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27 Reviews
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Dream a Little Dream
Iain Banks first novel, The Wasp Factory, was published in 1984. In the years since, he's won critical acclaim, topped best-seller lists and has even written Science Fiction books under the cunning nom-de-plume 'Iain M. Banks'. He's also seen this book, "The Crow Road", adapted for television by the BBC in 1996. "Canal Dreams" is his fifth non sci-fi book and was first...
Published on 1 May 2006 by Craobh Rua

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9 of 10 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Awkward thriller
Canal Dreams concerns a cello player scared of flying, who during a trip through the Panama Canal unwittingly ends up caught between revolutionaries and American special forces operatives. The basic scenario of this thriller is a good one, and the plight of the hostages stranded in the Panama Canal should result in a tense novel, but for some reason Canal Dreams never...
Published on 3 Nov. 2005 by Jane Aland


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2.0 out of 5 stars Unconvinced To Say The Least, 27 Nov. 2012
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This review is from: Canal Dreams (Paperback)
I'm a big fan of Iain Banks' work, but unfortunately this one just didn't do anything for me. Although it's a reasonably small book, getting through it was a real struggle. It just isn't a page turner I'm afraid.

I can't really go into much more detail than that. If you're a Banks fan, I'd say read it, but don't expect great things.
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8 of 11 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Disappointing, 4 Jan. 2001
This review is from: Canal Dreams (Paperback)
Let me start by saying that I am a great fan of Iain (M) Bank's work. Though this is a better book than many out there it is poor by his standards.
The "shock" element seems to be just that - for shock value (rather than the integral, visceral and compelling twists that we have come to know and love) with the plot driven more along the lines of a soap opera or bad TV movie.
The only thing I will say in its favour is that is does successfully maintain an undertone of disquiet through the first two thirds of the book, unfortunately it does then blow it.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Good - as expected, 19 Jan. 2014
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This review is from: Canal Dreams (Paperback)
This is a good book. Start out slowly and building character. And then explodes with action and surprises. I do not want to spoil it. But it is enough to say that this is a good read.
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4.0 out of 5 stars A Different Travel Guide, 9 April 2013
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Pete D (Cambridgeshire) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Canal Dreams (Paperback)
I have always wanted to travel through the Panama Canal. The book started off well as a travel guide but after that got much more interesting.
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4.0 out of 5 stars Darkly dreamy, 8 Nov. 2012
This review is from: Canal Dreams (Kindle Edition)
Another classic from Iain Banks- evocative prose, dark twists and in Hisako, a fearsome heroine. I didn't put this down until the end.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Bought this book as a gift for a family member ..., 10 Sept. 2014
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This review is from: Canal Dreams (Kindle Edition)
Bought this book as a gift for a family member who's an avid reader and a massive fan of Iain Banks.
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0 of 1 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars It's Colombia, stupid!, 19 Jan. 2010
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This review is from: Canal Dreams (Paperback)
OK, so it was a while ago now and Iain Banks and/or his publishers would probably say that misspelling Colombia throughout with a 'u' was inexperience or something. But surely when writing and publishing a novel set in a specific part of the world, it is their duty to at least check a map.

Other than this inexcusable mistake, the book is also very hard work. Having lured the reader into getting to know the characters and enjoying their relatively pleasant existence passing time on their ships while stuck in the Panama Canal during a civil war, the story takes a comically violent turn.

The cello isn't an instrument associated with equipping its players with the skills to handle machine guns, Uzis and automatic rifles. Yet Bank's world-famous cellist heroine does so with remarkable strength and precision - Lara Croft meets Jacqueline Du Pre.

And as for the tedious dreams and flashbacks she has, which continually interupt the shoot 'em up scenes just as they start to get a little gripping...

At least Iain Banks is on record as not much liking the book himself, and all credit to him for not letting it be turned into a film
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0 of 1 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars A good novel... but has been known to write better, 22 April 1999
By A Customer
This review is from: Canal Dreams (Paperback)
As a long time Iain (M) Banks fan I find this novel one of his weakest and also one of his most interesting.
It is interesting because Banks was obviously trying to do something different: to explore different cultures and settings. The premise is also solidly thought out: a high-jacked ship in the Panama canal, with a Japanese cellist who is on her way to Europe to perform but who is also terrified of flying.
The book is weak on two counts: the last third descends into violence which is implausible; but the main problem is that the book as a whole seems thinly plotted. There is not a great deal happening in this book, which is very surprising considering Banks' track-record up to the point when this novel was published. He has gone on to do much better things since.
If you have enjoyed Banks' other works then please buy this and see for yourself. For those who've yet to read any book by Iain Banks I suggest you approach this one with caution: try 'The Crow Road', 'Complicity', or 'The Bridge' first.
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0 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The odyssey of a musician, 17 Mar. 1999
By A Customer
This review is from: Canal Dreams (Paperback)
A world-famous Japanes cello artist is travelling to Europe for a tour by sea because she is afraid of flying. As the ship sails the Panama Canal it's hyjacked by 'terrorists'...... I found that, apart from being a compelling read, this novel stirred in me all sorts of emotions from anger to empathy to joy. The main character is a very powerful yet very credible female character, and Banks manages to do this without patronizing. As the story line unfolds so do the character's past and fears, while she finds herself forced to accept them, and to take charge of her life in quite a dramatic manner. It is quite graphic, and for those not used to Ian Banks's writing, be warned that some of the violence described might disturb, but in my opinion it's certainly not gratuitous. The plot has an ironic twist which is a powerful indictment of our superpowers' so called 'international policy', and a gripping finale. I recommend this book to all readers but especially other women.
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0 of 1 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars A bit of a mess, 28 Mar. 1999
By A Customer
This review is from: Canal Dreams (Paperback)
This is a very strange novel. I thought I was going to love it about half way in, and the book set up some potentially exciting scenarios and probed very well into the character of Hisako Onada (maybe it should have been written first-person from her point-of-view?). The problem is that once everything's set-up, that's it. The book's so short it's pretty much over before it's begun, and it really does seem like the start of a much longer novel. If you like Banks' writing, this book certainly gives a good measure of his style, but I think it suffers from being written at a time when he wanted to get on with his sci-fi writing, and the plot here is extremely basic and vastly under-developed. This is possibly Banks' weakest novel.
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Canal Dreams
Canal Dreams by Iain Banks (Paperback - 6 Jun. 2013)
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