An early novel by China Mieville. His writing in this book is frequently over-the-top, a tendency that he managed to reign in with later works. The story however is breath-taking, set in a squalid steam-punk city, and featuring the most imaginative and interesting characters involved in stupendous undertakings. While Hollywood still creates creaky and portentous movies reminding us that blacks and whites can get along, Mieville features an intense and totally convincing inter-species love affair. I was shocked by the bleak ending of the book - perhaps I am still too much in thrall to Hollywood traditions. But this is a story that will stay with me a long time.