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So it seems like only last week I was ranting about how pretentious and unaccessible Mieville is. I recant nothing, but at least with Un Lun Dun, it’s ostensibly a children’s book, so you’ll probably only have trouble reading the book if you’re a kid. I’ve also ranted in the past about authors who neologise (I can’t believe Chrome doesn’t think that’s a word.) without a real need. Enders is probably the worst offender in this case, making up shit left and right when we already had perfectly good words for it. On the other hand, you have all kinds of invented words in Un Lun Dun, and it all ties together with the fiction and makes sense. And there are tons of words, from the dozen different smog denizens, to Unbrellas (broken umbrellas), to the Wordhoard (Mieville’s take on Orpheous’s library), and more. So much more. Yet somehow he manages to pull it off, and every neologism fits into the story.

As a word of warning, there are a few spoilers coming up, but I won’t spoil anything super important, so I encourage you to keep reading anyways. So pretty early on the main character gets memory wiped, and her “trusty sidekick” has to step in and take over. The prophecy was wrong, things don’t work out “as written”, and there’s no guarantee of a happy ending. In fact, shortly before this happened I was kind of disappointed because of the reveal that there was a chosen one, and a prophecy, and let’s be honest, that’s a trope that’s been investigated almost to death. In main stream fiction, I can’t think of the last time that trope was subverted. In fact, the only thing I can really think of is my friend Aaron’s D&D campaign where the party wasn’t the heroes, rather we were a group of adventures who went out to try and save the world after the “big damn heroes” messed up the prophecy and the end of the world started proper. The occasional bit in Un Lon Don where the prophecy comes up again, and is wrong, or slightly off was quite entertaining.

All told this was a quite fun romp into the “Alternate world right next door” fantasy. If you liked Narnia or The Golden Compass, you should probably add this too your to-do list.

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