The war raged across the galaxy. Billions had died, billions more were doomed. Moons, planets, the very stars themselves, faced destruction - cold-blooded, brutal, and worse, random. The Idirans fought for their Faith; the Culture for its moral right to exist. Principles were at stake. There could be no surrender.
Within the cosmic conflict, an individual crusade. Deep within a fabled labyrinth on a barren world, a Planet of the Dead proscribed to mortals, lay a fugitive Mind. Both the Culture and the Idirans sought it. It was the fate of Horza, the Changer, and his motley crew of unpredictable mercenaries, human and machine, actually to find it, and with it their own destruction.
©1987 Iain M. Banks (P)2011 Hachette Audio
"Dazzlingly original." (Daily Mail)
"Gripping, touching and funny." (TLS)
When your protagonist is captured three times in a book, you have a problem. When more than half a book is summed up by "supposedly elite espionage agent and shapeshifter can't find a ride", you've got a problem. When the reader concludes that the protagonists allies will probably all die of friendly fire, and they do, albeit over many many pages going no where, it's a problem. When your multi-species crew of star-faring mercenaries can't figure out how to kill an unconscious member of a common belligerent species (one that's perfectly killable), it's a problem.
This book has vast amounts of writing that fails to move the plot or characters. The characters are too dumb to live. There was little to no consequence to their actions. I won't be picking up any of the other books in the series.
This is the first novel Iain Banks' Culture series and actually one of the first novels penned by the beloved author. It's a Space Opera set during the Idiran Culture War, but past that it's difficult to explain the plot without spoilers.
Honestly, this is a bit of a mixed bag. On the plus side, Banks plays around with some fascinating concepts throughout the book, such as the practical costs of maintaining a technological utopia. On the down side, it's very clear that he's still learning his craft and as a result the first two thirds of this are a bit of a slog to get through. That said, the final third of the story really picks up and I'm definitely interested enough to keep going. Also, Peter Kenny turns in a terrific performance. If you're a completionist, I'd recommend this. If not, you might want to start with Bank's second Culture novel, The Player of Games, instead.
The book was really good. The author (Iain Banks) unveils an interesting and well thought-out futuristic world in this first book of his Culture series. The only bit of criticism I have is I think the author could have done better at connecting the reader to the book's interesting characters. I feel like the characters in the story are often overshadowed by the author’s passion and skill in describing the galaxy, species, science, and technology of the Culture series.
The narrator (Peter Kenny) did an excellent job, and used a multi-accented delivery that brought the story to life well.
Union Electrician IBEW 317 Huntington, WV
Please audible, do whatever it takes to close the deal to get the rest of the books in this series. They are out there on competing sites.
I generally only write reviews of books I don't like so as to remind myself if I see them again, and hopefully warn others...
I really did not like the ending, I would say more but don't want to spoil anything for others.
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