Start reading The Player of Games (Culture series Book 2) on your Kindle in under a minute. Don't have a Kindle? Get your Kindle here or start reading now with a free Kindle Reading App.

Deliver to your Kindle or other device

Add Audible Narration
The Player of Games: Culture Series, Book 2 (Unabridged) Narrated by Peter Kenny £16.99 £5.99

Try it free

Sample the beginning of this book for free

Deliver to your Kindle or other device

Sorry, this item is not available in
Image not available for
Image not available

The Player of Games (Culture series Book 2) [Kindle Edition]

Iain M. Banks
4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (140 customer reviews)

Print List Price: £8.99
Kindle Price: £5.99 includes VAT* & free wireless delivery via Amazon Whispernet
You Save: £3.00 (33%)
* Unlike print books, digital books are subject to VAT.

Free Kindle Reading App Anybody can read Kindle books—even without a Kindle device—with the FREE Kindle app for smartphones, tablets and computers.

To get the free app, enter your e-mail address or mobile phone number.

Audible Narration

Switch back and forth between reading the Kindle book and listening to the Audible narration. Add narration for a reduced price of £5.99 after you buy the Kindle book.


Amazon Price New from Used from
Kindle Edition £5.99  
Hardcover --  
Paperback £7.19  
Audio Download, Unabridged £0.00 Free with Audible trial
Audio, CD, Audiobook, Unabridged --  
Unknown Binding --  
Kindle Daily Deal
Kindle Daily Deal: Up to 70% off
Each day we unveil a new book deal at a specially discounted price--for that day only. Learn more about the Kindle Daily Deal or sign up for the Kindle Daily Deal Newsletter to receive free e-mail notifications about each day's deal.

Book Description

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.

Books In This Series (10 Books)
Complete Series

  • Product Description

    Amazon Review

    In The Player of Games, Iain M. Banks presents a distant future that could almost be called the end of history. Humanity has filled the galaxy, and thanks to ultra-high technology everyone has everything they want, no one gets sick, and no one dies. It's a playground society of sports, stellar cruises, parties, and festivals. Jernau Gurgeh, a famed master game player, is looking for something more and finds it when he's invited to a game tournament at a small alien empire. Abruptly Banks veers into different territory. The Empire of Azad is exotic, sensual and vibrant. It has space battle cruisers, a glowing court-- all the stuff of good old science fiction--which appears old-fashioned in contrast to Gurgeh's home. At first it's a relief, but further exploration reveals the empire to be depraved and terrifically unjust. Its defects are gross exaggerations of our own, yet they indict us all the same. Clearly Banks is interested in the idea of a future where everyone can be mature and happy. Yet it's interesting to note that in order to give us this compelling adventure story, he has to return to a more traditional setting. Thoughtful science fiction readers will appreciate the cultural comparisons, and fans of big ideas and action will also be rewarded. -- Brooks Peck


    Few of us have been exposed to a talent so manifest and of such extraordinary breadth (THE NEW YORK REVIEW OF SCIENCE FICTION)

    Poetic, humorous, baffling, terrifying, sexy - the books of Iain M. Banks are all these things and more (NME)

    Banks is an incredibly talented writer. All his books are lively and entertaining. They are laced with a wry humour, fascinating characters and inspired plots. THE PLAYER OF GAMES, I am pleased to say is no exception... Go on, treat yourself, you won't be disappointed. (STARBURST)

    In The Player of Games, Iain M. Banks presents a distant future that could almost be called the end of history. Humanity has filled the galaxy, and thanks to ultra-high technology everyone has everything they want, no one gets sick, and no one dies. It's (Brooks Peck, AMAZON.CO.UK)

    Product details

    • Format: Kindle Edition
    • File Size: 538 KB
    • Print Length: 320 pages
    • Publisher: Orbit; New Ed edition (4 Sept. 2008)
    • Sold by: Amazon Media EU S.à r.l.
    • Language: English
    • ASIN: B002TXZT4I
    • Text-to-Speech: Not enabled
    • X-Ray:
    • Word Wise: Not Enabled
    • Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (140 customer reviews)
    • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #9,565 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
    •  Would you like to give feedback on images?

    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.

    What Other Items Do Customers Buy After Viewing This Item?

    Customer Reviews

    Most Helpful Customer Reviews
    48 of 49 people found the following review helpful
    5.0 out of 5 stars How to let a game take over your life... 14 Mar. 2003
    In "The Player Of Games", an immensely powerful but somewhat lazy and hedonistic man-machine society called the Culture plays a game against the much smaller but aggressively militaristic Empire of Azad. The Empire has as one of its key social drivers a hugely complex board game called Azad (which means Life). Successful players of Azad prosper in the Azadian society, winning promotions in the military and civil service. Every few years the society stages a major tournament at which the best Azad player becomes Emperor.
    Into this milieu the Culture plays its "piece", a professional game-player called Gurgeh who has spent his entire life playing every sort of game of strategy but would probably hurt himself if he tried to use any kind of weapon. Gurgeh's attempts to compete in the Azad tournament reflect the many contrasts between the two civilisations - and also show up unexpected similarities.
    This fine novel can be read in different ways. On one level, it's simply a blast - pacy, exciting, suspenseful widescreen space opera. Read it on a beach and get badly sunburnt. However, there's a lot more depth there if you want it. Banks raises a lot of interesting questions about how we set the rules of our society and how all kinds of play interact with those rules. Are cruelty and ruthlessness taught by game-play - whether in the children's playground or in multiplayer internet shoot-'em-ups - or do people's choice of games tell you about their society? Banks is a known addict of the "Civilization" series of strategy computer games, which many otherwise mild-mannered people play as brutal conquerors and commit acts which in Real Life(TM) would be war crimes. The Culture itself, of course, has gained power and stability at the expense of what one might call "soul".
    Read more ›
    Comment | 
    Was this review helpful to you?
    30 of 32 people found the following review helpful
    5.0 out of 5 stars How to like this book... 31 Jan. 2007
    This is not a book for purists (Iain Banks or Sci Fi). This is the most Culture-d(imho) of Banks' books. All the amusing ship names and foul mouthed witty droids are here, plus excellent alien races and sly and not so sly reference to modern popular culture. There are some great themes about boredom, cheating, redemption and the glory of untamed cultures with primaeval urges and how attractive that can be. The Culture does not come out of this one unscathed; but the rationale for its power and success is evident.

    Banks continues a theme started in Consider Phlebas about the importance of games in a society where much of the danger, and therefore excitement has been diluted by obsessive and overbearing technology - people cannot even die decently and eventually get bored and order themselves to be destroyed; it seems that immortality will eventually suck.

    The visceral thrill that the protagonist feels when he realises that his entire reputation is on the line because he has cheated is relevant to how we currently live today, fairly insulated from excitement or having hygiencally cleansed experiences like bungy jumping to try and reconnect with our limbic system and some more basic pleasures like, fear, lust and anger.

    If you like the Culture element of Banks' books then this is the one to read and if you like a bit of redemption and thoughtfullness then go for it!
    Comment | 
    Was this review helpful to you?
    15 of 16 people found the following review helpful
    5.0 out of 5 stars "No-one ***** with the Culture..." 7 April 2006
    By L. Davidson VINE VOICE
    "The Player of Games" is an exquisitely constructed piece of science-fiction and it is one of the best novels that I have read for some time. Iain M Banks creates a detailed and entirely credible future world populated with a wide range of interesting and intriguing characters. The standard of writing is exceptionally high ,as one would expect from this author, with life on the Chiark Orbital and the Fire Planet Echronedal being portrayed particularly vividly. "The Player of Games" is set against the backdrop of an engagement between the Culture and a newly discovered Empire called the Azad, whose power structure is based around success in an elaborate game of the same name. Chiark Orbital resident and expert games player ,Jernat Gurgeh, is asked by Culture S.C. to participate in the game as a representative of the Culture at the behest of the Azadian Emperor. As the game progresses, Gurgeh finds out that success at this game comes at a much higher price than he could ever have imagined. While the storyline is entertaining and absorbing , the best part of the novel is the backdrop of the clash of values and attitudes between the cruel and aggressive inhabitants of the Azad and the hedonistic, hi-tech cunning of the Culture, which like all of the best science fiction novels mirrors events and conflicts on Earth. The drones ,Mawhrin-Skel and Flere-Imsaho, are wonderful creations as is the talented ,phlegmatic games player , Gurgeh. The book is perfectly paced and builds up steadily, culminating in an exciting finale with a surprising little twist at the end. I would recommend "The Player of Games" not only to science fiction fans , but to mainstream novel readers as well.
    Comment | 
    Was this review helpful to you?
    3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
    5.0 out of 5 stars Ian M Banks - En passant. 10 Jun. 2013
    I have been meaning to read the Iain M Banks novels for several years now, often glancing at the cover and wondering what lies beneath the surface. I embarked on my journey, diving into Consider Phlebas with gusto, having received the 25th Anniversary box set as a birthday present earlier this year. And how timely it was with the recent, sad news of Mr Banks' passing. Whilst people laud the first book as the classic Iain M Banks Culture novel - and it undeniably is the one that provides the momentum to start the ball rolling - I did feel that there was something missing. The Player of Games, for me, has provided that missing gear.

    It is a subtle (and in many ways, not so subtle) story. An intelligent read, lending itself to explore the politics and psychology of the individual and how society shapes one's thoughts. This is more than lasers, masers and space combat in the tour de force of Player of Games; more than merely being painted as "a space opera". It echoes Cold War politics and I often had thoughts of how life would be for the Grand Masters of the great chess tournaments between East and West and the "loneliness of the long distance runner" (or chess player) in crossing these cultural and political barriers, journeying into quite often an "alien" society (and often hitting them head on). Iain M Banks was often hailed as a prescient author. And the "clash of civilisations" affirmed in Consider Phlebas, and gently nodded to in The Player of Games, still resonates today in 21st century geo-politics: the in-depth portrayal of the Azadian state-system in the novel could be North Korea, Iran, Syria, or to a lesser extent, a small number of African states, or even China; lending itself to cold, callous politburo, murderous barbarism and decedent xenophobia.
    Read more ›
    Comment | 
    Was this review helpful to you?
    Would you like to see more reviews about this item?
    Were these reviews helpful?   Let us know
    Most Recent Customer Reviews
    4.0 out of 5 stars Nice read. There are good
    Nice read. There are good, even better books out there, but if you are searching for something positive. Star-trekish I'd say this is must-read.
    Published 9 days ago by Adam Lesniak
    5.0 out of 5 stars My favourite culture novel!
    This is a fantastic read, and I would say it's probably the best culture novel so far. I've recommended it to a few people who've never read Banks and they've almost all enjoyed... Read more
    Published 1 month ago by DAVID
    5.0 out of 5 stars superb sci fi
    A superb read,book 2 culture series is sci fi genius,skillfully written,engrossing,masterpiece
    Published 1 month ago by michael parry
    5.0 out of 5 stars The height of science fiction!
    A book can only be measured by how much of you becomes the story. The late great Mr Banks made sure I was there in person, even if by proxy! Read more
    Published 1 month ago by paul cone
    5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars
    another excellent book in the Culture series
    Published 2 months ago by Mr AN Benford
    5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars
    Brilliant book. Different to the first Culture novel and much better.
    Published 2 months ago by Amazon Customer
    2.0 out of 5 stars Unsatisfying
    After reading rave reviews about Iain Banks' 'hard' sci fi I was very much looking forward to diving into the Culture series of books. Read more
    Published 3 months ago by A. Buyer
    5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars
    Best book in the culture series in my opinion and a great introduction to the culture.
    Published 3 months ago by techboy
    5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars
    Published 3 months ago by 1
    5.0 out of 5 stars good.
    Published 4 months ago by Colin Swarbrick
    Search Customer Reviews
    Only search this product's reviews

    Customer Discussions

    This product's forum
    Discussion Replies Latest Post
    Good SF for a women's reading group... 2 4 Apr 2011
    See all discussions...  
    Start a new discussion
    First post:
    Prompts for sign-in

    Search Customer Discussions

    Look for similar items by category