Armada (Bas-Lag)

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Armada is the name of the fictional floating city in China Miéville's novel The Scar. The city is part of the fictional universe Bas-Lag. It is over a thousand years old, and little is known of its origins. In The Scar, Armada is seen and described through the eyes of several recently press-ganged citizens, notably New Crobuzoner Bellis Coldwine and Remade prisoner Tanner Sack.


Armada is made up of hundreds of ships, airships and other sea vessels all interconnected, existing as a movable pirate state on the oceans of Bas-Lag. The ships, the oldest having been part of Armada for more than a thousand years, are mostly built-upon, factories and residences built up on their decks (and in some cases, within their gutted hulls). The city's population is at least a hundred thousand, and is made up of humans, cactacae, khepri, ab-dead, Remade, scabmettlers and many other races. People considered criminals (or otherwise being of lower classes) in their former home states of Bas-Lag are recast as equals upon joining Armada, and often go on to hold positions of power.

Armada thrives on piracy, and through this method adds wealth to itself. Piracy of the seas also leads to acquisitions of knowledge in countless languages (all books are stolen for the Grand Gears Library), and the growth of Armada's population, for any ship intercepted by Armada's forces is assimilated into the city and its crew and passengers are press-ganged into citizenship for life. The language of Armada is Salt, a constructed language deliberately made easy to learn, and consisting of vocabulary from the languages of the many races who inhabit the city.


Armada is divided into separate ridings (boroughs of the city), each governed by a different body. The ridings are as follows in the time period of The Scar.


The most powerful of the ridings, led by the Lovers, two nameless scar-covered pirates who influence most of Armada's decisions. Garwater's flagship is The Grand Easterly. It is also in possession of two enormous airships, the Arrogance and the Trident, as well as the stolen New Crobuzon deep-sea rig Sorghum.

Dry Fall[edit]

Governed by a vampir called the Brucolac, Dry Fall's residents are prosperous and have the most security and individual freedoms of any of the ridings in Armada, but they pay for this way of life through a "goretax" - they donate their own blood to their vampiric leader. Dry Fall, along with Curhouse, stands against Garwater's plans to raise the avanc. Dry Fall's flagship is the Uroc.


Run by a khepri triumvirate. Booktown houses the Grand Gears Library, Armada's immense stronghold of knowledge.


Curhouse is the most democratic of the ridings, and is governed by a large Council, who tend to oppose the Lovers. Curhouse is where Bellis Coldwine's ship the Terpsichoria ends up, and it is also the location of Croom Park, a large public garden spread over several ships that have been gutted and filled with soil.


This riding is led by a trader-king named Friedrich, whose favour is easily bought by the Lovers. It is regarded as a lawless slum-like neighbourhood by the greater populace of Armada, but Bellis observes that it is more mercantile than lawless. The flagship is the Salt Godling.


Bask's flagship is the Tailor's Moan. It is home to the menfish.


This riding is led by a Cactacae queen named Braginod. Its flagship is the Saskital.


This riding is governed by a general, and is home to the majority of the Scabmettler population. Its flagship is the Therianthropus.

The Haunted Quarter[edit]

A deserted riding of ancient ships, believed to be inhabited by all manner of ghouls and other supernatural beings. It was used as a hideout for Silas Fennec.

The avanc[edit]

In the course of the events of The Scar, the Lovers devise of and carry out a plan to raise the legendary avanc to give Armada ultimate power over the seas. This has been tried once before in Armada's history, as evidenced by five enormous chains attached to the undersides of the city's largest ships. Along with a team of scientists and engineers, and against the voices of several of the other ridings, Garwater is able to summon the avanc using a great deal of physical and magical energy. This gives Armada the means to travel to the mythical "Scar".