The Culture - a human/machine symbiotic society - has thrown up many great Game Players, and one of the greatest is Gurgeh. Jernau Morat Gurgeh. The Player of Games. Master of every board, computer, and strategy. Bored with success, Gurgeh travels to the Empire of Azad, cruel and incredibly wealthy, to try their fabulous game... a game so complex, so like life itself, that the winner becomes emperor. Mocked, blackmailed, almost murdered, Gurgeh accepts the game, and with it the challenge of his life - and very possibly his death.
©2008 Iain M. Banks (P)2011 Hachette Audio
"Poetic, humorous, baffling, terrifying, sexy - the books of Iain M. Banks are all these things and more." (NME)
"An exquisitely riotous tour de force of the imagination which writes its own rules simply for the pleasure of breaking them." (Time Out)
I'm new to banks and was looking for something to quench my science fiction/space opera thirst after
reading all of my favorite authors books from Alistar Reynolds. Banks hits a home run with his own style scoring a top position as one of my new favorite authors!!!!!
A Sci Fi junkie who occasionally goes slumming to read other literature.
A master game player in the Culture, Gurgeh, is manipulated to play the game of Azad in the Empire of Azad, a game that determines status and success. Gurgeh does very well and ultimately begins to win the game against the emperor himself. A person's skill at the game is a reflection of their values. The implication is that a member of the Culture (which treats everyone equally, even drones) has higher values than a member of the empire (which is highly discriminatory). At the end, Gurgeh learns a little bit about his manipulation and has the opportunity to learn the whole truth, but doesn't seem too interested.
I sort of figured out half way through the novel what was going on, and I hoped that Gurgeh, rather than being manipulated, was in fact secretly manipulating the drones and everyone else. After all, he is one of the best game players of all time. He should have the ability to see life as a game and position himself well in the final outcome. I was disappointed that this brilliant person was clueless and nothing but a pawn.
The novel is interesting and was worth reading, but was a little bit one dimensional for me.
Peter Kenny is an awesome narrator. His variety and precision with voices is amazing.
If you're looking to get into Iain M. Banks' The Culture series this is the place to start. Yes, I know this is technically the second novel in the series, but the novels can be read in any order with the only connection being the shared setting. Also, the "first" novel doesn't so much introduce you to The Culture as toss you at them.
This novels gives us a great introduction to The Culture, an intergalactic utopian society that entertains themselves (amongst other means) by helping less developed civilizations overcome various issues. That doesn't really do the novel much justice at all, let's get more specific!
Our protagonist, Jernau Morat Gurgeh, is a member of The Culture with a knack for games; all sorts of games but especially those with high stakes. When Special Circumstances, the part of the culture responsible for helping lesser civilizations, ask for his help on a mission to a planet where games are a way of life he jumps at the chance. But Gurgeh has no clue what he's just gotten into.
Mr. Banks, who has since passed away, was one of the greatest science fiction, or just general, writers of the late 20th/early 21st century. This language of this novel was smart and witty, which Peter Kenny handled with absolute mastery. Like I said, Banks is quite the word crafter and Kenny is quite the narrator.
Here is a series that redefines what science fiction can be, and a great starting place if you want to get into sci-fi. Colorfully imaginative civilizations, engaging characters and prose, there's a lot to love here.
I think I've found a new series be obsessed with, and strongly encourage you to give it a try too!
This was recommended to me as a good starting point into Banks' Culture novels (although technically its book #2) and I enjoyed it immensely.
The narration was fantastic, read at a fairly fast pace but not hard to follow. Kenny adjusts his voice in subtle ways to suggest different people, but does not treat it like an audio play. It felt like a book being expertly read to me. While I have recently grown to appreciate other narration styles, this is just the kind of experience I originally joined Audible for.
I'm disappointed to see that not all of the Culture books are available on Audible, but I'll listen to the ones I can, particularly if they are narrated by Peter Kenny.
A great story. Lately I became tired of the 'kill the evil superior technologically aliens with our low technology but right to exist and propagate in our primitive ways values' kind of science fiction. So I tried to find something of a different kind. And this is just what I was looking for. There is just a tiny obligatory overtone of the above theme. Well developed story. Narration is also excellent.
This book kept my attention. The narrator is good and the subject matter while not my usual fare was engaging.
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.
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