Bas-Lag is a land of water. There are all manner of creatures living above and below the water, and each little island seems to have its own race of people or monsters. There are great cities and small ports, heroes and villains, sailors, regular folk…and of course, pirates.
I almost don’t want to say anything about this amazing, astoundingly creative book. I knew nothing going in, and watching it unfold, never knowing where it would turn, definitely heightened the experience. But I have to at least mention Armada: the floating pirate city, made up of husks of ships, stolen or scavenged from anywhere and everywhere. Rope bridges and walkways criss-cross the city, small dirigibles serve as taxis, and everything in the city is stolen. Most of the population has been ‘press-ganged’ – kidnapped from their ships and put to work in the floating city. Most of them adapt and grow to love their new home, especially those who were slaves in their old one.
The plot is intricate. The descriptions are detailed. The world is lovingly created and amazingly unique. There are sea monsters and magic and political battles and treasure maps and interesting characters. I can’t tell you enough, but I don’t want to tell you anything. The story dumps you straight into the action and never dumbs it down, so sometimes it’s hard to decipher, but once you get into it you’re sure to be swept away. I think that’s the only reason I’d give it a 4.5 instead of 5, though – that “wait, what?” feeling happened a few too many times.
When I got to the end, there’s an excerpt from the third book, and I had no idea this was a sequel (that may have been why I felt like I was missing something a time or two). I’m thrilled that I get to spend more time in this world, and am off to find the other books.