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53 of 54 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars It was the day my grandmother exploded.
Prentice is a 22-year-old student in Glasgow, just back to his own little town of Gallanach for his grandmother's funeral. It's mostly through his eyes that we're introduced to the McHoan's family, as well as all the other funny characters that people this book. It can maybe take a while in the beginning not to get lost among all their names, not to speak about the many...
Published on 11 May 2010 by Alessandra F.

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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Crow Road
Nice wee twist at the end, though I had suspected it for a while through the book. Iain Banks is not for the faint hearted though, but this first novel certainly rattles on apace to a suitable ending.
Published 13 months ago by DerekO


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53 of 54 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars It was the day my grandmother exploded., 11 May 2010
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This review is from: The Crow Road (Paperback)
Prentice is a 22-year-old student in Glasgow, just back to his own little town of Gallanach for his grandmother's funeral. It's mostly through his eyes that we're introduced to the McHoan's family, as well as all the other funny characters that people this book. It can maybe take a while in the beginning not to get lost among all their names, not to speak about the many flashbacks that Banks uses to unfold his plot, but it's all worth the effort. Little by little you'll start putting together all the pieces in the story of the McHoan's clan, until the moment you'll find out its deepest secret... "The Crow Road" is a really entertaining book, well written and really funny most of the time. I suppose when you start a book with a sentence like "It was the day my grandmother exploded", you're really setting the tone for the entire book!

For the most curious of you, I leave you with a passage I particularly enjoyed...

"People can be teachers and idiots; they can be philosophers and idiots; they can be politicians and idiots... in fact I think they have to be... a genious can be an idiot. The world is largely run for and by idiots; it is no great handicap in life and in certain areas is actually a distinct advantage and even a prerequisite for advancement".
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15 of 16 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Enter the world of Prentice McHoan, 21 Jun. 2009
By 
Victoriana_Mad "AJS" (Coulsdon, Surrey, UK) - See all my reviews
This review is from: The Crow Road (Paperback)
This is only the second Iain Banks novel that I have read, the first being The Wasp Factory. Consequently, I really wasn't sure what to expect - would this be similarly dark and psychological? In some ways, yes, but essentially it is a sweeping family saga, crossing three (and almost four) generations. Despite the interweaving threads and movements back and forwards in time, Iain Banks' writing makes the story easy to follow. This is partly due to the strongly drawn characters; each is distinctive and memorable without resorting to caricature. What I loved most was the shifts between comedy, pathos, tragedy and suspense, all carefully orchestrated and never jarring. For me, it was a book that totally drew me in and I thoroughly looked forward to escaping into it on my commute to and from work each day.
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36 of 40 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars One of the greatest British novels of the 1990s, 18 Sept. 2000
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This review is from: The Crow Road (Paperback)
Banks is a pretty honest fellow. As a writer he doesn't consciously set out to make his heros and heroines 'good', infact he certainly packs them with faults and foibles. A bit like real people in fact. Prentice is the same, and he's all the more enjoyable to listen to for it. "The Crow Road" is supremely enjoyable and, as has been said already, works in every way, delivering what you want out of it. When I first read it it spoke to me about the confusions of leaving your teenage years behind and the need to mature. Now, it's a rattling good murder mystery with some rather scathing politico dialogue thrown in. But there's more in the mix and you'd have to find it out for yourself.
When Banks signed my battered old copy a couple of years back he smiled at the state of the cracked and dog-eared and well-thumbed book, then he wrote "Ha!" on the last page which, if you've read it, you'll understand.
Love it.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The Crow Road, 3 Feb. 2014
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This review is from: The Crow Road (Kindle Edition)
What happened to Uncle Rory? That is the essence of this story, and the after effects of his sudden disappearance on his extended family. He was a much loved person, who traveled widely and appeared unannounced to his family when it suited him. Prentice (his nephew - and son of a schoolmaster) is the storyteller, who tries to explain the effect Uncle Rory had on the family. He was much loved, and held up as as hero to the younger members of the family. Prentice tries to find out what happened to Rory, with not a lot of help from his family. Prentice, at University, grows up fast, but never loses track of his goal - to find Uncle Rory. Friends come and go, but several stick around to help Prentice with his search. A book I read years ago, and watched the TV adaptation, which I enjoyed - fairly true to the book. I enjoyed this as a leisurely read, savouring every twist and turn of the plot. A good read from an exceptional story teller.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Crow Road, 21 Feb. 2014
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This review is from: The Crow Road (Kindle Edition)
Nice wee twist at the end, though I had suspected it for a while through the book. Iain Banks is not for the faint hearted though, but this first novel certainly rattles on apace to a suitable ending.
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50 of 57 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Magnum Opus, 29 Aug. 2006
By 
J.R.Hartley (NW England) - See all my reviews
(VINE VOICE)   
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This review is from: The Crow Road (Paperback)
Not just Iain Banks' biggest book, but his best in my opinion. This sprawling tale of dark family secrets and unrequited love is a modern classic and highlights Banks' talent for characterisation and believable cringeworthy situations. His heroes are never without their flaws and never lose their ability to strike a chord with the reader and such is the case with the sardonic, smart alec Prentice.

Iain Banks books are always easy to read but this one requires a tad more discipline than his others as it's not always immediately obvious which of the many characters is narrating each chapter. However, the book flows beautifully and builds to a magnificent and unexpected climax.

A great read for confirmed Banks fans and the unitiated alike who wish to indulge themselves in a great read. Hats off, Mr Banks.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The Crow Road is not The Wasp Factory, and the “twist” in the plot is not all that unpredictable, 6 April 2014
This review is from: The Crow Road (Paperback)
The whole story, quite significantly, kicks off at a funeral – one of a series of funerals in the book. The title – “the crow road”, we learn, is from an expression meaning that somebody has died, or “gone down the crow road”.

The Crow Road is a fascinating book in many ways. It is the second Banks book I have read – I read Banks’ debut novel, The Wasp Factory a few weeks ago. I was shocked and horrified (but also intrigued) by the distinct difference in style between the two books.

Whereas The Wasp Factory is a horror-thriller with a “trashy” feel to it (although the trademark, copyright, patented Iain Banks twist saves The Wasp Factory from being your average trash novel), the Crow Road is completely different.

It took me a good 100 pages to get the hang of the style Banks uses in this book – I am not sure if this is because I am particularly daft, because I was expecting something else, or because it is supposed to be like that – but it has been a while since I have read books that were truly non-linear. This book – although it has complex and intricate developments in storyline throughout – is very non-linear.

Prentice McHoan – the narrator in this story – is basically the story of his life over a non-defined period of time. The whole story is narrated in past tense, but some of the sections are more past that others. Spread troughout the novel, with only sporadic references to what time perspective the different anecdotes have in relation to each other, Banks takes the reader on a frequently frustrating ride. Specifically, when the anecdotes are at their climax, the silly little asterisk1 warns you that there is another jump in time, and you have to plough through another 25 pages of other anecdotes (which, in turn, will keep you on edge), before continuing the story at the previous climax.

1) Be sure to watch out for the * marks. Every now and then I had to go back and re-read several pages because the story line stopped making sense, only to discover I had overlooked the little * signifying that something happens to the narrative

It might be worth noting that Prentice doesn’t have the entire narrative either – every now and then an undefined omniscent narrator steps in and tells you sections of the story that Prentice finds out about later – strange, but it works really well.

In a very clever way, Iain Banks has managed to write book with several parallel story lines about one persons’ life (and the people who – either directly or indirectly – affect him)

Granted – The Crow Road is not The Wasp Factory, and the “twist” in the plot is not all that unpredictable. However, the sheer readability and literary value of the book is definitely significantly higher in The Crow Road then many of the other books I have read the last few years.
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10 of 11 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars THE CROW ROAD, 29 April 2013
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This review is from: The Crow Road (Kindle Edition)
I found the going backward and forward in time confusing and the relationship between the characters also hard to follow. The ending of the book almost Gilbertian. It took me almost hundred pages to identify all the characters. Most of the humour excellent. Still an enjoyable read.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Best Banks so far!, 1 Aug. 2014
This review is from: The Crow Road (Paperback)
The Crow Road is excellent. It’s a cross between a family saga and a whodunit. It spans several generations of a big Scottish family, and although jumping between generations can mean the book is, at times, hard to follow, it is an effective vehicle for advancing the plot. The story is also told from multiple perspectives which, when you get used to it, gives you rich flavour of what is happening.

I had only read the Wasp Factory by Banks before, and the Crow Road is no where nearly as dark, although it’s not as light hearted as someone like William Boyd. I did, find myself reminded of some Boyd books however, as Banks has deep layers to his characters as Boyd does.

There is a lot going on this book, the split in the family over religion; Prentice’s wayward ways; key people dying in odd circumstances; Uncle Hamish’s disappearance; to name but a few. There is of course lots of drinking and smoking ‘J’s.’ :)
All in all, an excellent read, that I zoomed through. I will certainly be reading more Banks in the future!
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19 of 22 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Hoots mon!, 2 July 2010
This review is from: The Crow Road (Paperback)
A first foray into the world of Iain Banks for me and, whilst the story gripped and the language sparkled, by the end I was just a little disappointed. It seemed to me that the novel couldn't decide whether it was a family saga, a murder mystery or a tartan clad bildungsroman, and while all these elements were enjoyable and well written, they never quite gelled into a completely satisfying novel. I think I would have enjoyed hearing less from Prentice and more from Kenneth, exploding Granny McHoan, Fergus and Uncle Rory. And for a novel that toys interestingly with the line between fiction and reality I was expecting more ambiguity by the end as opposed to the rather conventional conclusion that Banks delivers. I'd also gripe that the female characters remained vague and a touch lifeless and that the plot rests on an excessively massive coincidence.

But I'm moaning too much about a book which kept me entertained and made me think for all of its 400 odd pages.
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The Crow Road
The Crow Road by Iain Banks (Paperback - 7 Feb. 2013)
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