This book is pretty fantastic, especially at the end. Wolfe's retelling of Faerie is just wonderful, in the way I wish other retellings woul...more4.75 stars
This book is pretty fantastic, especially at the end. Wolfe's retelling of Faerie is just wonderful, in the way I wish other retellings would strive toward.
The book, in true Wolfeian fashion, is a little confusing at parts, and his ability to dip you into the world of the surreal when you least expect it is uncanny. The story often appears to be a straightforward telling of Able, a boy who becomes a knight, seemingly overnight, and his exploits searching for a legendary sword. These are perhaps all tropes you've come across. In fact, the likelihood nears certainty. However, you've never seen them explored this way before.
Granted, this book is part 1 of a two part series, so the rising action builds to its crescendo in the final chapter, which is a good thing: you want to stick with Able as long as possible on his journey, especially once he begins meeting his faithful companions and wisdom-filled mentors. The overlay of themes and almost nothing being truly as it appears creates a far more complex narrative than you'd assume, especially given that -- rumor has it -- this book and its companion, The Wizard, were purportedly written as YA books. If so, it was written for youngsters smarter than I was at that age, a boon, if you ask me, for adults looking for a great fantasy adventure that's both familiar and fresh.
I like to keep my reviews spoiler-free, so I won't mention my favorite parts here. Suffice it to say, it's 100% worth your time to press on through parts you may feel are confusing or slow; the payoff/reward is totally worth it!
I should note that this book does suffer something I've noted in other of Wolfe's books that prevented them from perfect scores as well: not enough strong female characters. Granted, much of the context in which they are situated begs for them to appear in traditional patriarchal roles, Wolfe could just say "Fuck it!" like Steven Erikson and make them kick lots of ass anyway. I submit that a few of the very best and most compelling characters in this book are women, it could use more of them. Just my two cents, though! (less)
This is a great tiny book! It's only 93 pages -- so people who aren't me could read it in a single sitting -- but provides a glimpse from 1986 of the...moreThis is a great tiny book! It's only 93 pages -- so people who aren't me could read it in a single sitting -- but provides a glimpse from 1986 of the talent that would win Müller the Nobel Prize in Literature in 2009. Her writing is is often haunting and always beautiful; "the language of the dispossessed."(less)
Fantastic read; the Culture series as a whole does not disappoint! (Now I'm going to go backwards in the series from book 7 to book 6 and read Inversi...moreFantastic read; the Culture series as a whole does not disappoint! (Now I'm going to go backwards in the series from book 7 to book 6 and read Inversions as seems eponymously fitting! (less)
Just completely impressive! While it lacks the all out epic-scale of Consider Phlebas and the nuanced subtlety and cerebral flare of The Player of G...moreJust completely impressive! While it lacks the all out epic-scale of Consider Phlebas and the nuanced subtlety and cerebral flare of The Player of Games, Use of Weapons more than makes up for it in prose style and chronological pyrotechnics. The book might seem confusing for some readers as it both begins and ends with a Prologue, not to mention that the chapters are ordered "One", "XIII", Two", "XII", "Three", "XI" . . . .
The magic of this novel set within the Culture universe lies in the way its narrative unfolds. You learn more about Cheradenine Zakalwe by ostensibly reliving his past with him as his current mission plays out. The woman known as Diziet Sma from Contact's Special Circumstances unit is one of the more compelling [and mysterious] female leads I've read about in contemporary sci-fi (not to mention the fact that she appears in the titular Culture novella, The State of the Art).
Many readers have noted the book's sadness, but it's almost poignant the way Banks does it in this book. I can't reveal too much more than what I've already said, but this Use of Weapons could represent a sort of paradigm for the internally conflicted, for individuals trying to escape various horrors of their past.
As a cool visual, here is an artist's rendition of the book's structure: (view spoiler)[PS. It's really cool! (hide spoiler)]["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>(less)
Holy @#$#$%#$% that was awesome!! The book introduces the reader (again [cryptically]) to Karsa Orlong who, along with Anomander Rake, are two of the...moreHoly @#$#$%#$% that was awesome!! The book introduces the reader (again [cryptically]) to Karsa Orlong who, along with Anomander Rake, are two of the series most compelling male characters. The book builds toward a climax in Raraku that really exceeded my expectations in the best possibly way: by completely defying them. I can't give any spoilers; it'd potentially ruin too many plot points and twists. Part of what makes this series so incredible is the way the complex layers reveal themselves. Erikson's really created a treat for the reader willing to commit to this behemoth of a series!(less)