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Against A Dark Background [Hardcover]

Iain M. Banks
3.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (63 customer reviews)

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Book Description

27 May 1993
Sharrow was once a warrior-spy and leader of a combat team. Living in a state of semi-retirement, she suddenly found herself the target of the Huhsz, a religious cult, and realised that she had to find and reform her old team if she had any hope of survival. By the author of the "Culture" sequence.

Product details

  • Hardcover: 488 pages
  • Publisher: Orbit (27 May 1993)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1857230310
  • ISBN-13: 978-1857230314
  • Product Dimensions: 23.6 x 15.6 x 4.6 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 3.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (63 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 593,171 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Iain Banks came to widespread and controversial public notice with the publication of his first novel, THE WASP FACTORY, in 1984. He has since gained enormous popular and critical acclaim for both his mainstream and his science fiction novels.

Product Description


'Banks ain't kidding. He warned you up front that this is a dark novel' Norman Spinrad 'Few of us have been exposed to a talent so manifest and of such extraordinary breadth' The New York Review of Science Fiction 'There is now no British SF writer to whose work I look forward with greater keenness' The Times --This text refers to the Perfect Paperback edition.

Book Description

A Culture novel from a modern master of science fiction - a tour de force of brilliant storytelling, world-building and imagination --This text refers to the Perfect Paperback edition.

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
16 of 16 people found the following review helpful
By Jane Aland VINE VOICE
'Against A Dark Background' is the tale of a woman forced to find a mythical reality-warping weapon before she can be executed by a crazed religious cult. Iain (M) Banks 4th science fiction novel is his first not to be set in his 'Culture' series of novels, though there are a few surface similarities with 'Consider Phlebas' as this is another novel featuring a group of trigger-happy mercenaries on the trail of a powerful artefact. Essentially a quest novel, 'Against a Dark Background' is full of striking science fiction imagery (city-sized plant-life; a monastery where the inhabitants are chained to the walls; a backwards God-hating society), compelling characters (particularly the heroine and her poisonous relationship with her half-sister, and a rather lovable robot who joins the adventure looking for new experiences), a twisty plot, and a suprising amount of humour. Unfortunately however it doesn't quite add up to a satisfactory whole, with the climax complete with a rather cheesy melodramatic villain and an over-complex plot, but for fans of well-written action-packed science fiction there is plenty of enjoyment to be had along the way. Slightly less than the sum of it's parts, this is an enjoyable tale but not quite up to Banks best work.
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29 of 30 people found the following review helpful
My copy of this book is well worn; I no longer let it leave the house, despite the fact that I have found few people as fanatical about it. Why does it grab me so? The title says it all -- it is a true, dark piece of science fiction. Heros die. Love goes unrequited. Revenge is spiteful and slow in building. This is dark pathos woven in and around what could have been a very protected and innocent life. It is the tale of corruption, of loss, of bitter-sweet victories set against the near comic backdrop of desire, tragedy and a good-ole treasure hunt.
The fact that this is not a Culture novel is at the core of Banks' creativity. He has kept the scale within a solar system, invented from scratch the history, politics, religion, militia and sociology of a corner of the universe. That, in it's intimate nature, makes the story all the more believable.
Read this book many times. --->> Aim Here <<---
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars A good read but why so many formatting errors? 3 Jun 2012
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
I've always enjoyed this author and this book in particular, fantastic plot, characters and humour so I bought the Kindle version the other day. Someone from the publisher really should proof read it. For some reason random words get hyphenated on almost every page. It's enough to drive you to distraction. I myself have two Kindle books for sale as a self published author and have been criticised once for bad proofing and made every effort to sort it out. How come a mainstream publishing house can be so unprofessional??
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars A cracking read but.... 5 Sep 2011
By Richard
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
... the layout of the ebook is absolutely terrible.

Hyphenated words appear mid line for no app-are-nt rea-son, scene changes seem to happen as if by magic without new paragraphs and I swear that one section must be missing a paragraph (or even a page) as the plot inexplicably jumps from one section to a totally unrelated one without any obvious sign.

Please publishers, sort this out.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
By A Customer
If you have read any of Iain M Banks sci-fi novels, you know you are in for a powerful, mind-blowing experience... Having read most of them, this stands out as my sure favourite. The characters are exquisitely crafted, and the plot, whilst being along vein of the archetypal quest, has enough twists and turns to shock, elevate and emotionally bowl you over. Save this one for a special occasion - and try not to embarrass yourself too much, as I did on the tube, when you get to the last fifty pages.... Compulsive stuff.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars One of his best 9 Feb 2014
By Brian P
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
I've read all of Iain's Culture novels, but I missed this non-culture one first time round so I thought I would catch up with it on my Kindle, and I wasn't disappointed. It has all his invention and his usual fast moving plot with believable characters , as usual interspersed with flash-backs. I think the final chapter is one of his best ever.
The only annoyance with otherwise perfect formatting was that the soft hyphens from the book were left in - very sloppy.
Brian Price
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Poor Kindle conversion 22 Jun 2013
By Fredsie
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
(Rating for conversion only.)
Yet another sloppy text conversion job; it seems that all words split with hyphens in the original justified text still carry the hyphens even though they now appear in the middle of a line. This is not a hard thing to sort out, I could programme it myself. The publishers should show more embarrassment.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Excellent book, shoddily converted 11 April 2014
By Mark
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
This a a really good book -- full of classic Banks humour and ideas -- but this Kindle version is disgraceful. As other readers have noted, no attempt has been made by the publisher to deal with the hyphenation inherited from the original print version, which causes substantial readability problems. I've returned it.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars
Fabulous book from a much missed author
Published 8 days ago by silas currie
5.0 out of 5 stars I <3 Iain M Banks
This guy is a genius! I have loved every single book & this is my last for Iain M Banks:-( Luckily I've still got some Iain Banks left to read:-)
As with all his books, I've... Read more
Published 18 days ago by Ria
4.0 out of 5 stars challenging but satisfying
Iain M Banks is a glorious writer. This book is a grand epic with deeply drawn characters and phenomenal landscapes. Read more
Published 4 months ago by PauseToThink
5.0 out of 5 stars RIP to the best Auther from Scotland
What a book what an imagination
What a world to live in

The book looked new the book was delivered on time the book is assume
Published 5 months ago by Mike
5.0 out of 5 stars Good read
I bought this for my husband, and he's nearly got the full set now. I'll be reading it when he's finished it, as he says that it's a gripping storyline.
Published 9 months ago by hillymilly
4.0 out of 5 stars The likeable and the flawed
All the invention to be expected from Banks is present here but what made "Against a Dark Background" most engaging for me was the way the mixture of likeable characters contrasted... Read more
Published 11 months ago by Carolingian
4.0 out of 5 stars Always good
Love most of Iain Banks scifi stuff. This is an older one and not as good as some others, but still most enjoyable. Very sad there will be no more.
Published 12 months ago by M. Sheridan
5.0 out of 5 stars Brilliant
One of the modern classic sci fi books. Banks has such a wide ranging imagination; his writing is also witty and thought provoking. Read more
Published 13 months ago by chris
4.0 out of 5 stars The Book
Received product as stated. Good product did what it said. Would recommend to friends. again. Many thanks for quick response.
Published 14 months ago by john
5.0 out of 5 stars My favourite book...
...ever. I never read books twice, but this one gets better with each reading. The story, tension, characters and tech ideas kept me gripped.
Published 17 months ago by jonatk
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Have they fixed the Kindle edition yet? 1 23 Jun 2012
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