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4.8 out of 5 stars
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4.8 out of 5 stars
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on 18 April 2017
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on 18 July 2014
I have read all of Iain M Banks books, and this boxset brings together the first three books in The Culture series.

It is interesting to speculate that when Iain M Banks wrote these story he definitely was not thinking about a series or a trilogy,and for us Iain M Bank purists it is entertaining to see them boxed up in this way, because in all honesty, Iain M Banks only ever wrote stand alone novels.

My point being that this is not a trilogy, you don't have to read the books in any particular order, and you can read one and never read the other two or vice versa.

To recap The ten books of the Culture are: Consider Phlebas, 1987; The Player of Games,1988; Use of Weapons, 1990; The State of the Art, 1991; Excession, 1996; Inversions, 1998; Look to Windward,2000; Matter,2008; Surface Detail, 2010; The Hydrogen Sonata, 2012.

To summarise each of these books:

Consider Phlebas is the story of anti-hero Horza who fight against The Culture

The Player of Games is about Gurgeh a bored Culture citizen who is blackmailed into fighting a very unique kind of game war on behalf of the Culture

The State of the Art is about three siblings who from a golden childhood see their lives descend into the murder and cruelty of civil war. The Culture wants to intervene to help them but... Things are never what they seem.

Personally I like the Player of Games the best. To my mind with its echoes in contemporary game culture it is the most accessible of iain M Banks texts, and I love the civilisation of Azad which has so many echoes of our own world.

However once you get started on The Culture novels, once Iain M Banks voice start to speak to you, you will be hooked for life, and eternally grateful that there in fact 10 distinct novels in this series to enjoy.
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on 6 January 2015
I read quite a lot of SF in my life, but somehow missed Banks. Much to my surprise and delight, I have stumbled upon one of the greats in the genre. Set against a common background of "the culture", which is kind of a cynical version of Starfleet, these stories are all quite different. They do share a few commonalities: there's always a cynical bit of "noir", there's cunning wit and genuine humor, and there's quite a lot of space opera. All this serves as a backdrop for some of the most original and inventive stories I've come across. For anyone looking for a new flavor in the genre, give this collection a shot. One bit of criticism I do have is that in the first two books I came across minor printing issues (small bits where there was no ink, so here and there I had to guess a few letters.) These issues were not enough to detract from a pristine reading experience though, so still 5 stars.
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on 4 August 2013
Sadly it took his death to finally get starteured on Iain Banks' Culture novels. I've heard very good things about Use of Weapons so thought I'd start at the beginning so this boxset is ideal.
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on 12 August 2015
I love every one of these books.

Banks was a genius, and will be sorely missed; I've read a LOT of sci-fi, and the only man who comes close to Banks in my estimation is Dan Abnett (although for different reasons).

The sheet imagination put into these books, coupled with the scale and well-thought out plots is a combination that I love. If you like sci-fi of ANY kind, read these.

Even if you don't, read these. They may well convert you.

One thing to be aware of: make sure you have plenty of cash spare before you buy this product - shortly afterwards you will be buying the rest of Banks' back catalog.
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on 20 July 2013
Awesome sci-fi in an universe run by The Culture. Having read the two first books and started on the third I really like the imaginative and creativeness of the author. The first book (conside phlebas) was an action packed bomb full of twists worthy of a great adventure (mercenaries mostly blowing up themselves is pretty comic), the second book (Player of Games) expanded more on the phillosophical side and has good character development and is very imaginative and the third book (which I started) has already made me chuckle a couple of times. These are very good reads.
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on 19 February 2016
Like many comments I have read, I had also managed to miss all of Ian M. Banks books. I picked up this set to give it a try and having read the first 2 books already, I am a massive fan. The first 2 books have stories with surprisingly downbeat endings. This is not a criticism, it is a strength and shows how life can often be an anti-climax after momentous happenings. I can't wait to crack on with the rest of the Culture novels.
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on 13 April 2014
This box set is the first three books I've read by Iain M. Banks. Unfortunately Mr Banks just recently died so the delight of finding him brought also the sorrow of losing him almost immediately afterwards. Fortunately he was a very productive author so there are plenty of his novels left to read.

The Culture world is very rich and interesting and I can only invite all of you to join us there via these novels.
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on 8 January 2014
I'm only half way through the first book but I am getting into the strange blend of dry humour and philosphy and highly imaginative sci-fi that this fictional world contains. Loved the tale of how Horza got away from Fwi Song. It seems to be a bit like Ray Bradbury meets John Wyndham meets Hitchhikers Guide to the Galaxy. There's a lot in it and it deserves to have a wider readership.
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on 9 March 2016
Ian M Banks is a brilliant sci-fi writer. He creates huge universes with his culture series and manages to add subtle philosophical messages without being overbearing. His books always make me think which is what I look for.
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