Bas-Lag Reading Project- The Scar Part Four: Blood
We come now to the fourth part of The Scar– “Blood.” This part deals with the anophelii and the adventure to the Island of the Anophelii. And so, this post will be all about the anophelii. Why? Because they are damn cool.
In a way, the anophelii are the shadow insectoids to the khepri. While not exact, there are many similarities. Each can be described as a functionally one gender-sentient race. Khepri males are little lobster/ scarab like things that lack intelligence. And anophelii women, though capable of intelligence, are so consumed by hunger that they rarely have the time to even attempt to learn. And both khepri females and anophelii males have an ambivalence about the opposite gender, although the khepri are more disdainful than the anophelii.
Both races are, in some ways, exiles and refugees. The khepri fled their homelands to avoid a catastrophic event and now exist as scattered refugees. Meanwhile, the anophelii are limited to a single island in perpetual exile. Neither will be independent and both are ghettofied.
The anophelii’s ghetto is controlled by Kohnid on the island of Gnur Kett. The Kohnid use the anophelii males to enhance their own academic reputation. Essentially, the anophelii are imprisoned scholars and theorists. And they never get adequate recompense for their labors.
Given their enforced isolation, it is doubtful that any of them should know of, care about, or have the ability to remonstrate.
But why are the anophelii treated this way? Because the anophelii are mosquito people. And the women of the species are blood drinkers, like their insect counterparts. They lack understanding when they are driven mad by hunger, which can last for up to a year or more. And only when sated can they even hope for a brief moment of lucidity and (perhaps) horror of what they are.
The anophelii are imprisoned because, at some point in the past (a thousand years or more), the anophelii were more numerous. They inhabited a considerable tract of land in Rohagi’s warmer south. The Malarial Queendom is the name given to the anophelii empire.
From what I can tell, the Malarial Queendom did not last long. But what constitutes a long temporal endurance? Decades, a century? Given the nature of the anophelii, I do not think that the anophelii dominated Rohagi for long. Given their nature, I would guess that they are like various barbarian tribes that swoop in, conquer some lands or states, rule for a time, and then collapse quickly under attack by other groups.
It is stated that the anophelii were driven out and actively exterminated from all of Rohagi save for the isolated island from which they have no escape (until Armada comes calling). But the reign of terror lasts long after their near annihilation. And it is mentioned that they are a dying race.
This raises the question, how did the anophelii rule? Was it a plunderous terror, or did the Malarial Queens actively rule? Were they brutal or were they conscious of the wrongness of their actions? What of the men? Were they the true rulers, or did they act as scholars and politicians? It is hard to see the little men of the island, the earnest scholars, as engaging in atrocity. But times and cultures change.
Still, the anophelii are one of the greatest creations of Mieville’s highly imaginative mind.