My first run-in with China Miéville and I'm pretty sure it won't be the last. This is a thrilling story of the power of language and a different look at first encounter (although the story is set well after the actual physical encounter.) The first part is all getting to know a well thought out future world, while learning of the upcoming conflict. While there are heroes and villains and conflict present, this is not space opera. There are no epic space battles or huge galactic civilizations clashing. I still found it remarkably exciting. Well worth the time.