Customer Review

7 of 8 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Ambitious but flawed, 26 Dec. 2011
This review is from: Use Of Weapons (The Culture) (Paperback)
I'm not as keen on this particular Culture novel as many others seem to be - I much preferred Consider Phlebas and Player of Games.

The book is structured into two strands; one strand describes the adventures of the protagonist Zakalwe forward in time, and the other strand (which is in every second chapter) reveals flashbacks from Zakalwe's eventful life as an agent fighting for the Culture, and his troubled past before he joined the Culture. For some reason, there is also a prologue and an epilogue which don't fit into either of the strands; because of this added complexity in the book's timeline, it took me longer than necessary to cotton on to the logic of the dual-strand structure of the book, so bear this ordering in mind if you buy the book!

Ultimately, Banks uses this inventive structure to create a poignant and shocking climax to the book. However, to me this comes at the expense of an involving story. Essentially, I don't feel that the plot of the forward-time strand is consistently strong enough to generate interest in and sympathy with the protagonist - towards the end of the book, I was only really interested in the resolution of the backwards-in-time strand.

Although I found the book to be very clever on reflection, since the main plot never really hooked me in the way that the other Culture books have done I don't feel that I can recommend it.
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Showing 1-2 of 2 posts in this discussion
Initial post: 11 Jan 2013 19:27:05 GMT
please put spoiler alert on reviews like this, goodness knows how many reading experiences you have destroyed.

In reply to an earlier post on 22 Aug 2013 13:45:13 BDT
Olly Buxton says:
Spoiler alert? What Spoiler? I don't think the structure of the book as two opposite strands is a spoiler (especially as one set is chapters 1-13 and the interleaved one is marked XIII-I. Other than that, there are no spoilers here?
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