``Opinions expressed here are mine and mine alone.''
WARNING, WHOPPING SPOILERS AHEAD. I write these pages as notes, records
and reminders to myself of books I have read. You are welcome to peruse these
reviews, but be warned that they will spoil your reading pleasure if you have
not already read them.
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|To my mind this is by far Banks' worst sci-fi novel (which still deserves its three star rating!) The chapters alternate mechanically (and somewhat tediously) between two sets of people, and the plot contains few surprises (except for the awful resolution; more later).
It is, however, written with Banks' usual extraordinary imagination, and the characters and the environment in which they thrive are both totally alien and yet endearing in their completeness.
Apart from the fact that it is a touch fantastical and the story line is a bit angular and awkward, the whole thing falls to pieces by the (non-) resolution: Banks assembles all his characters in a dungeon, with the heroine and her staff about to be tortured to death by a grotesquely vicious muscle-man, when the narrator closes his eyes for a second, experiences a flash and a bang, and suddenly the female doctor is free of her shackles and has the torturer and his men flat on their backs! The book does hint earlier that the doctor has some extra mysterious powers up her sleeve, but come on! a book this good by so talented a story writer deserves a far better ending than this.
|Comment added 2005-03-24 by JG
|This story is about the Culture meddling....but two people are agents from the Culture. The dungeon scene - the doctor had a knife missle from the Cultre...the boy see it very briefly - gives away the whole Culture thing. Fantastic but only works if you know all about the Culture from other books.
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