Another beefy fantasy set in the same world as Miéville's landmark Perdido Street Station (2001), where recent upheavals in the city New Crobuzon have caused linguist Bellis Coldwine to fear for her life; she hopes to find sanctuary and anonymity in the colony Nova Esperium, a long ocean voyage distant. But before reaching the colony, her ship's intercepted by pirates from Armada, a huge floating city composed of the hulls of captured vessels. Armada's population, human and nonhuman, is governed by the Lovers, a sadomasochistic pair with momentous but arcane plans, and their assistant, Uther Doul, an unmatchable warrior with artifacts from the ancient, vanished, nonhuman Ghosthead Empire. Also aboard, and opposing the Lovers' plans, is the Brucolac, leader of a vampire cadre, and sinister New Crobuzon superspy Silas Fennec. In addition to the ships, Armada has captured a New Crobuzon drilling rig to extract oil and rockmilk, source of vast thaumaturgic power. The Lovers seek a book written in a language only Bellis can interpret: the book contains the knowledge they need to help them harness an avanc, a vast, half-unreal denizen of the abyssal oceans, strong enough to tow Armada across half the face of the world. But to what purpose? Uther Doul and the Brucolac know, but disagree. And amid the swirling plots, machinations, and secret agendas, Armada's being stalked by a group of shadowy, ocean-dwelling, utterly merciless beings.
Again, panoramic and stunningly inventive, but awash with half-baked experimental passages, irritatingly manipulative, overstuffed, and hastily constructed: as frustrating as it is astonishing.