One of my favourite things about China Mieville’s New Crobuzon books (of which Iron Council is the third) is how the goals in them shift. The book is never the same thing at the end as it was in the beginning. It’s wonderful. Iron Council takes that a bit further than the previous ones I’ve read, by chopping the story into achronological chunks. It opens with people fleeing the city, then jumps back into it where revolution is fomenting, then back in time to see how the fleeing people’s target got somewhere, then into the city and back and forth and it all worked. The book talks about wanting to do something rather than talk about something, about history having a plan, and about love. There are anarchist artists and a whispersmith cowboy, and handlingers, and golemists who intercede and create things out of earth and air and shadow. There’s a cacotopic stain, and swamps, and grasslands, and smoke that turns to stone, and trains, always the trains.