Today, I want to briefly talk about what I’m currently reading and also bring your attention to a new piece of flash fiction I’ve just made available here on the blog.
King Rat by China Miéville
I’ve never read China Miéville before. As a fantasy fan, I guess that should make me feel ignorant/shameful/unworthy (delete as appropriate). But you know what? It doesn’t. See, I like my fantasy quite traditional. As much as I love Mr. Grimdark himself, Joe Abercrombie, and his brilliant novels, I still need my fix of magic, quests, dragons and bearded men yelling: ‘By the beards of my forefathers, I shall have my revenge!’
Don’t get me wrong, though, I do read “normal” fiction too. Dan Brown is a guilty pleasure, I make sure to occasionally read sci-fi and I’ve dipped into William Boyd, Ian Fleming and Iain Banks. But China Miéville was an oddity. A fantasy author who doesn’t write about elves, wizards or dragons and almost manages to cross over into what you might call “literary” fiction. As a writer, I always try to broaden my horizons when it comes to reading. The more varied reading experiences I have, the more I’ll learn how to shape my own style and grow my “writing toolset”. Anyway, enough fluff, on with the post!
So, King Rat, what’s it about?
When Saul Garamond’s father is murdered in mysterious circumstances, Saul is left as the only suspect. Arrested and placed in a cell, he is rescued by a strange man called King Rat who needs his help to defeat an old enemy known as the Ratcatcher. King Rat introduces Saul to the real London, a grimy world where every rubbish bin contains a nourishing meal and where rats squabble over scraps of territory in the sewers. And then he reveals the truth about who Saul really is…
I’m about a quarter of the way through with this book and I’m enjoying it so far. It’s quite surreal, while at the same time feeling really familiar and grounded, which is a difficult thing to convey I think. The characters are all well-crafted, particularly King Rat himself. I’m not so keen on the characters/storyline of Saul’s friends, Natasha and Fabian, but I’m hoping something happens soon to draw me in (I didn’t particularly enjoy reading about Jungle music and Natasha’s vehement love of it for several pages). I need to be patient and give the characters their chance to shine, so I’ll reserve judgement on that for now.
I love the overall tone of the book and the atmosphere that the author has created around the character of King Rat, as well as his penchant for cockney-rhyming slang. I’m still a little puzzled as to how King Rat is a rat, but in human form, so I’ll read on to discover more. I may check out the New Crobuzon series at some point, as I can only begin to imagine what Mr. Miéville could do with a secondary-world fantasy.
Three Brothers: An Unfortunate Tale
And lastly, I’ve just added the titular flash fiction to the Shorts section for your reading pleasure! This was a piece I wrote a long time ago and self-published on Kindle as a bit of an experiment. Needless to say, I learned a lot about the Kindle platform, but now I want to share this story with you all. Basically, it’s a fantasy take on the tale of the Three Little Pigs and should hopefully have you chuckling and on the edge of your seat simultaneously…
Just hit the link below to check it out!
- A Biography of China Mieville (beyondthepalebooks.net)