Young child discovers the world – his occasionally psychopathic father, his practical but proud mother, and the little town at the foot of the mountain. Everything is both creepy and boring – a uniquely kafkaesque mix (and the end is straight up like a Kafka short story that I can point at).
I liked that you are really just given the protagonist’s perspective. If you want to know more about this strange-but-not-for-him world, read and think and pay a lot of attention, and you may catch glimpses of a war in past generations, of intermixing and tensions, of an empire and her employees. But it kind of goes nowhere, and I didn’t enjoy the experience. I know Miéville thinks of this as his best work to date, and I think I’ll stick to his Bas-Lag era.