Embassytown

EmbassytownEmbassytown by China Miéville

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Oh, this book. This book!



The only time I have for reading these days is about an hour a day before I go to sleep; so I have to be honest… after two days, I almost started this book over, thinking I must have been too tired to understand it. After four days, I almost put it aside, thinking that I am not a hoopy frood who knows where his towel is and am clearly too meshugganah to grok this literature.



I’m not a big fan of books that – and I’ve seen this more in fantasy than science fiction – without explanation of the term, throw in words that either don’t mean anything [in our time, now] but clearly do [in the setting of the book] or words that mean one thing [to us now] and something completely different [and, again, unexplained] in the book. Or words that are nouns, used as verbs. Get where I’m going with this? So I almost put it aside, because, Sweet Zombie Jesus. I’m not stupid but I am easily frustrated.



After about 100 pages (and I’ll pretty much give any book 100 pages, as that’s when most of them begin to hit their stride) I was hooked. I trusted the author, having enjoyed other books by him, and it totally paid off. By the time that the flashbacks stopped, and everything was being told as-is, going forward, I didn’t even want it to end. And in the end, even the beginning made sense; it’s all about language.



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One Comment

  1. Sonya May 3, 2012 8:56 am Reply

    “I’m not a big fan of books that – and I’ve seen this more in fantasy than science fiction – without explanation of the term, throw in words that either don’t mean anything [in our time, now] but clearly do [in the setting of the book] ”

    I agree with you completely and it’s one of the reasons that less-awesome-than-Tolkien fantasy authors often turn me off. However, I wonder if I’ve been doing this in my own series because since it’s set in Fake!Israel I’ve got some Hebrew words (like the queen mourning “Aba”, which means Daddy) thrown in there without explanation, and I don’t know whether using real-life foreign words that someone could google without explanation counts as the same thing. Because if someone doesn’t even know it’s a real word on Earth, just not an English one, it could be just as off-putting.

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