I enjoyed this story greatly. The only drawback was the narrator. Was the man mainline Nguyen 5Hour Energy or what? I kept checking to see if the speed was right. It was. He just read like he had to be someplace in the next five minutes.
I would strongly suggest reading the series from start to finish. This one, however, is one of the highlights on the journey. Masterfully crafted. Beautifully written. Wonderful characters. Cutting social commentary. Brutally honest.
RIP Mr. Banks. This book has made you immortal.
I never once "phased out" and needed to rewind. I'd often find myself sitting in my car, listening, well after I'd arrived at my destination. I can't recommend this enough.
This was my first foray into the Culture series and I fell in love with the setting. The Player of Games is listed as book two, but its story is self-contained and serves as a fine introduction to the universe. Banks hands out little nuggets of information about his world as the story goes on, such that the reader is constantly intrigued by the characteristics and vast scope of The Culture without ever getting mired in heavy world-building.
The story of master game player Jernau Gurgeh is well imagined and interesting. At times while reading I thought it linear and bland, but at the conclusion of the book Banks reveals a new layer of complexity and design behind the story. I won't spoil the finish for you, but to say that The Culture is as much a character in the plot as anyone else is.
My one complaint with the story is that the characters spend much of their time playing games that are never adequately explained. I would have loved to know more about the rules and strategies of Azad and the purpose behind them. As it is, I never felt invested in the game. This hampered my enjoyment of the many game-playing sequences, though they still moved the plot along easily, and after all they aren't the most important part.
The drone Mawhrin-Skel. Kenny voices all of the drones well, but Mawhrin-Skel stood out as unique. Flere-Imsaho was also quite amusing. Kenny does a good job of navigating the made-up names of all of the characters. He pronounces them confidently, which helped minimize my confusion early in the story.
Peter Kenny's performance is one of my my favorites in my library. He is the perfect choice for the story, and handles the critical revelation at the end very, very well.
I laughed on a couple of occasions. Banks interjects moments of humor into dialogue and into a couple of narrating segments that took me pleasantly by surprise. Though far from an outright comedy, the book is written with a tone that stops just short of taking itself too seriously.
A good introduction to a classic sci-fi universe. I can't wait to start my next Culture novel.
I absolutely loved listening to this story, excitement, intrigue, and scentient machines as the protagonists.
The performance really brought the characters to life.
Well put together story with excellent twists. Banks is a great storyteller and this is an excellent second or third novel to read in the Culture series.
The synopsis doesn't do this book justice! I wasn't sure if I would like it, but once it started it just kept building to the point that I didn't want to shut it off. And it was never predictable. Although I'm always trying to figure out what will happen next, I was regularly surprised. I'm going to seek out more by Mr. Banks.
Peter Kenny excellently captured both the gravitas of the game and the zaniness of the drones; my one complaint is that he narrates very fast, and some rewinding was required. Highly recommended.
The story had substance, but the premise was a little cheesy and anticlimactic. The story is slow and boring for 3/4 and the last 1/4 is fast and short. story is heavily focused on the title subject, at the cost of content on the games being played.
This was my first Culture novel. While the underlying plot was fairly predictable, the beauty of the story is the creatively imagined society that extends progressive politics and scientific advancement to interesting conclusions.