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Consider Phlebas [Paperback]

Iain M Banks
4.1 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (165 customer reviews)

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Book Description

26 Mar 2008
"Dazzlingly original." -- Daily Mail
"Gripping, touching and funny." -- TLS

The war raged across the galaxy. Billions had died, billions more were doomed. Moons, planets, the very stars themselves, faced destruction, cold-blooded, brutal, and worse, random. The Idirans fought for their Faith; the Culture for its moral right to exist. Principles were at stake. There could be no surrender.

Within the cosmic conflict, an individual crusade. Deep within a fabled labyrinth on a barren world, a Planet of the Dead proscribed to mortals, lay a fugitive Mind. Both the Culture and the Idirans sought it. It was the fate of Horza, the Changer, and his motley crew of unpredictable mercenaries, human and machine, actually to find it, and with it their own destruction.


Product details

  • Paperback: 527 pages
  • Publisher: Orbit; Reprint edition (26 Mar 2008)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 031600538X
  • ISBN-13: 978-0316005388
  • Product Dimensions: 21 x 15.4 x 3.5 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.1 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (165 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 3,600,722 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

Review

'Banks is a phenomenon: the wildly successful, fearlessly creative author of brilliant and disturbing non-genre novels, he's equally at home writing pure science fiction of a perculiarly gnarly energy and elegance' William Gibson 'There is now no British SF writer to whose work I look forward with greater keenness' The Times 'Poetic, humourous, baffling, terrifying, sexy - the books of Iain M. Banks are all these things and more' NME --This text refers to the Perfect Paperback edition.

Book Description

The first Culture novel - 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
48 of 49 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Thankyou Iain 5 April 2013
Format:Paperback
In the light of the news of the author's terminal cancer, I wanted to say something that could maybe express my condolences to him and thank him for creating a collection of stories that have, quite simply, outshone anything else I have read in my 46 years.
The Culture series have formed the bedrock of my reading for the last 24 years, since I first picked up Consider Phlebas. Subsequent novels have expanded and complicated the Culture universe, but for me this first book is the best. The final section set in the underground tunnels is so evocatively written it gives me goosebumps to this day just thinking about it. Beautifully paced and pitched, devastatingly emotional in the juxtaposition of the close-up personal tragedies it describes and the ultimately futile, almost unnoticed effect of the episode on the war itself. I have re-read Consider Phlebas many times and I am in awe of the man who could dream up such fantasy and tease out so many emotions in the reader by the manner in which he writes. Thankyou Iain for the legacy of your talents. I am (selfishly) bereft that there will be no more Culture novels, but that pales next to the news you gave us two days ago. You are the writer that gave me the gift of reading, and for that I will be ever grateful.
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18 of 18 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Surprisingly enjoyable 7 Sep 2011
By RoverP
Format:Paperback
I don't usually read science fiction but I picked this up just to try something different. The title, the list of contents and the small font all gave me the feeling that this was not going to be an easy read. I was wrong! One's interest is captured early on and empathy with the main character stays with you through to the end. That does not mean that Horza is a nice character or a good character - it is just that you sympathise with his plight.

The characters develop well as the story unfolds and the outcome is always in doubt. Much is left unresolved at the end but the end is not an unsatisfying one. For all the adventures and achievements of one person in a war, ultimately they count for little in the scale of things.

Whether an author's fantasy is founded in fact or is just pure imagination, science fiction allows the author to get away with the most ridiculous nonsense which is why I tend to dislike the genre. Banks clearly lets his imagination run riot and has some fun with it but the reason this book works is that this imagination is not the core of the book. Rather it is a vessel in which to play out a morality tale of someone caught between two sides in a conflict and his attitudes to and relationships with those on either side or none.

Banks never lets the absurdity of the imagined worlds and behaviours over-power the moral dilemmas and relationships at the heart of the story and as a result one keeps turning the pages. Despite the fears this was a genuinely enjoyable read.
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7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Great story well told 23 April 2008
Format:Paperback
This is my first Iain Banks Novel and proved to be an absorbing and thrilling read. (Thks Mark). The plot (set in the backdrop of a Galatic war between the Idirans and the Culture) moves along at a nice pace and develops characters to a degree that you quickly sympathise with them even when they're diametrically opposed.

Bank's imagination is un-surpassed as you experience orbitals, GSV's, quirky robots,a life threatening game of poker called damage and much more..

The ending is a little disappointing but serves to emphasise that you have just read about the experiences of a small band of mercenaries, caught up in huge conflict played out over unimaginable distances spanning many years. (Also liked the small appendices at the back of the book detailing the reasons for the war)

On the whole this is a good introduction to Ian Banks and I would not hesitate in recommending this book to anyone.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
Format:Paperback
Consider Phlebas by Iain M. Banks
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

I have read all of Iain M Banks books, and I read Consider Phlebas the year after it was first published in 1988, and it has stayed with me ever since.

This is a Culture book. In fact more than that it is the first Culture book. It is interesting to speculate that when Iain M Banks wrote this story he definitely was not thinking about a series or a trilogy, but as a stand alone novel.

To recap The ten books of the Culture are: Consider Phlebas, 1987; The Player of Games,1988; Use of Weapons, 1990; The State of the Art, 1991; Excession, 1996; Inversions, 1998; Look to Windward,2000; Matter,2008; Surface Detail, 2010; The Hydrogen Sonata, 2012.

The story of Consider Phlebas, is not the tale of Phlebas. But it is the story of a hero. The hero in question is Horza the Changer. He is a shape shifter who has been caught up in a war between Culture and Idirans. Because both sides found their shape shifting capabilities useful, both sides have in turn used them, then exterminated them. Now only Horza is left.

Horza was once an Idirian spy, and is an implacable enemy of the Culture. His story is a tragedy, because amidst their war strategies, The Culture have dispatched one of their agents to try and save Horza, as they pity him the last of his species. I won't say much about the story, but it is 600 pages of deeply plotted, intensively complicated war, betrayal, stupidity, cupidity, death and destruction.

I think it is quite hard to grasp until one has dipped into this book, how much colour depth and complexity Iain M Banks puts into what is a very traditional Space Opera.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars A forever classic
A forever classic. RIP Mr Banks
Published 1 day ago by Jonathan May
5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars
class
Published 2 days ago by Jonathan
5.0 out of 5 stars Great reading!!
Great book, good story with excellent descriptions of both the characters and the machines.
Published 6 days ago by n madsen
5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars
My favourite banks
Published 13 days ago by Jason Reynolds
5.0 out of 5 stars Consider This, Alien Bad Guy - *kakakaboom*
Okay, no-one writing science-fiction is gonna be bagging literary plaudits any time soon and, reading Banks, you’re not going to find a Dalloway-esque stream of consciousness... Read more
Published 15 days ago by Joe Llewellyn
1.0 out of 5 stars Goes on and on but nothing really happens; among the most boring books...
I bought this Banks when I heard he was dying: The Culture was a series I'd never heard of, and I felt I owed it to a big name to read one of his works. But... Read more
Published 15 days ago by Chris Worth
1.0 out of 5 stars Not for me
Execution by drowning in excrement. How childish can you get? I struggled on in vain; this stuff is not for me.
Published 21 days ago by Richard J. Taylor
5.0 out of 5 stars If you like the Halo video games
If you like the Halo video games, you'll love this book. I read this book before I played Halo and although they have nothing to do with each other, there was a sense that the... Read more
Published 24 days ago by Kieran Jeffery
5.0 out of 5 stars Barn storming space piracy on an epic scale
I loved the whole tone and execution of this book.

Basically about a bunch of space pirates storming locations and stealing treasure who become entangled in a political... Read more
Published 1 month ago by Amazon Customer
4.0 out of 5 stars Excellent read.
Excellent read. Banks weaves an interesting tale set within a rich and detailed universe.
Published 1 month ago by c j darling
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