Saturday, May 11, 2013

Use of Weapons, by Iain M. Banks

Rating: 5/5
Publisher: Orbit
486 pages

Description: The man known as Cheradenine Zakalwe was one of Special Circumstances' foremost agents, changing the destiny of planets to suit the Culture through intrigue, dirty tricks, or military action.

The woman known as Diziet Sma had plucked him from obscurity and pushed him towards his present eminence, but despite all their dealings she did not know him as well as she thought.

The drone known as Skaffen-Amtiskaw knew both of these people. It had once saved the woman's life by massacring her attackers in a particularly bloody manner. It believed the man to be a burnt-out case. But not even its machine intelligence could see the horrors in his past. 
(From the back cover)

Review: This is my second foray into Banks' Culture series and I found it to be quite an impressive visit. It wouldn't be a bad starting point to the series, but you learn less about the Culture than you do from The Player of Games.

The book is told in an unusual manor, with two sets of chapters, one going up, and telling the main story in a linear fashion. The other counting down, giving us inverse snippets from the main character's life, prior to the start of the story. This sounds harder to follow than it actually is, and I found it quite effective for the purpose of revealing why he is so fixated on chairs. 

The revelation is rather horrific, as are certain other aspects of the story, and I did figure it, and another revelation out shortly before the story revealed them, but I found them both still quite effective.

While I did find the beginning a bit slow going, but the pace does pick up once things start happening, and the story is worth the wait.

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