No Dark Magic

books, Sweden, and computers, not necessarily in any order

Embassytown by China Miéville

Posted at — Sep 20, 2019

This could’ve been the best thing since incompleteness theorems, but it wasn’t. The idea of two voices in a single being’s speech, the idea of somebody’s speech being (physically) a drug, the idea of teaching someone to lie in a language not suited for lies — they’re all intriguing, but don’t hold up.

Still, I squinted hard enough to try and enjoy the narrative, but I’m a sucker for fleshed out characters, and there are none in this book. Someome whose name I knew was killed constantly over the course of the story, and not a single time did I give a damn. The protagonist also makes sure to stay just a vague figure, not too heroic, not too cowardly, just a bland background voice. When she talks of missing some of her deceased lovers, she makes sure you understand she’s not really sad about this one dude in particular — no, God forbid a definitive emotion, — she’s sad about, kinda, everybody. A bit. Best friend disappears after being offended? Yeah whatever, forget about her until the end of the book.

On the level of sentences and paragraphs everything worked, but as a book it doesn’t.


(368 pages, ISBN: 0345524519, Worldcat, Open Library)

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