Use of Weapons by Iain M. Banks
My rating: 3 of 5 stars
Use of Weapons marks a departure for Banks from the more linear storylines of Consider Phlebas and Player of Games to what is effectively a character study of Cheradenine Zakalwe: a non-Culture human who has been recruited by Special Circumstances to... do what SC do.
There were a lot of elements I liked about the book, providing as it does a better look at the imperatives and motives of Special Circumstances and - by extension - the broader Culture, and there were some funny and often gut-wrenching set pieces along the way, but the overall effect (including the disorienting time jumps to different epochs in Zakalwe's long and dangerous life and the barely explained 'shock' ending) was not as satisfying as a more conventional approach to storytelling could have been. As a result, the book felt more like it was trying to make a point at the expense of entertaining the reader.
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