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General InfoEdit

Armada is a floating pirate city that roams the waters of Bas-Lag (usually the Swollen Ocean). It is constructed from a multitude of scavenged, captured, and assimilated ships joined together with chains, planks and bridges. The city's existence has been kept as secret as possible for centuries (perhaps millenia), and survives by way of piracy, scavenging, and some trade with other pirate factions like the Cactacae faction Dreer Samheer. Its vast network of ships (using thaumaturgical compasses to find their way back), raids coastlines and vessels to bring back everything from soil to books to new citizenry. This last group is largely composed of prisoners, slaves, and others who are unlikely to hold loyalty to another power; even so, "press-ganged" citizenry are rarely allowed to venture away from Armada before years of loyal service, and the most unruly of them are sometimes executed.

Culturally and racially, Armada is extremely diverse, and while its collection of scientic and thaumaturgical knowledge grows unpredictably in fits and starts of scavenging, there are many accomplished and brilliant minds among its populace, and Armada approaches the level of more conventional cities in these areas. Politically, Armada is divided into mostly autonomous "ridings", but apart from the haunted quarter, its inhabitants move freely between these miniature polities while (usually) identifying as a citizen of one of them.

Below Armada, cray, menfish, dolphins, and the occasional acquatic or amphibious Remade live and work on the vessels' underside. Suited human divers also work on repairs and construction projects here, but the acquatic races form their own sunken cities and societies. The political and cultural nature of these places remain unclear (part of the ridings above? Additional ridings, or completely autonomous governments?)

While Armada has long traveled at crawling speed and great expense of fuel, the Lovers' have plans to replace the city's ineffectual fleet of tugboats with a more powerful motive force.

Appearance in Bas-Lag NovelsEdit

Armada is a floating city where most of the events in China Miéville's novel The Scar take place.

Neighborhoods (Ridings) Edit

Armada is comprised of smaller sub-states known as "ridings". Each riding has its own ruling class which participates in a council that governs Armada as a whole. It is the chief setting (within Bas-Lag) of the novel The Scar Each riding consists of a number of ships. The ones that are mentioned in the novel are included below.

Note that the layout of Armada is never precisely described. Shaddler - Booktown - Garwater's Basilio docks - Jhour seem to form one edge of the city, while Garwater nestles in the center between all of these and Curhouse. Bask, Shaddler, Dry Fall, Thee-and-Thine, and the haunted riding must make up the other side of the city in some configuration.


  • Bask riding has "uniformed proctors" as police. They oppose Garwater (particular someone named "Sallow"). Not much else is known.
    • Tailor's Moan is their capital ship, and one of the five ships attached to the Avanc's harness by a massive underwater chain (despite their failed attempts to break it).
  • Booktown - also known as the khepri quarter, or The Clockhouse Spur. Inhabited and ruled by khepri who took over the running of the Grand Gears Library from the riding's previous rulers in a peaceful coup upon their arrival a century before the novel's start. Somewhat dull-colored khepri-spit statuary decorates the riding, and guard-sister trios emulating their deities protect its decks. Adjacent to Garwater and Booktown.
    • the Psire is the largest ship in the Clockhouse Spur, although it's uncertain whether it's the flagship. It is a large archaic steamer refitted for industry and cheap housing. One of the five ancient chains holding the harness of the Avanc is tethered to its base.
    • the Severe is a massive clipper connected to Garwater by the Taffeta Bridge
    • the Compound Dust is a clockwork Mercy Ship
    • the Duneroller, a "fat old gunship", is a backalley neighborhood of thamaturgists and apothecaries. Sometimes Remade citizens come here to undo or mitigate their perpetual physical punishments.
    • the Aronnax Lab is a factory ship covered in metallurgy workshops, refineries, gas depots, and Krome Plaza
    • the Pincherman, Corrosive Memory, and Dancing Wight are some of the vessels that make up the Grand Gears Library
  • Curhouse riding - a democracy ruled by the Democratic Council, which oversees an orderly system of courts. Borders Garwater and shares the exotic Croom Park with it. Opposed to the Lovers' commandeering of the Armada's route, and attempting to do something about it along with Dry Fall's Brucolac. Several of the city's most respected (although Curhouse-biased) journals are published here, including The Flag and Council's Call (respectively concerned with news and politics). (The only member of the council named in the novel is a woman named Vordakine.)
  • Dry Fall riding - a "protectorate" ruled by the Brucolac, a benevolent vampir that survives by enacting a rotating blood-tax on his citizens. In exchange, the riding is well-maintained, peaceful, welcoming of political input from its citizenry, and promises a more free and comfortable life than most ridings. Borders the haunted quarter. Its rulers are opposed to the Lovers' plans.
    • the Uroc is its huge and ancient flagship. While very few know its origin and some claim the bizarre construction was never built to sail, it is in truth a moonship, sailed on "gusts of lunar light" by the Brucolac from High Cromlech upon his arrival to Armada. Due to its unusual topography of chasms and spires, it has not been built upon, and is used solely as quarters and meeting space for the Brucolac, his ab-dead lieutenants, and diplomatic visitors. It shimmers in the moonlight, and its masts flicker with elyctrical saint's fire in a predictable and cyclical pattern.
    • the Sudden Understanding is a large ship controlled, unusually, by two ridings (Thee-and-Thine's murky borders lie around its forecastle).
  • Garwater riding - The most powerful riding in Armada, Garwater Riding, is ruled by The Lovers, who essentially dictate the course of the entire Armada. It is Garwater riding which spearheads Armada's effort to raise a large sea creature called an Avanc. It borders Shaddler, Booktown, Jhour (maybe?) and Curhouse, sharing Croom Park's floral menagerie with the last. Good behavior is maintained by loosely organized sash-wearing "yeomanry" who tend to enforce the law by lash. (Dictatorial but not totalitarian, its political system has been described as "absolutist benevolence".)
    • The Grand Easterly, once an impractically large New Crobuzon vessel, now flagship of Garwater, stronghold of the Lovers, and largest ship in Armada. Directions throughout Armada are given relative to the Grand Easterly (for'd, aft, star'd, and port). Deep inside the vessel, a strange stone of mysterious origin attracts the needles of Armada's metaclockwork and thaumaturgical compasses: the godrock. It is also one of the five ships tethered to the Avanc's harness by means of a powerful underwater chain.
      • The Arrogance, a broken airship, is tethered above the Grand Easterly to form the easiest landmark for Armada residents. Hedrigall (apparently having repaired it) cut loose and flew away during Armada's journey across the Hidden Ocean
      • The Trident, another large airship, was tethered here during the few months between its construction and its immolation by the New Crobuzon attack.
    • The Chromolith is a decrepit paddleship a couple ships port of the Grand Easterly. A modified chimney here forms the quarters of Bellis Coldwine
    • The Raddletongue, a large and very ancient vessel. The ruins of marble temples can be found here, as well as a restaraunt known as the Unrealized Time. It is adjacent to the Urchinspine Docks, "Armada's second harbor" after the larger Basilio, also in Garwater.
    • Glomar's Heart, a steamer containing the Boulevard St. Carcheri, "a shabby-opulent promenade of gently colored streetlamps, knotted rustwood trees, and stucco facades."
    • The Sorghum, a deep sea drilling rig stolen from New Crobuzon, mining oil, rockmilk, and other substances. Part of the Lovers' plans.
    • The Castor is a small, temporary addition bordering Shaddler and Booktown. Tintinnabulum and his team of hunter-researchers live here, working on the Lovers' plans.
    • The Terpsichoria was a recent addition at the time of the novel. It was primarily a slave ship carrying Remade criminals to Nova Esperium, along with a few passengers such as Bellis Coldwine.
    • The Shadeskinner is part of Garwater's suburbs, where ships remain almost entirely unrenovated; used almost exclusively as a quiet residential area.
    • The Gigue (probably in Garwater) has an industrial district at its fore spewing out smoke and chymicals.
    • The Badmark is a barge connected to Shaddler riding by the Whiskey Bridge.
    • The Surge Instigant contains the Wattlandaub Maze.
    • The Cable's Weft is a decaying barquentine.
    • The Plengant is a submersile adjacent to the Grand Easterly on its starboard side, studded with trees.
    • The Tolpandy is an ironclad warship turned shopping center, adjacent to Shaddler riding.
    • The Dober, in view of the Sorghum and most likely in Garwater, is constructed from the lower half of a hollowed out blue whale carcass, preserved and solidified by unknown methods. It cannot support permanent structures, but tarpaulins and poles form some quality beer tents.
    • The Hoddling is a factory ship at the Grand Easterly's bow.
  • Jhour riding - ruled by a "solar queendom" with the cactacae woman Braginod on its throne (until her death during the New Crobuzon attack resuls in her brother Dynich taking her place). Airship construction is a large part of its economy. Many cactacae of all social classes live here. Borders Garwater?
    • The Custody is the site of the Aeroworks plant, one of the most important airship manufacturers
    • The Saskital has one of the five chains holding the harness of the Avanc tethered to its underside.
  • Shaddler riding - home of the scabmettlers. adjacent to Booktown, Thee-and-Thine, Garwater's foremost edge, and the open sea. Ruled by a general, its citizens reportedly have little autonomy. The streets are rather bleak and simple. Pomp's Way is located here, a marketplace busy with visitors from Garwater and Booktown. Elsewhere in the riding, temples and herbariums serve the distinctive needs of the scabmettlers.
    • The Therianthropus is Shaddler's flagship, and the site of Barrow Hall.
    • Darioch's Concern is a clipper connected to Garwater riding by the Whiskey Bridge. It is a low-class, raucous area.
    • Badmark, a barge on the inner side of Darioch's Concern
    • The Dearly, a permanently surfaced submersile with a theater inside it, on the outer side of Darioch's Concern
    • The Thaladin lies on the edge of Armada, displaying the Shaddler Sculpture Garden by the open ocean
  • Thee-and-Thine riding - bordering the haunted quarter and Shaddler, Thee-and-Thine is an unpretentious riding, site of the very popular arena fights, glad' circuses, and bazaars. King Friedrich is the current "violent mercantile" ruler. Juhangirr's Concern is a journal published here reporting on events entirely through crude pictures. In Thee-and-Thine, "everything is for sale" and the government is unconcerned with cleaning up its unkempt raucous streets.
    • The Salt Godling is its flagship
    • The Yevgeny is a hundred-foot sloop housing a belowdecks pub, The Pashakan
    • the oily iron ship Drudgery in a quiet part of town. A big old factory ship next to it houses Armada's asylum.
  • The haunted quarter - not really a riding, but an abandoned and feared area of Armada. A mere dozen or so ships tucked away at the fore-port corner of the city, it borders Thee-and-Thine and Dry Fall. People of Thee-and-Thine tell stories of the ghuls and "tallow ghast" that supposedly live there, but the inhabitants of Dry Fall are more subdued on the subject. Strange sounds are heard at times, birds refuse to land on its masts, and anyone crossing over to investigate returns either pale and silent or not at all. It remains attached to Armada either due to superstition or to supernatural power that reputedly foils attempts to separate it.
    • The Wordhoard, largest vessel in the haunted quarter, is attached to the Avanc's harness by one of the five chains tethering the contraption to Armada. Silas Fennec hid in its depths while he was not busy plotting against Armada.
  • Shared land - Croom Park lies between Curhouse and Garwater, a few ships filled with exotic plants.


Note: It is unclear where certain areas are located, including Winterstraw Market and the Sculpture Garden. This last one is located next to the Proposal, simply a uniform slab of jade. Needle Street and Blodmead Street are "less savory" areas of Garwater.

Location Edit

Armada is a floating itinerant city that slowly roams The Swollen Ocean, approaching certain regions to trade with certain factions, like the Dreer Samheer, a faction of Cactacae.

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