Hat tip to Ysharros for putting out a recommendation for Iain Banks Culture novels. Recently I came across Use of Weapons in a used bookstore, and recognized Banks name and the setting from her descriptions. And so for $2, I decided to try it out. And I was not disappointed.
The structure of the novel is at times frustrating, but it does build to a nice climactic ending. The ending itself was perhaps the only disappointing part of the whole book. Sometimes its possible to overbuild expectations with a lack of information, resulting in something thats a cross between several horrific tropes. Don’t click any of those if you don’t want any hinted at spoilers.
But the characterization itself, the playground that Banks gives you to play in (ie the setting), and his wonderful way of slipping societal truth telling and satire into otherwise unrelated avenues are joyous.
As a plus, in SWTOR, far and away the most intriguing class to me is the Imperial Agent. And arguably *the* main character of this book, Cheranadine Zakalwe, is pretty much all that the IA is described as being and more. He even has a stunningly awesome background to go with it.
With that out of the way, I’m trying to decide what next to tackle on my reading list – if anything, with the rapid approach of NaNoWriMo. No, I’m not soliciting more suggestions, though I’ll take them anyway. Off the top of my head I have eight books in my queue currently, more than enough.
ETA: Apparently I’m not the only one who thinks this is a sweet matchup with the Imperial Agent! Senior Writer and Managing Editor Alexander Freed dropped a line in the thread on the forums to let me know he agreed. Check it out (6th post down). Before you go “woopty doo” keep in mind how rare it is for devs to post in the SWTOR forums.
9 thoughts on “Use of Weapons”
Randomly poking through the forums yesterday when I saw your Zakalwe post in the IA thread. I don’t really go through there without much in the way of expectations, but I gotta say, I felt a white hot knife stab of OMG This Is Gonna Be Awesome. Then the IA writer popped in, and I’m looking at my watch.. is this game out yet or what?
Please make up a post and tell about your character. 🙂
Xeno! I recognize your name from the forums, primarily because I have enjoyed your posts. I have the same feeling – I’m ready to be playing it now! Especially after that dev poked in and even more so now after todays release.
I think I will do a post about my future character – will give me something fun to pass the time between now and then. Thanks for asking!
Ha ha ha, not the droid you’re looking for, I’m not this other Xeno person 😉 . I’m not registered on the forums, I just picked a Culture ship name to post on your blog here, the Torturer-class Xenophobe. Today’s update kills me, I need this game nooowww. And I wasn’t even going to play an agent originally.. gah! 🙂
Ahh! Got it (-: I ‘m ready for it now myself, and I’ve been trying to find creative ways to channel my excitement. I’m about *this* close to starting a play-by-post RPG on some forums, set in The Old Republc.
Do yourself a favour and read his other novels, specifically where he’s used “M” in his name Ian M. Banks – just getting through Use of Weapons now and while good it’s not his best for me, also look into some of Alastair Reynolds‘ novels, some very good books in a similar vein. Enjoy!
I’ve seen Reynolds stuff as well. I’m not sure about the rest of Banks work (or Reynolds) though, having thumbed through some of the synopses. I may have queued in on exactly the right book for me. That doesn’t mean I don’t enjoy his style of writing, but his style requires a story to be home to his wisdom, and some of the others stories are looking positively boring.
You might enjoy Player of Games too. As for the non-M Banks books, they may be too odd for ya — though it’s pretty much impossible to tell what someone might like to read until they try it.
Very true about the impossible part Ysh. I probably would have skipped right over Mr. Banks completely if not for your praise of him. Consider Phlebos will probably be my next foray. If I enjoy it, Player of Games would be next on the list. As for the rest – I’ll cross that bridge when I come to it.
I’m still stuck on the ending for Use of Weapons though. I may have to go back and reread some bits. Basically, I hate the ending, but I think I can see where he was going with it – I just want to make sure that was indeed where he was headed and not something I’m making up to apologize for him.
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