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Use of Weapons (Culture, #3)
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message 1: by Chris (new)

Chris Ward | 75 comments Mod
Discuss Use of Weapons here.


message 2: by Felicity (new)

Felicity Savage (felicitysavage) | 7 comments In my opinion, this is the best Iain M. Banks book, narrowly beating out Consider Phlebas, with Player of Games in third place.


message 3: by Chris (new)

Chris Ward | 75 comments Mod
Is this the one with the mad twist or is that Player of Games? Been about fifteen years since I read it.


message 4: by Tim (new) - rated it 4 stars

Tim Smith | 21 comments This was an amazing book. What I loved was that the twist came right at the end (the very last page if I remember). One of the best books he's written.


message 5: by Felicity (new)

Felicity Savage (felicitysavage) | 7 comments Dude, this was one of the best books I have ever READ, period. Yes, the twist was right at the end. Brilliant because the main character's back-story seemed to make sense all along ... but once you knew the truth, it made even more sense.


message 6: by Chris (new)

Chris Ward | 75 comments Mod
Ah yeah, I remember now. That twist was really clever. I ruined The Wasp Factory because I'd heard the twist was on the very last page, and I couldn't resist checking, but with this one I had no idea there was going to be a twist until I got to the end. I might go and re-read it.


John | 1 comments Podcast about Use Of Weapons
http://www.guardian.co.uk/books/audio...


message 8: by Michael (new)

Michael Brookes (Technohippy) | 22 comments Mod
Cool, thanks for posting.


David | 8 comments The only book I have ever read the last page of and immediately turned back to page 1 and began reading again. Words cannot explain how great this book is.....


Jagan | 2 comments Every couple of years, i reread all the Culture novels. It just gets better every time


Colin Ryan (Colin_Ryan) | 5 comments Yes David, I also finished this book and immediately started again, due mainly to the fact that I was extremely confused upon completion. The second time through was much easier as I had worked out that the alternate chapters were following opposite timelines, one forward and one backwards. Masterful use of a difficult style and a great introduction to the Culture reality.


message 12: by Lee (new) - rated it 5 stars

Lee | 2 comments Quite possibly the best book ever written. Full stop.


Rowan Evenstar (zenrhe) | 2 comments I'm looking forward to getting to the end. But at the moment it all feels a bit of a muddle. Even with it explaining at the beginning about one bit going forward in time, and one in backwards. I find I come across a scene and go 'crap, I remember a scene that was before this, but I can't really remember the details'. Which means I spend the beginning of most chapters pretty confused. And I don't like being confused so much when reading.


message 14: by Bnz (new)

Bnz | 29 comments Let me give you a hint: you don't have to "stitch together" in your head chapters in backward stream too closely - they are important to form the picture of the Culture and our mercenary hero, but are pretty much stand-alone. Forward stream, the one with spelled out chapter numbers beginning with abrupt re-assignment of Diziet Sma forms more of a consistent story.

Just read it - the end is quite brilliant. Then, in a year or two, re-read it to catch details and references missed in first pass.


Nathan Clark | 1 comments Was anyone else as impressed with the take on morality as practiced by Special Circumstances as I was? Zakalwe is recruited by them for breaking the siege of Staberinde even though he did so by committing what any normal Culture citizen would consider a truly horrific act. He is then let go and considered washed up for his failure to break the siege at the Winter Palace.


message 16: by Bnz (new)

Bnz | 29 comments Nathan wrote: "Was anyone else as impressed with the take on morality as practiced by Special Circumstances as I was?"

Bankie was always ambiguous about his utopia, and made sure that there were plenty of flies in the ointment... I can't remember any Culture book without some serious moral dilemma.


message 17: by Leah (new) - rated it 4 stars

Leah Nicolich-henkin | 2 comments Culture didn't know about his past on the Staberinde. They came to him after he was practically killed on the frozen planet for sticking up to his superiors and not following orders very well. Sma is surprised when his secret is revealed.


message 18: by Jason10mm (new)

Jason10mm | 1 comments I just finished it. So, to get this straight, Elethiomel flees in the 100 year ship under a fake name, enlists as a pilot on the iceberg planet, and then is shot in the head, and THIS is what starts his personality/identity confusion? Then he is tossed into the snow, recruited by Sma, and hums along in various stages of mental disarray, thuinking he is Zak, until he has his aneurysm at the end, and is healed but has his earliest memories excised, thus he is cool with chairs in the "prologue" bits in the fortress? And the epilogue with the amputee is just Sma recruiting yet another weapon?


message 19: by Leah (last edited Sep 05, 2014 02:04PM) (new) - rated it 4 stars

Leah Nicolich-henkin | 2 comments Jason10mm wrote: "I just finished it. So, to get this straight, Elethiomel flees in the 100 year ship under a fake name, enlists as a pilot on the iceberg planet, and then is shot in the head, and THIS is what start..."

I don't think he ever truly didn't know
his identity. I think in his attempt to put his former life behind him and sort of express his love for the people he'd killed, he took on their identities. Then he lived their identities for so long that he almost believed them himself, but still knew deep down who he was.


message 20: by Ian (new) - rated it 5 stars

Ian Banks | 5 comments Just done a reread: I think Z's phobia of chairs does indicate a certain amount of remorse for his past, as does his constant striving to win the impossible battles that SC send him too. The ambiguity in the title shows that he wants to be able to follow orders and have his actions blamed elsewhere, losing his autonomy. Until the reveal he does behave like a person seeking his way and trying to do the best good he can, bewildering though his assignments might be. After the reveal it's hard to believe that he can make up for it.

As an aside: this was the first time I've ever felt that Sma doth protest too much about barbarism on the worlds where she sends Z. It just highlights the ambiguity mentioned upstream about the morality of the Culture. I'll see how I feel again after my next reread in a few more years.


message 21: by Bnz (new)

Bnz | 29 comments Ian wrote: "It just highlights the ambiguity mentioned upstream about the morality of the Culture."

Consider Phlebas / Look to Windward duo underscores that ambiguity even more. One could see more than few hints of Banksie's disillusionment about his creation in the latter one, including the Culture engaging in an act of revenge, plain and simple.

But that only makes the Culture so much more believable.


message 22: by Ian (new) - rated it 5 stars

Ian Banks | 5 comments I dunno: Horza was suspicious of them all the way back in CP: I never thought Banks lost faith, just that he had no illusions about how all that power and tech would be used.


message 23: by Bnz (new)

Bnz | 29 comments Ian wrote: "I dunno: Horza was suspicious of them all the way back in CP: I never thought Banks lost faith, just that he had no illusions about how all that power and tech would be used."

Horza did have his suspicions, and destruction of that orbital did nothing to alleviate them, but it was a view from an outsider. The Mind he helped rescuing did not seem to mind, and indeed named itself after him (IIRC).

OTOH, you are right, a SC agent (Belveda?) showed the ultimate degree of disillusionment at the end...

But Look to Windward shows some rather extreme decadence of a portion of Culture population (from trying to communicate with food to re-inventing money in order to allocate limited room for attending the Chelgrian composer's concert in person, despite telepresence being indistinguishable from the real thing); the SC botches royally the Chelgrian case by provoking a catastrophic civil war and Culture fails to atone for it (although showing great guilt for having failed to prevent Two Novae genocide out of sheer pride and stubbornness); the final act of revenge (only hinted at) along the way of "You don't f**k with Culture" if totally uncharacteristic of the Culture of, say, The Player of Games etc.


message 24: by Ian (new) - rated it 5 stars

Ian Banks | 5 comments Absolutely right there: my memory is a little hazy on LtW because I've not read it for some time. I think that Banks gave the Culture a rest for nearly a decade after that before giving us Matter. However, just to keep the discussion going (!) my impression from PoG was that the SC were doing anything they could to get Gurgeh on side even so far as blackmailing him into joining up. Though that may be a faulty reading on my part.


message 25: by Bnz (new)

Bnz | 29 comments No, you are right: SC did blackmail Gurgeh - that's a detail I forgot.


message 27: by Ian (new) - rated it 5 stars

Ian Banks | 5 comments Ah, evidently emoticons won't post here


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Books mentioned in this topic

Consider Phlebas (other topics)
Look to Windward (other topics)
The Player of Games (other topics)