Specifically I'm trying to reconstruct in words what goes on with/in the Scar itself, as in between Hedrigall's departure and then his return on the airship. It's something to do with the whole possibility trope (like with Doul's sword), but I'm not quite sure I understand what actually goes down. Does Hedrigall just freak the Armadans out so much that they decide it's not worth it and to turn around? Also I'm sure it intersects with the decline/death of the avanc somehow?

Hopefully that's not too much of a mess. I don't need a play-by-play, I think, but if someone could reconstruct basically the impetus, the action, the crisis, and the outcome, I should be able to make sense of it. At least, as much sense as Mieville allows. I'm sure the answer to "what happened" is fundamentally uncertain, but I'm not sure that I even know what exactly to be uncertain about.

Thanks, and I'm happy to clarify if needed.

1 Answer 1



The crucial events that form end game of The Scar are these:

  1. The real Hedrigall and the Arrogance go missing.
  2. A considerable time later, a Hedrigall is found drifting on the wreck of the Arrogance in Armada’s way. He appears to be confused and surprised that not everybody is dead.

    Unless mentioned otherwise, Hedrigall refers to this Hedrigall in this answer.

  3. Hedrigall is taken in by the Lovers where he tells them that he is the last survivor of an Armada that was destroyed when riding into the Scar. The female Lover decides to withhold this information to the Armadan public, keep Hedrigall under lock, and continue the journey to the scar. Bellis Coldwine and Tanner Sack eavesdrop on all of this.

  4. Tanner Sack uses his reputation and trustworthiness to directly spread this information on Armada, which brings the Armadans on the verge of rebellion and demanding Hedrigall.
  5. The Lovers fail at a last attempt to convince the public (and divorce over this). Tanner Sack and others take control and turn Armada around.
  6. The female Lover leaves Armada on a small ship heading for the Scar. After a while, the male Lover regains control of Garwater, because nobody else wants it. He is, however, clearly weakened and appears to be a puppet of Uther Doul.

Why does Armada turn?

The impetus behind the Armadans’ mutiny is based on three things:

  • The danger of the Scar as foretold by Hedrigall.
  • The fact that the Lovers choose to lie about this to the Armadan public and keep Hedrigall locked.
  • The belief (and subsequent reveal) that the Lovers know less about the Scar than they claimed to do.

Here are two quotes corroborating this:

  • ‘Two days ago,’ Bellis heard one women say with dreadful awe. ‘All of us, we’ve been dead for two days.’

    It was a warning. No one could possibly miss that.

  • ‘You were going to keep it [Hedrigall’s story] from us,’ [Tanner] said. ‘You were going to lie. We’ve come so far with you, and you were going to lie to us about this. Because you’re so blinded by some greed you couldn’t risk us facing you down. You know nothing about the Scar,’ he shouted ‘Nothing. Don’t tell me cincidence, don’t tell me unbelievable – maybe this is how it works. You don’t even know.

The avanc’s sickness and other previous events like the attack by New Crobuzon, the grindylow–vampir attack, and the Lovers’ general secrecy are not direct reasons for this, but are relevant as they make the suspicions that fuel the Armadans’ mutiny plausible.

What to be uncertain about

First of all, I see no indication that this book is a case of an unreliable narrator. It is mostly written from Bellis’ and Tanner’s perspective and what we get to learn are their real experiences.

Rather it is a case of unreliable reality. The main alleged power of the Scar as well as Uther Doul’s Possible Sword and other artifacts is to tap into parallel universes. For example, the Possible Sword draws sword blows from parallel universes into this one.

With that being said, there are three relevant interpretations of the ending, as offered by Bellis in her final letter:

  • Hedrigall is the real Hedrigall (from this universe), whose story is an elaborated lie to make Armada turn around. If this is true, it is further unclear whether Hedrigall was acting on his own or is in allegiance with Uther Doul and others.

  • Hedrigall is really from an alternate universe and his story is true. That this Hedrigall was picked up by Armada in the story’s universe is a coincidence or a whim of the Scar.

  • Hedrigall is really from an alternate universe and his story is true. But: Uther Doul used his perhapsadian or other possibility devices to draw this specific Hedrigall into the story’s universe as part of an elaborated plan.

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