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A Song Of Stone Paperback – 7 Aug 1997

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Product details

  • Paperback: 280 pages
  • Publisher: Abacus; 1st edition (7 Aug. 1997)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0316640166
  • ISBN-13: 978-0316640169
  • Product Dimensions: 16.6 x 2.7 x 24.3 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 2.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (57 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 1,989,311 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 gained enormous popular and critical acclaim for both his mainstream and his science fiction novels. Iain Banks died in June 2013.

Product Description

Amazon Review

Iain M. Banks paints a grim picture of a European nation after a bloody battle. Armed forces roam the lawless land where dark columns of smoke rise up from the surrounding farms and houses. For a young lord and lady, however, the trouble is only starting.

The couple are being kept captive in their home--a castle--by a sadistic female lieutenant from an outlaw band of guerillas. They are pawns in her dangerous game of desire, deceit, and death. The physical, sexual and political tensions that ensue catapult the narrative from war story to universal morality tale. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.


His satire is exquisitely poised, his storytelling gripping. (INDEPENDENT)

Entertaining...comically inspired. (GUARDIAN)

A phenomenon! (WILLIAM GIBSON)

An apocalyptic masterpiece (FINANCIAL TIMES)

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Customer Reviews

2.8 out of 5 stars

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Procrastinators rule in a minute on 6 Feb. 2014
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
I first read this years ago; possibly late 90s/early oos - so definitely before Amazon reviews took off! I've read a fair bit since then, but ASOS has come back to me at various times, although over the years more and more intertwined with a children's book I also vaguely remember reading about social breakdown and soliders (Noah's Castle is the nearest book I can find, but I'm still not convinced it was the one).

Banks is one of the few authors I can read over again, so, being that the general negativity towards ASOS, I thought I'd read it as a fully fledged adult.

I think I possibly enjoyed it more this time; I certainly don't have the vague, fuzzy feeling I was left with last time (or is that, quite simply, time?) The castle is, in its solemnity and final indignity, the main character in the novel: it appears to exert some power over its inhabitants and even the Lieutenant which makes them unable to leave entirely - even if it should be their destruction. Possibly the castle represents a hierarchical society which binds people even afer less physical structures have crumbled; possibly it's a physical manifestation of refuge and safety individuals can't find anywhere else.

In fact, starting this review has again made me realise how much I enjoyed the novel, but am probably in danger of slipping into an essay if I continue. And it's been many years since I wrote an essay at bedtime.

We are able to feel superior to the main character, as he appears to be the only one blind to the true extent of te ways in which society has changed.

The Lieutenant appears to be the most interesting character in the novel, althogh one wonders whether this another trick: does she only appear interesting because a.
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Format: Paperback
Book Review: A Song of Stone by Iain Banks
A Song of StoneA Song of Stone by Iain Banks
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

The Song of Stone is Iain Banks 9th novel published in 1997, but he had already written another 8 Science Fiction novels under the name Iain M Banks, so a consistent output of almost two book a year at least over ten years.

As with most of the non-Science Fiction this book is fairly political in tone, and I read it the year of its publication in paperback. It was clear to all that this novel was speaking of the unimaginable brutality and horror which was the Bosnian war of 1992-1995. Due a split in the EU, the germans siding with their historic allies the Serbians and the rest of Europe wanting to help the Bosnian Muslims, this is the war Europe watched each night on its televisions, but did little to intervene except by its absence. The carnage and cruelty was unlike anything Europe had ever seen. Still nothing was done.

In A Song of Stone, Iain Banks reflects on the culpability of Europe by placing a similar conflict this time in his homeland which was the lowlands of Scotland. He puts the spotlight on a crumbling stately home and its useless over educated but under skilled aristocratic yet likeable owners, and then throws them in the way of pure cruelty.

I won't say much about the story, except that it is horrific in its slow paced incremental daily increase in needless violence. the kind of which only goes unchecked when all forms of states have evaporated, and in the end this small castle and its occupants come to represent the entire state of Bosnia, and their cruel needless suffering similarly.

It's hard to recommend this book, Iain Banks is, as always, creative, and the inventive horror stays with you long after you have closed the pages.

Still once you start its unput-downable. You have been warned.
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7 of 8 people found the following review helpful By Cloudy on 9 Aug. 2011
Format: Paperback
I've read this book so many times over the years and I'm astonished at the negative reviews on here.
Yes it's a bleak future vision but it's much, much more than that.
Superficially it may be an apocalyptic tale of a lawless land overrun by marauding private militia but the real themes are about the relationship between the narrator and his castle and all who have dwelt there.
I choose my words carefully as one of the fascinating puzzles of the novel is exactly what the relationship between him and the woman of the house is. The relationship that develops between her and the "lieutenant" of the occupying soldiers is subtly and cleverly drawn.
I'm a big fan of Iain Banks but without doubt Song of Stone is among my favourites of his many books. 100% recommended.
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6 of 7 people found the following review helpful By "jo_garbutt" on 12 Nov. 2002
Format: Paperback
This is a difficult book to read. There's something hard in the first person narration with every action and description firmly and coldly played out. The narration is intense but has a strange lyrical quality, one of the main reasons that I managed to stay with the book. The lead character is not a person the reader would easily understand or get to grips with. The Song of Stone reminded me a lot of Canal Dreams, another Iain Banks book, which includes a similar situation of invaders attacking but with that book, there was a different sense of the main character wanting to be freed from her isolation. This is unlike The Song of Stone which is heavily isolated and extremely cold. Still worth a read though not my favourite of his books.
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