Amanda's Reviews > The Algebraist

The Algebraist by Iain M. Banks
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Mar 05, 11

Recommended to Amanda by: Matthew
Read from February 04 to March 06, 2011

** spoiler alert ** I don’t read much sci-fi, but I stuck with this book on my husband’s recommendation, despite the fact that it was so dense and pretty slow-going for me. For the most part, I enjoyed Banks’ story, and was invested enough in the characters to want to know what happened to them in the end. However, I found his writing style somewhat frustrating.

In the beginning of the novel, he seemed to try to tantalize the reader by introducing a new idea (for example, r-human vs. a-human), by just mention it in passing, not explaining it at all. Then, about 150 pages in, he starts elaborating, but sometimes it ended up being extraneous. Why go into such detail on things that end up being not very significant the story?

I admire Banks’ ability to imagine new worlds, and appreciate that’s he’s trying to describe them richly. However, the impatient part of me just wanted him to get on with it, not overly describe some minor facet of their political system for multiple paragraphs.

In the end, I felt a disconnect from the long build-up he kept making to Archimandrite Luseferous and the impending war, and how the war actually played out. Much was made about how dreadful Luseferous was, yet in the end, he was made almost a non-issue by the Dwellers’ supreme, ancient technology. Also, I found it awkward that the focus was on wormholes for so much of the story, yet in the end, Banks seemed to want to focus on AI.

All in all, a much longer period of time than I’m used to devoting to a novel, but still interesting and not wasted time.
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