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Publisher's Summary

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

Critic Reviews

"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)

What members say

Average Customer Ratings

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Story

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An exceptional read.

Loved it. The book is loaded with ideas and concepts any scifi fan will appreciate.

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great story

narrator is wonderful but takes a bit to get acclimated. The world is food for thought and the ship names are humorous.

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Phenomenal creativity and writing

Loved this book so much. From the creative world building to the questions it raises for me about human nature and our perceptions of what a civilized society is.

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Stick with it

It took some time to get into the story. After getting used to the sci-fi I loved it.

I understand why Musk and Zuckerberg love the book and use it as a vision of our possible future.

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Essential Iain M. Banks

A great addition to the culture series. Good vocal performance and an amazing story. A must for sci fi fans.

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Another wonderful Culture story.

great story, really took its time building and the natural progression and ending were quite satisfying.

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Narrator on Fast Forward

I enjoyed this story greatly. The only drawback was the narrator. Was the man mainline Nguyen 5Hour Energy or what? I kept checking to see if the speed was right. It was. He just read like he had to be someplace in the next five minutes.

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A great book

Any additional comments?

I would strongly suggest reading the series from start to finish. This one, however, is one of the highlights on the journey. Masterfully crafted. Beautifully written. Wonderful characters. Cutting social commentary. Brutally honest. <br/><br/>RIP Mr. Banks. This book has made you immortal.

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Enthralling (My First Culture Novel)

I never once "phased out" and needed to rewind. I'd often find myself sitting in my car, listening, well after I'd arrived at my destination. I can't recommend this enough.

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Excellent as an Intro to The Culture

What did you love best about The Player of Games?

This was my first foray into the Culture series and I fell in love with the setting. The Player of Games is listed as book two, but its story is self-contained and serves as a fine introduction to the universe. Banks hands out little nuggets of information about his world as the story goes on, such that the reader is constantly intrigued by the characteristics and vast scope of The Culture without ever getting mired in heavy world-building.

What did you like best about this story?

The story of master game player Jernau Gurgeh is well imagined and interesting. At times while reading I thought it linear and bland, but at the conclusion of the book Banks reveals a new layer of complexity and design behind the story. I won't spoil the finish for you, but to say that The Culture is as much a character in the plot as anyone else is. <br/><br/>My one complaint with the story is that the characters spend much of their time playing games that are never adequately explained. I would have loved to know more about the rules and strategies of Azad and the purpose behind them. As it is, I never felt invested in the game. This hampered my enjoyment of the many game-playing sequences, though they still moved the plot along easily, and after all they aren't the most important part.

Which character – as performed by Peter Kenny – was your favorite?

The drone Mawhrin-Skel. Kenny voices all of the drones well, but Mawhrin-Skel stood out as unique. Flere-Imsaho was also quite amusing. Kenny does a good job of navigating the made-up names of all of the characters. He pronounces them confidently, which helped minimize my confusion early in the story. <br/><br/>Peter Kenny's performance is one of my my favorites in my library. He is the perfect choice for the story, and handles the critical revelation at the end very, very well.

Did you have an extreme reaction to this book? Did it make you laugh or cry?

I laughed on a couple of occasions. Banks interjects moments of humor into dialogue and into a couple of narrating segments that took me pleasantly by surprise. Though far from an outright comedy, the book is written with a tone that stops just short of taking itself too seriously.

Any additional comments?

A good introduction to a classic sci-fi universe. I can't wait to start my next Culture novel.