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Worth a re-reading
on 6 February 2014
I first read this years ago; possibly late 90s/early oos - so definitely before Amazon reviews took off! I've read a fair bit since then, but ASOS has come back to me at various times, although over the years more and more intertwined with a children's book I also vaguely remember reading about social breakdown and soliders (Noah's Castle is the nearest book I can find, but I'm still not convinced it was the one).
Banks is one of the few authors I can read over again, so, being that the general negativity towards ASOS, I thought I'd read it as a fully fledged adult.
I think I possibly enjoyed it more this time; I certainly don't have the vague, fuzzy feeling I was left with last time (or is that, quite simply, time?) The castle is, in its solemnity and final indignity, the main character in the novel: it appears to exert some power over its inhabitants and even the Lieutenant which makes them unable to leave entirely - even if it should be their destruction. Possibly the castle represents a hierarchical society which binds people even afer less physical structures have crumbled; possibly it's a physical manifestation of refuge and safety individuals can't find anywhere else.
In fact, starting this review has again made me realise how much I enjoyed the novel, but am probably in danger of slipping into an essay if I continue. And it's been many years since I wrote an essay at bedtime.
We are able to feel superior to the main character, as he appears to be the only one blind to the true extent of te ways in which society has changed.
The Lieutenant appears to be the most interesting character in the novel, althogh one wonders whether this another trick: does she only appear interesting because a. Abel wants to sleep with her and b. because she is so different to him (in some ways) and actually throws his faults into sharp relief. Is she actually the man he wants to be?
The true horror appears to be rooted in the mundane, every day life, as evidenced in Morgan's abuse as a small child. Everything Abel and Morgan do as adults appears to have been set in motion at the castle - possibly by their father.
The sense of bleak hopelessness is offset by those who never appear as the protagonists: the soldiers and the castle's workforce whose lives go on regardless of who's in charge and who's on the 'right' side. As it ever has been and ever shall be, I suppose.