There are three races of people known variously as Ariekene, Terre, Hosts,
Ambassadors, `monsters' which defy generic description, people who always
go around as (more or less) tethered pairs; there are two `languages'
although one is a `not' language, and the different people can speak one
or other or both. After having read the book I am baffled as to who's
who. It is a terrible muddle, really.
Events take a turn when an infrequent ship delivers a new Ambassador, who
starts to abuse the `not' language by telling slight untruths in the
not-language: a major impossibility by all accounts. Ripples spread
immediately through one or more of the societies, leading to street
warfare, high-ranking murder, and mass-addiction to a god-drug which is,
in fact, this new Ambassador speaking mostly empty rhetoric but always
infused with a little untruth and political derring.
I think the main protagonist is of the planet's indigenous species, the
Ariekene, but who is specially chosen to interact with the non-language
speakers at an early age and then is at liberty to leave the planet and
explore the universe a little; and at that that is a higher-dimensional
place (immer). Actually, there is very little point to the immersing
business and the book would have worked perfectly well with people simply
travelling through ordinary space. However the hero comes back to her
planet and gets deeply embroiled in the political upheavals. The final
resolution is to force the non-language people, who have become
dysfunctionally violent on the god-drug, to accept double standards and
hence contradictions and hence constructed untruths, and thence to drop
their dependence on their non-language and instead start talking properly
to each other.
It is all quite ludicrous. There is an overarching feeling in the end
that the non-language people are inately very, very stupid, which grates
with the notion that they have developed any kind of complex society.
It is fair to say that, for what it is, the book is as well written and
constructed as it might be, China Mieville throwing around a massive
amount of imagination and literary flair (although in places early on it
does turn into a tumble of random words).
Ultimately though, it's just a lot of nonesense.