Embassytown’s plot certainly seemed to have potential. It is written from the perspective of Avice Benner, a woman who grew up on the planet of Arieka in a town called Embassytown. He describers herself thus:
“When I was seven years old I left Embassytown. Kissed my shiftparents and siblings goodbye. I returned when I was eleven: married; not rich but with savings and a bit of property; knowing how to fight, how to obey orders, how and when to disobey them; and how to immerse.”On Arieka, the human colonisers live side by side with the original inhabitants or Hosts, who have a completely different Language system and who are incapable of telling lies. Avice leaves the planet to travel the Immer and is only convinced to her return to her home planet when she marries a linguist named Scile who is fascinated by the Hosts.
This is about as far as I got into the book.
I could recognise that there were some interesting ideas in this book, particularly about the use of language. It seems an interesting and rather unique subject matter for a hard science fiction novel.
The issue I had with the book, and ultimately the reason I abandoned it, was because I found it far too conceptually challenging to be enjoyable. I don’t know if I used the correct phrase there, but this is what I mean. There were too many invented words and Mieville provided no explanation for what they referred to. In fact, Mieville invented many fictional concepts, characters, names, words, experiences, existences etc names, but he didn’t devote enough time to explaining what they were or what they meant.
I don’t mind having to figure things out for myself, but I at least need some descriptive clues to do it, and I felt that these were completely lacking. What it meant was that I spent the entire time I was reading Embassytown trying to figure out what I was reading instead of just enjoying the story.
In the end, I felt as though he left me with no choice but to move on to the next book.