Bellis takes the time to tell Doul part of what has transpired with Fennec and the grindylow. When Bellis sees Tanner again, he gives her some of Shekel's papers in his memory. Shekel is buried in Croom Park, in a brief, clumsy, and poignant service.

In the days that follow, Armada begins to feel the effects of the Scar: gamblers notice their cards changing in their hands; dropped objects break, then are not broken, and then perhaps had not been dropped but placed on the side. The weather is bizarre and illogical, strange creatures emit sound and light deep under the city, and strange objects that appear simultaneously natural and manmade drift by. In this strange climate, Bellis begins to notice faint and cryptic music that appears and disappears, and on the second night she is sure that it is coming from Doul's room.

On the fifth morning, the lookouts spot something unusual on the waves: Hedrigall, clinging to a ragged wood and canvas raft. When he is brought aboard, he is confused and scared, claiming that he saw everyone die. In the cacaphony that follows, the Lovers order Hedrigall dragged off as Tanner Sack shoves his way to the front of the crowd and yells his protests. Doul gives Bellis a silent, implicit invitation to eavesdrop on what Hedgrigall will tell the Lovers. Tanner comes with her.

From the secret room adjacent to the Lovers' berth, Tanner and Bellis listen as Hedrigall recounts what happened to him. He claims that they had been more than a month in the Hidden Ocean.

Chapter Forty-six[]

Hedgrigall tells his tale to the Lovers, to Uther Doul, and to Bellis and Tanner, the secret eavesdroppers. He claims that as they approached the Scar, the avanc stopped responding to commands. Armada, he claims, was dragged off the edge of that crack in the world, down past the sheer water face on its edge, past the bedrock and the lava below it, into the dark, empty abyss at the very bottom. Hedrigall claims that it was only by luck that he was able to break the Arrogance free from the doomed city, and that he'd been floating for two days. Hearing his story, the Lovers are convinced that the story is clearly designed to cause panic, that they will bury it and continue on. However, Tanner is furious. He is thinking of Shekel. He tells Bellis that the Lover will bury nothing.

Chapter Forty-seven[]

Tanner Sack is known on Armada, loyal and respected. Bellis knows that when he tells people what he has heard, he will be respected. They gather Angevine and Tanner's workmates together, to tell them what they heard in that secret room. The people of Armada know this Hedrigall to be a nigh-Hedrigall, picked up from a sea of possibility even as their original, factual Hedrigall drifts off to an unknown fate.

As the Lovers stay below on the Grand Easterly, working out what to do, Tanner is spreading his story. When the Lovers finally emerge, they face a crowd with Tanner at its front. Even Doul demurs in the face of their numbers. The female Lover is outraged, and she asks the crowd if they think it's a coincidence that, out of the entire Hidden Ocean, they happen to come across a nigh-Hedgrigall after their own has run. Though her points are valid and her logic sways some, most remain in steadfast opposition — especially Tanner. And for the first time, cracks begin to show between the Lover and her partner, who voices his own concerns. At this new opposition, the female Lover is furious, but acquiesces. The Lovers discuss, briefly, their place on Armada and their differences. The female Lovers turns from him and begins to leave: she makes it clear that she will continue the journey on her own, without her partner.

The Armadans begin the slow process of turning the avanc away. In those hours, there is no one in command of Armada except for a spontaneous, rugged democracy. The other rulers remain silent and hidden. As Bellis looks around at what has transpired, she realizes that she has been used again, this time by Doul. Bellis watches the sun rise on the end of the celebration, standing in a doorway on the Grand Easterly. In those early hours, she sees the Lover depart, carrying a massive pack of Doul's possibility artifacts, including the perhapsadian. Doul walks with her through the streets of Armada, and Bellis sees that the Lover sports a new scar, one that shines brightly, covered with salve, and seems to push the other scars away.

Bellis does not know if the Lover made the journey alone. She imagines her passing the buildings and streets, gathering a small following of supporters. She imagines a small crew accompanying the Lover to help her cast off from the city that she had ruled for so long. As the sun rises, Bellis see the sail of a vessel pass out of Basilio Harbor, a craft with cranes and winches and strange engines, well-equipped and clean. The male Lover is watching.

Doul orders the Brucolac cut down, returned to Dry Fall. His order is obeyed. As Bellis looks out toward the horizon, she thinks of the Lover, and realizes that she does not know the woman's name.

Coda: Tanner Sack[]

Tanner imagines a letter to Shekel, recounting what has happened since he passed: he has been making friends with Angevine, reminiscing over Shekel's passing; Armada is turning around, thanks to Tanner; and he no longer feels like there's a place for him on Armada, nor does he feel like he belongs in the sea, though he will force himself to swim again and try and find his place. Tanner is thinking of leaving, and he will hold onto Shekel's memory — he does not want time to heal him.

Bellis writes in her diary: the avanc is dying, and Armada is heading back to the Swollen Ocean. The chains will be severed, and the reduced weight will make up for the vessels that were lost fighting against New Crobuzon, and Armada will be as it once was. The mutineers have relinquished control, bereft of vision for the city, and the Lover is once again issuing orders which everyone is happy to obey, though they know that the Lover is lost. Doul stands behind him, whispering careful suggestions. Bellis suspects that this will not continue, and that one day the Lover will be killed now that the Brucolac controls Dry Fall again. Doul, she suspects, either spends his life in complete control or in panicked fear — Bellis doubts that this is what Doul wanted. Bellis speculates on the fate of the female Lover. Perhaps she moored herself to the edge of the abyss and has extracted the energies to make herself a god; perhaps she fell in; perhaps there was nothing to fall into. Hedrigall is recovering in the bowels of the Grand Easterly, she is told, although she doubts that they have been told the truth about his nature. She comes to three possible answers:

  • Doul met with Hedrigall and hid him until the time was right for him to tell his story.
  • Fennec suggested that Hedrigall hide away, in case New Crobuzon's rescue failed. This would necessarily require Doul's cooperation as well.
  • The last, disturbing possibility — Hedrigall's story is true. His manner is not quite the same, his face is more, or less, scarred. He is a refugee from another world.

Even in the last case, though, Bellis doubts it was luck alone. She suspects that Doul was waiting for this Hedrigall, and that perhaps Doul played him into existence as Armada approached the Scar, the air growing rich with possibility. And then Bellis thinks on the chain of events — the chance that Doul could see her in the crowd, to invite her to eavesdrop on the Lovers and Hedrigall, and the fact that Tanner was beside her to come with her, and add credence to her story. She wonders if she is a nigh-Bellis, and if the fact-Bellis is dead, floating in the sea.

Though she has met Doul twice, he now has no interest in her, and she realizes that she will get no concrete answers. The second time she met him, Doul simply stated that he would take her back to New Crobuzon. Bellis realizes that this is her payment for her role in his actions. She reflects that enough time has passed that she can take a new name, and no longer be hunted. And if someone does rat her out, she is done running.

Now that Armada is heading back to the Swollen Ocean, she is done penning her letter — a Possible Letter, until she writes a name beside the "Dear". Perhaps she will address it Carrianne, her only friend on Armada, as a remembrance. Bellis resolves to no longer be used, she knows too much now. Reflecting on her travels and her growth, Bellis declares that, whoever the recipient, she will deliver her letter by hand.

Characters[]

Major Characters[]

Minor Characters[]

  • Carrianne - Bellis's close, and only, friend on Armada.
  • Captain Myzovic - The captain of the Terpischoria.
  • Lieutenant Commander Cumbershum - Myzovic's second-in-command.
  • Hedrigall - A Garwater loyalist and well-known figure on Armada.
  • Krüach Aum - An anophelii scholar who once successfully raised an avanc.
  • Sister Meriope - A nun from the Sisters of Dariaoch, onboard the Terpsichoria.

Awards[]

Nominated
2002 - Philip K. Dick Award
2003 - Arthur C. Clarke Award
2003 - Hugo Award for Best Novel
Won
2003 - British Fantasy Award for Best Novel

Translations[]

  • French - Les Scarifiés
  • German - Leviathan and Die Narbe
  • Czech - Jizva

See Also[]

External Links[]


China Miéville's novels and other works
The Bas-Lag Cycle

Perdido Street Station · The Scar · Iron council · "Jack"

Other novels

The City & the City · Embassytown · King Rat · Kraken · Railsea · Un Lun Dun

Novellas

The Last Days of New Paris · This Census-Taker · The Tain

Short story collections

The Apology Chapbook · Looking for Jake · Three Moments of an Explosion: Stories

Nonfiction

October: The Story of the Russian Revolution


Advertisement