This week I had the pleasure to finish one of the best books I've read in a long time: Perdido Street Station. To be frank, I'm not even sure how to begin this review. I haven't been excited about an author so much since I started reading Snow Crash. China Miéville's story is easily one of the best books I've read. I won't say it is one of the best Fantasy or SciFi books, since any good book is more than it's genre.
Let me begin with the details. The world that Miéville describes revolves around the city of New Crobuzon, a city that is a mixture of London, post-Industrial Revolution, mixed in with magic, a bit of steam-punk, artificial intelligence, various races (and no elves, or dwarfs), and decadence that is simply too much to be believed. While I won't say this is the best story I've read (not really sure what that would be), or the best writing (easily said - Milan Kundera), but the world he creates is just... unbelievably rich. I've never experienced a world like it, and even if the story were sub par, the environment itself would make up for it.
That being said, the story is very well done. At a basic level, the story revolves around a hunt, but there is a great deal of discussion of identity, society, government, and other themes. I cannot recommend this book enough. Drop what you are reading now and pick it up.
So... a mild spoiler. I'd recommend skipping the next part, as it is mainly for those who have already ready the book. Have you stopped reading yet? Come on now, you don't want to ruin a (minor) surprise, do you?
So, I know it wasn't a big part of the book, but the part with Hell was just fascinating. Probably the only person who did Hell as well for me was Gaiman, and even then it was more Lucifer than Hell itself. The whole embassy scene was just plain excellent though.