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)
A beautiful exercise in world building, with a cast of fascinating characters. It's marred only by an ending I found anticlimactic, even if it did fit well.
This was my first Iain M. Banks book, just took a chance and now on my sixth Culture audiobook. Peter Kenny's narration is top notch. The world created for you is just amazing and leaves me thinking about it long after.
I'm just a big kid.
The reason I purchased this book is because Elon Musk decided to name his 'Autonomous spaceport drone ship' after one of the ships in this series: 'Just Follow The Instructions'.
I figured Elon would not like a bad book.
And indeed, the very original ships names Banks comes up with are very clever and entertaining.
The story itself is pretty basic. There a McGuffin. Everyone wants the McGuffin. We really don't care about The McGuffin, but we care about the characters as they run around trying to find the McGuffin.
At the start of the book the bad guys are 'The Culture', which is a galactic civilization that is run by 'minds', super intelligent machines that I'm sure Elon is working on building. They are at war with the the Idirans, a three legged warrior race who seem to be the good guys. Or not. It's hard to say.
I will say that the Idirans are bad asses, and the Cluture's huge sentiant space ships are way cool!
By the end of the book I wasn't sure who the good guys and the bad guys really were. Which is a plus in a lot of ways.
As they run around there is a lot of classic SciFi wizzbangery, with some very Firefly-like / Hans Solo like characters.
The Banks universe is more interesting than the story itself.
It's a good three star space opera wrapped in a five star fictional universe.
Peter Kenny does a terrific job of bringing the characters to life with his narration.
The last five minutes of the audio book are an epilogue, which is clearly there because the McGuffin chasing just ran out of steam and Banks didn't have the heart to actually wrap up the story.
Bottom Line: A workman like SciFi story set in a fascinating universe.
Wonderful narration with interesting characters, subtle humor, social commentary and hard tech diluted with Star Trek shootem up blood and guts.
Peter kenny's performance is marvelous and I will seek out more of his readings but Banks is not for me. The thin character development leaves me entirely disinterested in how any of this turns out.
Wonderful variety of characterizations, never reaching, enticingly modulated.
Horza's is ridiculous. It starts with him drowning in shit, and really goes down hill from there.
What I don't like about this story is the shapeshifters. That trope has been really over used by science fiction.
I know Ian Banks has a huge following but just could not get into this. would find at times my mind wandering and would then be lost to what was happening in the book.
Unlikable Characters. Beep.
I don't remember
I don't really tend to like Ian Banks' Characters. They are all pretty unlikable. If you can deal with that, then this is a good book.
Don't let the crappy (pardon the pun) first chapter deter you. Things get better.
Banks' word choice and writing skill is impeccable, as is Kenny's performance. A perfect match.
I really enjoyed Banks' characters and the way he brought the story to an emotional conclusion. As for the least interesting . . . I'd have to say that the middle chapters stretched a bit for me, despite their creativity.
I thoroughly enjoyed how he brought the characters to life and sustained their unique "voices" consistently to the end.
The end, for several emotional reasons.
Even if sci-fi doesn't interest you, I recommend this novel based on Banks' characterization and Kenny's performance.
Then you might like this novel. Reducing the size of the novel by half - that is apply competent editing and get rid of the useless fluff.
Pointless events on a meandering journey to a nowhere conclusion. The "I'm pregnant" scene is perhaps the most horrid piece of writing I've ever come across. The novel takes deus ex machina to new and remarkable heights.
It droned on and on taking forever to get basically nowhere with lots of boring battles, over-hyped breathy descriptions of irrelevant detail. There really wasn't much of a story.
He did fine
Sadness and disappointment that I'd wasted my money. Anger that I believed the hype about Mr. Banks' work.
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