Goodreads helps you keep track of books you want to read.
Start by marking “Walking on Glass” as Want to Read:
Walking on Glass
Enlarge cover
Rate this book
Clear rating
Open Preview

Walking on Glass

3.69  ·  Rating Details  ·  4,206 Ratings  ·  145 Reviews
Graham Park is in love. But Sara ffitch is an enigma to him, a creature of almost perverse mystery. Steven Grout is paranoid - and with justice. He knows that They are out to get him. They are. Quiss, insecure in his fabulous if ramshackle castle, is forced to play interminable impossible games. The solution to the oldest of all paradoxical riddles will release him. But he ...more
Paperback, 341 pages
Published April 1st 1992 by Abacus (Little,Brown) (first published 1985)
More Details... edit details

Friend Reviews

To see what your friends thought of this book, please sign up.

Reader Q&A

To ask other readers questions about Walking on Glass, please sign up.

Popular Answered Questions

Peter Castine Not really spoilers, but if anyone reading doesn't want any hints at all about what's coming, you shouldn't be here :- )

Stock is late getting to…more
Not really spoilers, but if anyone reading doesn't want any hints at all about what's coming, you shouldn't be here :- )

Stock is late getting to Sara's flat because Grout put sugar into the motorcycle tank (which is also what causes the accident to Steven).

In Graham's walks past the canal, he walks past the same tunnel that leads to where Grout is staying.

And, of course, the last book that Ajiya picks up to read (the one with the title page missing) is from Graham's first chapter.

I think there were some other hints. They are all on the ephemeral side. (less)

Community Reviews

(showing 1-30 of 3,000)
filter  |  sort: default (?)  |  Rating Details
Jun 23, 2010 Brad rated it really liked it
When things are bad there is always hope. At least that’s what we’re told. We grow up believing that hope is one of the single most important emotions a human can feel. It is connected to the human spirit, and we are told that hope is what allows that spirit to rise above those things that would destroy us. But is it possible that there is something flawed in that equation? Could it be that the human spirit is actually found in the antithesis of hope?

I think it is. I think the human spirit is fo
Feb 05, 2009 Manny rated it liked it
Only for Banks completists. He was evidently dissatisfied with this book, and rewrote it as The Bridge. The second version is far superior, in fact arguably his best novel. The first is not more than so-so.

I did however like the hero's encounter with the irritating little imp. He wants to know how to get out of the labyrinth, and the imp says that it either tells the truth all the time, or lies all the time. The hero can't be bothered to construct the question that solves this tired old logical
Iain (M.) Banks se caracteriza por ser un escritor cuyas tramas necesitan de una plena implicación por parte del lector. Le gusta jugar con la manera de narrar una historia, utilizando estructuras complejas, flashbacks, diferentes líneas argumentales que terminan confluyendo... Hay veces que le funciona mejor que otras; algunas de sus novelas me hubiesen gustado más si simplemente se hubiera dedicado a contar la historia linealmente. Esto no quiere decir que no me gusten los retos, los tour de f ...more
Dec 07, 2008 Dave rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: Kafka-ites, Surrealists,
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Jun 08, 2013 Kerry rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This one's going to have me thinking for a while...

Banks' 'Walking on Glass' is the telling of three stories, the main theme of which seems to be with how the easiest of circumstances can make you... well, mad.

I know there are a lot of different takes on this book, but to me the characters of Graham, Grout and Quiss seem to represent different periods of time in a person's life, and with them the key themes of love, employment and age which, when the odds are against them, leave the respective c
Mar 14, 2011 Szplug rated it liked it
I own nine Iain and Iain M. Banks novels, but the only one I have ever gotten around to reading is Walking on Glass. I'm not exactly sure why this has been the case, as I quite liked WOG and its clever, inventive tripartite plot. The Gormenghast flavorings of the most mysterious of the three story lines—a monstrously sprawling, labyrinthine castle (replete with stunted, chitterling servants), apparently erected in a wintry, occluded dimension in some null-zone of spacetime, which functions as a ...more
Jun 27, 2011 Felonious rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Adults
Shelves: topshelf, dark
I'm kind of in the middle of a Banks binge, trying to get a few of his non M books read (Iain Banks = fiction, Iain M. Banks = SciFi).

This is the first non M book that I think could have been an “M”. Walking on Glass has three stories that come together towards the end. The first story is about a man walking to the house of the woman he loves to tell her how he feels. Along the way he recalls moments he spent with her and how he felt at the time, he is walking on air. The second story is about
2.5 stars - Metaphorosis Reviews

A man on his way to meet his lover, a man who believes himself to be a Warrior exiled to a mundane world, and two adversaries playing tabletop games in a surreal castle - all tied together in a complex literary novel.

I've read most of Iain Banks' SFF novels - complex, sophisticated, and intriguing. I previously read his literary novel A Song of Stone, and liked but wasn't overwhelmed by it. Still, his contemporary fiction was on sale, so I bought a number of books
Sep 06, 2008 holy_fire rated it it was ok
Recommends it for: Iain Banks fans
Shelves: banks-iain, fiction, 1985
an early novel by Iain Banks

short plot description: we follow three seemingly unrelated stories. Graham Park is head-over-heels in love but the object of his affections keeps him at arms length. Steven Grout is suffering from paranoid delusions and thinks he is an alien participant of a galactic war exiled to and kept on Earth by "Them". Quiss and Ajayi were on opposing sides in the "Therapeutic Wars" but are exiled to a castle for doing something wrong. They can only escape when they find the c
I have marked this book as fantasy, but it is not easy to class, as it is actually three novellas in one, with enough links to keep them close, but still very separate.

The first one is a story of love in current (when written) London. I consider it the best written, though the story is predictable and well known, if twisted.

The second one is disturbing, presenting an involving tale of what it is to be a clinically insane, but as this is Banks, the hint that may be he is sane after all. It also
Apr 01, 2011 Ramondo rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
My introduction to Iain Banks was through his dazzling debut novel, The Wasp Factory. Then I read as much of his novels as I could find, including this one. I picked up Walking On Glass again recently and found the original sale receipt I’d used as a bookmark. It was twenty years old.

Time indeed changes everything. The first thing that struck me on rereading this novel was how amateur the writing seemed in parts – the amount of “telling” rather than “showing”, the lame dialogue, the overuse of m
Clive Thompson
Jul 10, 2013 Clive Thompson rated it liked it
The characters are all of student age, all have different difficulties in life, mentally, and all live separate lives. The meeting of characters brings into play their inter reaction with, sometimes,surprising, consequences. The novel is building up to a bizarre and unexpected ending. Once absorbed, you have to reach the end as the outcome must be within your grasp. Mustn't it? This is Banks in the heads of young adults who are full of the fears of their times, be it, a fear of not being loved, ...more
I love Iain Banks but am not so fond of Iain M. Banks, and this book felt as though the latter was influencing the former. As with The Song of Stone, this was an iffy book for me.

There are three intertwined stories here, although we don't learn how they mingle until the last part. First, there's Graham, in love with Sara (who is escaping her marriage, is also involved with Strokes - a biker - and keeps Graham at semi-arms-length). Second, there's Steven, an ASD (before that term existed) hoarder
Innes Ferguson
Mar 19, 2011 Innes Ferguson rated it liked it
Shelves: fiction
According to another reader's review, Banks was ultimately dissatisfied with this book and rewrote it as The Bridge. If true, then that's quite interesting. Like the other reviewer I found The Bridge a superior novel.

The tripartite structure of the book is technically interesting but I didn't find the parts strong enough to stand on their own and nor did I find the connections between the parts all that accomplished or intriguing.

I recommend all of my favourite Banks novels to friends and family
Gary Letham
Jul 21, 2014 Gary Letham rated it liked it
This was the third Iain Banks novel I've read, and the the most disappointing so far for me. Three seeming disparate stories weave their tales through the pages. Two of them, set in a contemporary universe are relatively engaging. The third however, set in a prison castle in an unknown future, proved to me quite irritating. The style doesn't sit well with the other two tales, and whilst all three stories almost combine, they miss the mark by a long way in overall reading pleasure. This may be yo ...more
May 10, 2009 Skorgu rated it really liked it
When I finished this book I threw it aside in disgust. Not metaphorically mind, the book left my hands and dented some drywall. I almost gave up on Banks for it.

But I couldn't stop thinking about it. Weeks, months later snippets, passages, elements of it popped unbidden into my head, demanding further consideration. It's often said that a book makes you think but this is one of few I've read that literally forces thought upon you; this book is not so much a mindfuck as a mindrape.
Book Punks
Mar 13, 2015 Book Punks rated it it was ok
Shelves: books-i-own
Well. Three narrators whose stories come together in unexpected (and disappointingly predictable) ways. One of which I found interesting, the other two of which were kind of a slog. I stayed in it because I was expecting a surprise ending on the level with "The Wasp Factory" and it delivered, sort of.

People say "The Wasp Factory" was obviously a debut novel, but "Walking on Glass" felt moreso of one to me (and it was only his second novel). Well-written as it theoretically was, it just didn't do
Jun 26, 2010 Mathew rated it it was amazing
I haven't finished a book in two months. There have been many things involved, but more often than not...less than satisfying narratives.

This changed that. Well written and quirky enough to satisfy my yearning for the "unique." Granted, some connections are tenuous, others ridiculous, but the prose buoyed the narrative through it.

I look forward to exploring the works of Mr. Banks further.

David Golden
Nov 23, 2014 David Golden rated it really liked it
Shelves: reviewed
Brilliantly muddled or brilliant and muddled?

The answer depends on how surreal you like your fiction. Either way, the writing itself is stupendous. The three tales – three quest stories, really – are wildly different in plot and style yet oddly similar in a way I would struggle to articulate. I felt perplexed when I finished the book, but it's growing on me as I reflect on it.
Helen Cranberry
Mar 24, 2015 Helen Cranberry rated it it was amazing
На самом деле, книгу я прочитала сравнительно давно, она так меня впечатлила, что это стало началом моей любви к творчеству Иэна Бэнкса. В этот раз я решила провести эксперимент с аудиокнигой. Это гораздо, гораздо дольше. Во время чтения всегда можно скользнуть по странице по диагонали или позволить себе роскошь не читать сноски :) Но аудиопрослушивание открыло мне книгу с другой стороны. Я подметила для себя детали, упущенные ранее. Нашла отсылку на потрясшую меня ужасную-преужасную пьесу В Ожи ...more
Dec 20, 2015 Kevin rated it really liked it
Not much to really say; although, being the second of Iain Banks' novels published, it still retains the quite off-the -cuff weirdness and twist that The Wasp Factory had and later became his trademark. And what a twist towards the end, something unexpected until about half the way through. I liked the references to contemporary books trying I suppose to actually show Iain's inspiration (Mervyn Peake, Kafka and Borges, along with Hitchikers Guide by Douglas Adams) and what made Walking on Glass ...more
Ivy McAllister
An extended study in casual cruelty.

I don't even know what to say about this one. An extended study in casual cruelty, for a start. There is no light at the end of this tunnel--not a scrap. (It rather mirrors the plight of two of the characters, in this respect.) Also, I could have done without one of the big reveals Banks saves for the end.

Perhaps I'm just not sophisticated enough to grasp everything that's being alluded to. Or maybe I'm missing some of the references--pop-cultural and otherwi
This is an odd book.
As an author, Iain Banks eventually published his SciFi books under the name Iain M. Banks. And this book feels more like one of his "M" offerings than a regular one.
It is comprised of three stories that have a loose link, but this is not revealed until the very end. And I am not completely sure that I have interpreted correctly exactly what was going on, which is ultimately why I found this book rather frustrating. The first storyline was actually strong enough for a book
Mark Speed
Banks's second novel. For some people this might have been a disappointment compared to the The Wasp Factory. However, we can see the author stretching his wings - and his imagination - as he weaves three different stories together. We can also see the sci-fi author longing to break out of his chrysalis (to continue the metaphor). There are some nice psychological insights in here, and I was lucky enough to ask Banks in person about this (BBC World Book Club). The OCD that Steven Grout suffers f ...more
Debbie Walker
Sep 18, 2015 Debbie Walker rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Three separate stories that do loosely intertwine at the end: or do they? The book is very well written,as with the other books by this author that I have read. I can't say that I fully enjoyed it but it has certainly left me pondering for much longer than any of the other books that I read this holida; to the point that I will probably re-read it at some point again in the future and see if I can reveal more from it a second time. I did find the characters from the castle very intriguing and fe ...more
Leila Anani
Walking on glass follows three separate lots of characters and the twist at the end is working out how these threads come together. Its a subtle work of genius.

Firstly we have Graham Park an art student in love with a mysterious woman he meets at a party called Sara ffitch. This narrative is set very much in the real world - denoted by the fact that all the chapter headings are place names.

Secondly we have Steven Grout who in anybody's book is a complete nutter. He feels that everyone's out to g
Jan 03, 2015 Dominique rated it liked it
Shelves: science-fiction
The reason I'm a few days late with this week's book is because I was on a holiday in Egypt. Internet access is quite restricted there and pricey as well. That does not mean I did not finish the book well before Sunday. That's the benefit of lying on the beach all week.

This week's choice of beach read was Iain Bank's Walking On Glass. Not a very light novel in the sense that it's difficult to understand what it's about. The separate stories are easy to read and quite enticing. One is about Grah
Jen Davis Lance
Jul 16, 2015 Jen Davis Lance rated it it was amazing
Shelves: favorites, sci-fi
"Walking on Glass" is about the intersection of three lives: Steven Groat, a mentally unstable man who's just quit his job; Graham Park, a young artist who is about to found out something earth shattering about the woman he loves; Quiss, a warrior who has been sentenced to an indefinite stay at the Castle of Bequest and must play impossible games and solve an unanswerable riddle if he ever hopes to return home. What could these three diverse persons, not even on the same planet, possibly have to ...more
Aug 21, 2011 Rosemary rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This is the second time I've read this. The first time was in the late 80s when I discovered Banks through The Wasp Factory and then read everything he'd written up to that point. I've gone on reading the more mainstream Iain Banks books as they come out, more or less, although I haven't kept up with the sci fi of Iain M. Banks. Most of them I recall quite clearly, but this one I didn't remember at all.

There are three subplots coming together to collide at the end. There's geeky Graham, who's f
Dec 12, 2009 Tracy rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: other-fiction
(2.5 stars) This was the first Iain (M.) Banks that I read, on the recommendation of some rave reviews of his other books. Admittedly, I picked this particular one because the book was physically small enough to fit in my carry-on.

The first quarter of the book was promising, setting up several disparate and individually interesting threads. I was looking forward to seeing how they ended up being woven together. But then, the remainder of the book more or less repeated the first segment of each o
« previous 1 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 99 100 next »
topics  posts  views  last activity   
Iain Banks / Iain...: Walking on Glass 1 17 Aug 14, 2012 12:48AM  
  • Feersum Endjinn
  • Best New Horror 18 (The Mammoth Book of Best New Horror, #18)
  • The Affirmation
  • A Grey Moon Over China
  • Attack Of The Unsinkable Rubber Ducks
  • Vermilion Sands
  • Grey Area
  • The Last Day of Christmas: The Fall of Jack Parlabane
  • The Devil's Footprints
  • Pollen
  • Flesh and Gold (Lyhhrt Trilogy, #1)
This author also published science fiction under the pseudonym Iain M. Banks.

Banks's father was an officer in the Admiralty and his mother was once a professional ice skater. Iain Banks was educated at the University of Stirling where he studied English Literature, Philosophy and Psychology. He moved to London and lived in the south of England until 1988 when he returned to Scotland, living in Edi
More about Iain Banks...

Share This Book