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Publisher's Summary

A world that hangs suspended between triumph and catastrophe, between the dismantling of the Wall and the fall of the Twin Towers, frozen in the shadow of suicide terrorism and global financial collapse, such a world requires a firm hand and a guiding light. But does it need the Concern: an all-powerful organisation with a malevolent presiding genius, pervasive influence and numberless invisible operatives in possession of extraordinary powers?

On the Concern's books are Temudjin Oh, an un-killable assassin who journeys between the peaks of Nepal, a version of Victorian London and the dark palaces of Venice; and a nameless, faceless torturer known only as the Philosopher. And then there's the renegade Mrs Mulverhill, who recruits rebels to her side; and Patient 8262, hiding out from a dirty past in a forgotten hospital ward.

As these vivid, strange and sensuous worlds circle and collide, the implications of turning traitor to the Concern become horribly apparent, and an unstable universe is set on a dizzying course.

©2009 Iain Banks; (P)2009 Hachette Digital

What members say

Average Customer Ratings

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  • Overall
  • Peter
  • Ashton, Australia
  • 09-25-10

Complicated but a great ending.

If you like your stories complicated, you'll love Transition. Just keep track of which character is currently narrating and you'll be thoroughly entertained.

Iain Banks once again applies his unique perspectives and sporadic comedic genius to a supremely well thought-out plot constructed of ideas not often approached with such enthusiasm and expressed in such detail.

Very deep and philosophical in parts; sometimes long-winded but never boring. Definitely worth the time just for the last few chapters - especially the final paragraph of the epilogue. Very satisfying end.

Be aware of graphic sex and violence however the more elaborate and unconventional occasions are highly entertaining, even if occasionally too in-depth.

Narrator is excellent as always. Peter Kenny also read The Wasp Factory and has no trouble keeping the many and greatly varying character roles distinct and true to their natures. Australian and American accents are weaker but not only very brief in the story. Very glad that the reader is British.

2 of 2 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
  • Performance
  • Story

Hard to see what the fuss is about

What disappointed you about Transition?

Two hours into it, and I'm still not sure why I'm listening, whether there is a plot and why the characters are meant to be interesting.

What was most disappointing about Iain Banks’s story?

The plot is very oblique, disjointed, and nothing that smacks of the brilliance of Excession, The Algebraist or Surface Detail.

What did you like about the performance? What did you dislike?

Peter Kenny, a great narrator, doesn't really shine either, because there is so much text by the first person writer.

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  • Overall
  • Mike
  • 11-10-09

Audio book of the year

This manages to get past the troubling multi-character recounting of the plot by the skillful vocal work of the narrator. At no point are you unsure about who is leading the story. A witty, evocative and sly piece of storytelling, greatly enhanced by being an audio book. What the medium was intended for. Fantastic.

4 of 4 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
  • Alison Page
  • 09-21-09

Oh boy

I haven't finsihed this yet but I'm really enjoying it. I think it's the best by him I have read/heard for some time. In addition the reading is lively and characterful, well suiting the tone of the book.

The premise - revealed pretty early on so I don't think this is a spoiler - is a bunch of people leaping from body to body in Quantum Leap style, but rather than back and forth within history, between an infinitude of parallel Earths. Banks has an unusually powerful imagination, and he's used it to render each world with depth of detail in a quick vignette, rather than to produce a shallow cavalcade of implausible exotica. The writing too is controlled and either lyrical or cynical as it needs to be.

8 of 9 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
  • Andy
  • 01-20-12

Does this help?

Hmm I too was confused by this book. I then read some of the culture series.

Now imagine what it would be like if Special Circumstances felt they needed to intervene on a more or less contemporary earth.
They obviously would not be in the business of explaining themselves to anyone, least of all you!

It does work without that back story but it is much more fun with it in mind; so I would strongly recommend you try one or more of the Culture series,then see if you don't think Mrs Mulverhill has SC written all over her!

3 of 3 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
  • Stewart
  • 08-11-10

Intriguing

Iain Banks has always written 'straight' fiction and science fiction. Most of his books are one or the other while in Transition the two elements come together gloriously.
His earlier novels, bursting with ideas rattled along at a breathtaking pace, as he has matured his writing has slowed and taken a deeper more complex, considered flavour.
I love the questions he appears to answer and those he leaves the reader to try and unravel. This is a fine story, well written and starring a host of wonderfully diverse characters and scenarios.

2 of 2 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
  • Performance
  • Story
  • mazzz
  • 02-16-16

I nearly gave up but persevered. interesting story

but not as satisfying as some of his other works of sci-fi. The Philosopher parts were difficult to stomach

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
  • Mr
  • 04-13-13

Fantastic!

Kenny has a great voice and provides all the characters with a real personality you can feel. It's almost as if he truly takes on the personality and inner thoughts of each person, he is an inspired narrator. The story brings together many great themes from traditional science fiction in a refreshing way, and we get many hints to higher themes within the story. It jumps between each character at just the right time to keep your attention, it was very difficult to turn off. All in all a fantastic package, would recommend to anyone who is interested in parallel universes and higher power conspiracy theories.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
  • Steven
  • 04-07-11

Transition - the 'Sliding Doors' of novels

A well narrated and nicely paced listen. Those familiar with the sci-fi of Iain M Banks will immediately feel at home with Transition, and will half expect a Culture reference round every corner. Another Banks universe(or should that be universes) to explore; I hope there are more but its satisfying enough on its own if thats all there is to be.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
  • Stephen
  • 02-27-10

Best Audiobook ever!

Until recently I have been listening to audible books on my hour or so journeys to work and this one kept me rivetted all the way. I found myself looking forward to the end of work more than ever before and somewhat bizarely being disappointed to get home. Peter Kenny has the perfect voice for Banks. The swirling cast of characters and the tight plotted made for an exhilarating read. In less skilled hand this could have been an example of an author overreaching themself. Here it is a triumphant tour-de-force. Well done Audible for sourcing an unabridged version. Where's the rest of his books guys. Someone chain Peter Kenny to the microphone until he's done the lot!

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
  • David
  • 01-03-10

Loved It!

Though provoking, imaginative and an amazing 'read'. The best book I have read for a long time and with a little surprise at the end too.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
  • Boledylocks
  • 11-16-09

Wordsmithery at its bestest

Ive read all but one (The Bridge) of Iain Banks's books and I've liked most and loved some. This is definitively in the loved camp. How can he offer so slight a description and paint such a huge canvas. Peter Kenny's voices brought each caracter to life, each with far flung personality differences. How could the author conceive of the caracter Buisquitine yet how could she come to life other than through Kenny's voice. I craved so much for continuance that on completion I started it again and got even more out of it the second time. I'm obsessing over reading it again but I've decided to follow the excellent narration to my next read and come back to Transition a little later. After all, its where I live.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful