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KING RAT by China Miéville


by China Miéville

Pub Date: Sept. 8th, 1999
ISBN: 0-312-89073-7
Publisher: Tor

Distinctive grunge fantasy from a British newcomer. Saul Garamond, bewilderingly arrested for the murder of his father, is spirited out of jail by an oddball who claims to be the King of the Rats. Saul’s mother, apparently, was King Rat’s sister. She fled rat-kind, preferring to join humanity, and married Saul’s father. As King Rat conducts him through London’s reeking underbelly, Saul finds latent rat-abilities stirring: he can eat garbage, move soundlessly and unseen, squeeze through impossibly tiny openings, and climb vertical walls. One individual alone daunts King Rat: the Piper of Hamelin, who, playing his flute, can force all rats, even King Rat, to dance to his tune. The Piper murdered Saul’s father, mistaking him for Saul. But why? Saul, being half-rat, half-human, is immune to the Piper’s summons’so the Piper must kill him. King Rat was the sole survivor of the debacle at Hamelin, and the rats have refused to obey him since. Saul encounters and barely escapes the stronger, quicker Piper, but he does learn that King Rat lied: he raped Saul’s mother, and he is Saul’s father. (Problem is, Saul’s therefore all rat’so why is he immune to the Piper’s call?) Having enslaved Saul’s musician friends Natasha and Fabian, the Piper forces them to record new and irresistible music—and challenges Saul and King Rat to a showdown. Provided you can ignore the troublesome flaw: a bold, pounding, down-and-dirty debut. A working knowledge of Cockney rhyming slang helps.