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89 Reviews
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3 of 4 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Excellent
Another excellent and very readable (too readable - I easily read it in an evening) Banks. The story is a grower - for most of the book I wasn't sure where it was heading but that just kept me reading. Quite a "light" take on the whole conspiracy theory thing - very gentlemanly behaviour from the protagonists in retrospect. However that is the nature of the...
Published on 23 Aug 1999

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16 of 19 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Lost in the woods
The Business is a fair fairy story, at least in concept. There’s a prince seeking a princess, a Queen resigned to her bed for 25 years with a broken heart, a palace of a thousand rooms, snow-capped mountains, pied piper children, an all powerful James Bond style baddie organisation. And like any good fairy tale it tries to have a moral, arising from one hot...
Published on 25 Aug 2003 by mfl


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2.0 out of 5 stars lukewarm, 29 Jan 2010
This review is from: The Business (Paperback)
I had high hopes for this as I loved the blurb on the back cover, it did its job and hooked me, sadly the book itself was a let down. The first third is great, the middle really drags on (sorry but the whole visiting Thuhn/Suvinder bit had me bored senseless), and the last third is reasonably good but I was left with more questions than answers. The lead character, Kate, was passable but just a bit too wooden as a character. I have the same feeling with this as with some of Banks' other books, that it reads more like a draft than a final manuscript. Also there was just far too much in this that was predictable, nothing took me by surprise.
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4.0 out of 5 stars A different sort of book, 3 Aug 2009
This review is from: The Business (Paperback)
I liked this book because it didn't really fit into a genre. It was almost a thriller but it wasn't pacy enough for that. It was completely interesting though. I liked the story of the main character and that in the end, you never really find out what the business is...I would recommend this book
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2 of 3 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars If you've never read Iain Banks, start with The Business!, 20 Jun 2000
By A Customer
This review is from: The Business (Paperback)
This is an excellent first book to read if you are just getting into Iain Banks, especially because so many of his other novels, while highly rated, are often considered as a bit on the weird side. Its a mix between a whodunnit and an account of one executive's rise to power. Don't expect a punchy ending - that's not the style of Iain Banks - but it's a rivetting read, and wonderfully written. I have gone on to read other books by the same author which have been disappointing, but The Business is a classic read. So go on, go buy a copy today....
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1 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Do you know where you're going to?, 6 Oct 2000
By 
This review is from: The Business (Paperback)
I found this to be a good Iain Banks book ,if not his best. His novels always tend to be more "hit and miss" than his sci-fi (although perhaps that says more about me), but overall this one was a hit.
Having read some of the other readers reviews, I can empathise with all they say, but wonder if there was something more subtle to this book than the usual mega-conspiracy or "I would have gotten away with it if not for you pesky kids" plots. Both this and Look to Windward (latest sci-fi) take a more reflective stance with the activities in characters lives taking a backseat to their inner journey/responses to them. He has done this in other novels, but for me most successfully on the sci-fi side (Player of Games springs quickly to mind). Perhaps The Bridge (which I didn't enjoy) comes close along with The Wasp Factory (which was excellent). The thing with The Wasp Factory is that whilst the book is an inner journey the activities are so garish and monumental that they leap into the foreground, whereas in The Business the activities are either more mundane or have been covered before in other stories and other media so as to have less impact.
Has Iain Banks lost his flare for the outlandish or is he developing a greater taste for subtlety? I personally believe that it is the latter, but only time will tell. Kate's final choices in the story were disappointing (what? no cunning plot twists?), but could tell us that "winning" is not to be judged by the standards of others or materiality.
A good read, if not a great one.
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1 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Back to the style of Whit and Crow Road, 18 Aug 1999
By A Customer
This review is from: The Business (Hardcover)
This is something of a return to old territories for Iain Banks, and is very different from his last mainstream novel, A Song of Stone. It's very readable; I finished it in an evening. It's a tale of moral dilemna for its main character - does she take a step that will prosper both her career and her employer ('The Business', which we are lead to believe is about 2 millenia old) at a likely considerable future cost to the people of an unspoiled Himalayan kingdom, or does she refuse? Or is there a 'third way'?
The book moves along very smoothly, and as ever Banks writing is skilfull and entertaining. There are a few key scene in this book that offer insights into Banks' thinking. One in particular is a conversation between the main character and another, very senior Business executive about people's motivation and self-interest - Banks clearly prefers a strategy where promoting and working for the interests of the community (however defined) ultimately leads to the good, in practical terms, of the individual, even if its only in terms of living in a society of place where civivlised life is possible. Others in the book prefer a more ruthless approach based on pure self-interest, arguing that the efficiencies (to the market, etc) thus achieved will in turn make everyone richer. One can almost see the genesis of the ideas behind the Culture in this debate.
And (I think) none of the characters is happily married. Some are widowed; some divorced or separated; some separated; some suffering from marital violence. Some readers and other reviewers lament the fact that Banks no longer writes scenes of shocking violence as in Wasp Factory. I believe that Banks writes today scenes of deeper violence, but we fail to recognise them because we see them all around us, every day.
If you liked Whit, Crow Road, Espedair Street, you'll enjoy this. I did.
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1 of 2 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Rather Disappointing, 28 Sep 2001
By 
bert nairobi (Loch nan Stearnag, Scotland) - See all my reviews
This review is from: The Business (Paperback)
I've read most of Iain Banks' other novels and would credit Complicity with being a book that
could change your life, you know, changes the
way you look at things. The Business, by comparison is really weak. The plot is desperately
thin and doesn't live up to the grand central idea of a big, ancient corporation. This sounds like one of those big ideas that ought to have gone into one of his science fiction novels. The Business, in fact, reminds me of a prototype Culture and as such may be a kind of prologue to that whole set of concepts. What really annoyed me about the book, in addition to the flimsy characters and wads of padding, was the tedious
appearance of brand names everywhere. Characters don't check the time they check their Breitlings.
And towards the end, after endless unecessery references to classic sportscars, we're expected to believe that a high ranking multi-millionaire can be blackmailed into revealing highly incriminating information by having his car wrecked. We've spent three hundred pages reading how awfully rich these Business people are and then we're expected to believe a fancy car would mean anything to them at all. I think this moment epitomises the lack of thought in this book compared to some of his other quite excellent writings. If you want to start some Iain Banks go read Complicity and The Wasp Factory and The Bridge. Leave this one for a wet weekend or for the airport departure lounge.
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1 of 2 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Turgid, skillless and formulaic, a failed attempt., 20 Aug 1999
By A Customer
This review is from: The Business (Hardcover)
Ian Banks hardly deserves the glowing tributes to him on the back cover of his latest novel 'The Business'. The plot's central conceits - (1) writing from the point of view of a (wealthy) young woman and (2) dreaming up a hidden and ancient global business conspiracy - are both poorly handled. Banks seems to have little idea of how a smart, modern and attractive youg woman might think and operate, and instead projects on to her the rollicking lifestyle of a an oh-so-crazy rich young Scotsman, complete with dope smoking, endless drinks, meals out, being fondled at parties, etc. The business conspiracy side of things (a sort of eternal management consultancy without the brains) is equally poorly defined and lacks all believability - could they really survive so well, motivated only by such things as the love of loosely managed democratic capitalism?? And all based in Glasgow! Come on! Still, they say you should write about what you know. The one redeeming quality in the book might have been the voyeuristic jorneying to different parts of the world to view the excesses of very rich people, and this does raise some laughs, but it's all been done better before by writers of genuine quality like Kozynski and Donleavy. If this was Banks' only book, there would be no basis for his popularity.
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1 of 2 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Hmmmmm....., 6 Sep 2000
By A Customer
This review is from: The Business (Paperback)
Having just finsihed this book I'm at something of a loss as to what to think. The notion of an ancient, omnipotent, secretive corporation (not unlike the masonic society in the Holy Blood and the Holy Grail books) is a great starting point for any number of stories, but I feel this one misses on several counts.
As a look at the world of big business and high finance chicanery it is not as enlightening as a Michael Ridpath or Stephen Frey novel, nor is it as gritty as Brett Easton Ellis. More worrying, however, for Iain Banks fans is that the characterisation seems very shallow as well, at no time did I begin to feel any connection with the characters nor did I really care where the plot was taking me.
The Business is an easy read from start to finish, not what you expect when you pick up an Iain Banks novel. I only finished it a couple of days ago and I'm already struggling to remember anything from it at all, yet I can remember details from his other works that I haven't read in years.
I have to agree with other reviewers on this site that this is a poor example of his work and is unlikely to encourage new readers to try any of his other books. I'm not saying that this is a bad book just not what we've come to expect.
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1 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A welcome return to form..., 11 Aug 1999
By A Customer
This review is from: The Business (Hardcover)
'The Business' marks a welcome return of the Iain Banks of old - there is little of the pretensions of 'A Song of Stone' here, instead we get a breathless story of a strange corporation and their attempts to gain political clout in the UN.
The good thing about 'The Business' is that it highlights growing skill as a writer. It terms of literary skill Banks has never written better.
Despite all that it still appears that Banks has forgotten to wear his 'Ripping-Yarn' hat here. An engaging plot is very thinly supplied in 'The Business', which is a shame as the premise is strong and he could have provoked many out-spoken responses if it had been carried to its natural conclusion.
This must mean that Iain Banks' darker, nastier side is mellowing with age, whereas Iain M. Banks' output remains consistently readable, dark and inventive. I hope that the next 'mainstream' novel brings darker delights we have all witnessed in 'The Bridge', 'Complicity', & 'The Wasp Factory'.
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3 of 5 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars A Bad Business, 1 April 2009
By 
This review is from: The Business (Paperback)
Sometimes books have a slow start, but eventually they get going, `The Business' did not even do this. I am a fan of Iain Banks, but as an author he can infuriate with his strange ideas and variance in quality. In `The Business' we follow Kate Telman around for a few weeks as part of a mysterious global network of rich people. This concept has a huge potential if part of a wider story. Unfortunately, by the final part I realised that the business was the story. The day to day running of a fictional conglomerate does not make for entertaining reading. On one or two occasions the book threatened to actually go in an interesting direction only to do an about turn and return to the mundane.

As a character Kate is pretty interesting using her looks, experience and intelligence to work the system. However, she is a very dry and calculating woman and in this way personifies the book as a whole. There is a very sterile style in the book as if Banks is almost bored with writing it. There is no action, suspense, romance or anything at all. It is merely things happening to people you do not really care about. When comparing this to Banks' own `Wasp Factory' or `Espedair Street' its light night and day. One to avoid for all but the most hardened of Banks fans.
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