I really didn't like the first book of the Culture series, but a buddy of mine told me that Consider Phlebas is not representative of the remainder, so I gave Player of Games a shot. It's really good. The narration is excellent and the story is excellent. I'll check out the third book in the series next.
The Player of Games is an allegory, largely of a more feudal society, but in many ways also of the modern developed state. As such, it offers insight into both human history and contemporary human society. The game of Azzad (I cannot say more for fear of spoiling things) is a brilliant deconstruction of how political and moral beliefs shape, and are in turn shaped by, the political, economic, and moral circumstances that a society finds itself in. The Player of Games is political philosophy in space (I would like to clarify here that having read the actual canon of political philosophy, I know that this is an exaggeration by a long shot - but it is very interesting for someone who has read the canon nonetheless).
I really liked both the pacing, and the ending. I am also a big fan of some of the just hilarious dialogues and comments by the narrator.
Kenny is an excellent narrator. He did different voices for each character, which made the situations easier to follow. I found the ending to be properly tailored to the audiobook - indeed, Kenny added a flourish that could only be achieved in an audiobook (saying what it is would be a spoiler). Finally, I think that he was very aware of the tone of the book, and seemed to have a very good sense of the sarcasm and irony in the book.
Great story. took me a while to warm up to the Culture (seemed like a boring place to live and everyone a dilettante).
Once it got going, though, the game playing part of the book is detailed, exciting, and relevant.
I think the protagonist was great.
The scenes involving game play.
"Player of Games" had interesting concepts, it made you think. It was a look at the
galactic federation called "the Culture". The talking ships and robots were very good and something different. Of the 3 Iain Banks Culture books that I have listen to, this is the only good one.
I think this book of all the culture novels both has the least to do with the Culture and centers the most on a single protagonist. It's just great science fiction. I wish I could give it 4.5 stars though because I don't know if it deserves a full 5. It did keep me interested throughout and Peter Kenny is one of my favorite narrators, but the lead character was just a little hard to relate to. I guess it might say more about me than the books that I can relate more to the ship Killing Time from Excession than to a human character here :)
This book was intense. The plot is thick and the characters are deep. The intellectual flexibility of the authors concepts are intriguing in both subtle and direct ways. If you like analyzing the underpinnings of cultures and how the worldviews of those cultures shape the reality they observe, this book takes a look at that in the concept of a game. The main character has to play a game that is more complicated than any game anyone has ever played on a remote planet and civilization. The game is so large scaled and complicated that the philosophies and subconscious motivations of the players manifest accurately onto the positions on the board. If a capitalist plays the game, the board takes on the garb of a capitalist structure and so on with other modalities. The philosophical intrigue of the book combined with the liveliness of the characters makes it a strong science fiction title. There are some adult themes in it, though none are direct. I'm looking forward to reading more novels in the same universe.
This book is a bit unusual, since it mixes a droll, dry, humorous tone with depictions of graphic violence and cruelty. It is fun and engaging, and will keep you wanting more until the very end. The science fiction is pretty neat as well, and I liked the main character a lot.
Gen-Xer, software engineer, and lifelong avid reader. Soft spots for sci-fi, fantasy, and history, but I'll read anything good.
Like other novels in Banks' science fiction "Culture" series, this one pits the progressive, tolerant-minded, Utopian human/machine society known as the Culture against a more brutal, warlike, and backwards civilization. This time, the plot involves a gentleman game champion who, bored with his hedonistic life of safe amusements, is recruited by the Culture to play in a high-stakes tournament that's central to the affairs of the less-enlightened rival, the Empire of Azad. The Culture's agents, in typically devious fashion, don't explain exactly what the contest is about.
I wouldn't say that Player of Games is most emotionally-involving or deepest SF novel. I never got too excited about the characters or the plot, which takes a long time to really get moving. Still, there were enough interesting details in the world and the story that I didn't get bored. Banks probably didn't require a whole novel to make his point about the ideals of the Culture versus more competitive-minded political systems, but it had some food for thought.
No complaints about the audiobook reader, though some of his robots are slightly annoying.
Probably not -- but I almost never do repeat listens, mostly because there's too much else out there to read / hear.
Strong delivery, always easily understandable with a wide variety of voices and accents.
This was my first Culture novel. It won't be my last. Highly recommended.