Iron Council picks up about twenty years after the events of the first book in the Bas-Bag series, Perdido Street Station (2000). Iron Council follows two separate storylines. The first is that of an adventure troop on a quest to find a golemist named Judah Low.
Low (who is very Qui-Gon Jinn-like) has left the political unrest of New Crobuzon to find the legendary Iron Council, a group of renegade railroad workers who have sought freedom and independence in the wilderness of Bas-Lag. Their home is a roaming city on wheels the Perpetual Train. Low believes that the return of the Iron Council to New Crobuzon will bring about the overthrow of the corrupt and oppressive mayor’s office.
The story also follows the tale of a would-be street thug and revolutionary named Rory. Rory joins with a subversive gang led by the mysterious and powerful Torro.
Iron Council is a interesting read that brings reader through the Bas-Lag countryside and eventually to the Costacoptic Stain. A weird kind of twilight zone area where cruel bizarre manifestations happen at random.
Iron Council jumps around chronologically but is a much more straightforward story then the first two novels. Perdido Street Station and The Scar (2002) have what might be thought of as dead-end information. An example of this in Perdido Street Station would be Mayor Rudgutter and his cohorts go and talk to the ambassador from hell. This meeting doesn’t progress the story at all other than to show that going to the weaver was an absolute last option.