Use of Weapons (Culture Series #3)

( 69 )

Overview

The man known as Cheradenine Zakalwe was one of Special Circumstances' foremost agents, changing the destiny of planets to suit the Culture through intrigue, dirty tricks and military action.

The woman known as Diziet Sma had plucked him from obscurity and pushed him towards his present eminence, but despite all their dealings she did not know him as well as she thought.

The drone known as Skaffen-Amtiskaw knew both of these people. It had once...

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Use of Weapons (Culture Series #3)

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Overview

The man known as Cheradenine Zakalwe was one of Special Circumstances' foremost agents, changing the destiny of planets to suit the Culture through intrigue, dirty tricks and military action.

The woman known as Diziet Sma had plucked him from obscurity and pushed him towards his present eminence, but despite all their dealings she did not know him as well as she thought.

The drone known as Skaffen-Amtiskaw knew both of these people. It had once saved the woman's life by massacring her attackers in a particularly bloody manner. It believed the man to be a lost cause. But not even its machine could see the horrors in his past.

Ferociously intelligent, both witty and horrific, USE OF WEAPONS is a masterpiece of science fiction.

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780316030571
  • Publisher: Orbit
  • Publication date: 7/28/2008
  • Series: Culture Series , #3
  • Edition description: Reprint
  • Pages: 512
  • Sales rank: 157,563
  • Product dimensions: 5.40 (w) x 8.20 (h) x 1.50 (d)

Meet the Author

Iain Banks came to controversial public notice with the publication of his first novel, The Wasp Factory, in 1984. Consider Phlebas, his first science fiction novel, was published under the name Iain M. Banks in 1987. He is now widely acclaimed as one of the most powerful, innovative and exciting writers of his generation.

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Table of Contents

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Customer Reviews

Average Rating 4
( 69 )
Rating Distribution

5 Star

(29)

4 Star

(22)

3 Star

(10)

2 Star

(4)

1 Star

(4)

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See All Sort by: Showing 1 – 20 of 69 Customer Reviews
  • Anonymous

    Posted November 19, 2003

    Futuristic mercenary working for a powerful benevolent race

    I was first introduced to Iain Banks by reading his book 'Consider Phlebas'. Of the space science fiction genre, I found his detail and depth of imagery astounding. I recommend that book to sci-fi fans. 'Use of Weapons' could be simply described as being about a futuristic mercenary doing deeds for a powerful benevolent race. But this is not a simple book. Two story lines interweave in alternating chapters. The first is traditional, moving forward in time, following one plot line. The other goes backward in time, each chapter number counting backward as well, and touches on past events that increasingly explain events and people being followed in the upward counting chapters. This manner of story telling certainly requires a great attention to detail by the reader, but the reward at the end is worth it, as we finally discover what really is going on. After finishing the book I found myself re-reading many sections, rediscovering many things I had missed. I will be looking for what seems to be a sequel, 'States of War'.

    4 out of 4 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted May 1, 2010

    I Also Recommend:

    Banks' Best

    I think that of the Iain Banks science fiction I've read, Use of Weapons is easily his best. It's a pretty challenging read too, since it actually has two plot threads that are told starting from one point in time. One moves forward chronologically, and the other backwards to earlier events. These two threads are intermixed in alternating chapters, so as you read the book you are jumping further forward or back in time. This is confused a bit more by introducing a handful of flashbacks, but if you stick with it the rewards are manifest.

    The overall story focuses a skilled mercenary called Zakalwe, that works for a post-scarcity, utopian civilization known as the Culture. Asked to fight their battles, he kills so that the Culture doesn't have to dirty its hands with the bloody business of imperialism. The book slowly pieces together this man's life until he finally confronts the disturbing past that drives him to keep fighting.

    Use of Weapons reads a lot like Iain Banks' other Culture novels, with detailed action sequences, broader looks at interstellar society, and lots of little crumbs and twists that keep you guessing about the plot. However, it differs from the space opera feel of Consider Phlebas, or the meandering conspiracy of Excession. The scope is also smaller, where most of the Culture novels blow your mind with the scale of the galaxy, Use of Weapons focuses on smaller set pieces.

    The book is amazing for multiple readings too, since after you've finished it the first time you will notice many more details on subsequent readings. The end also casts a very different light on the various chapters of the book, allowing you to reinterpret things again and again.

    Overall I would say that if you like Iain Banks' other Culture novels, you really owe it to yourself to read Use of Weapons.

    In regards to the reviewer that said the cruelty doesn't advance the plot, I'm inclined to say that that person hasn't read the book.

    3 out of 3 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted December 17, 2012

    Highly Recommended for More Advanced Readers

    The Culture novels by Iain M. Bank are all very good but by no means 'light' reading! The plots are complicated and the author makes you concentrate on the when and where you are within the stories.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted May 1, 2011

    more from this reviewer

    Another fine Culture novel

    Arguably the best, richest SF galactic Empire series since Asimov, the Culture series spans centuries of time and a series of interwoven plots that truly compel.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted April 12, 2011

    Terrible!

    If you enjoy books that make sense, have a story line that draws you in and holds you and then has a pleasing resolution at the end, then this book is not for you! It takes nearly half the book for the story line to start making sense, then just as things start moving, the author looses it, takes the characters in a totally unrelated tangent and then for an ending everything just runs down the drain. This isn't good science fiction and it isn't even a good story. And to think I believed the hype about this guy and bought two of his books! Save your money and don't waste your time!

    1 out of 9 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted December 11, 2010

    Perhaps Banks's best

    An incredible journey grounded in Banks's rich Culture universe. Is the rougish semi-hero what he apppears to be, or is there more to his story.

    1 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted February 1, 2010

    I enjoyed this book very much. Could not read it fast enough.

    I have found IAIN BANKS a challenging writer to read. Some of his stuff, like "Use of Weapons" I could not get enough of. Others, not so much. I was
    hoping he had created a follow on book. But apparently not.

    Randy

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted June 13, 2013

    This was a bit more difficult to read. Read it twice and enjoyed

    This was a bit more difficult to read. Read it twice and enjoyed it. Must be attentive as you read. Ian M. Banks - we will miss you. RIP.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted April 6, 2013

    Not hooked

    Read sample and concluded that this was another piece of macho SF that relies on violence as a cheap substitute for "grit". The writing was a bit over done but skillfully executed. Nevertheless I won't be reading further

    0 out of 3 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted November 5, 2011

    No continuity

    Reads like a set of short stories with some glue to try to bind them together. I've liked the Culture series so far but not this one. I skimmed a few chapters as some of the flashbacks were dull and repetitive. In other books I like how Banks builds the momentum of the story. None of that here. As soon as things start to get interesting there is a scene change and off on an unrelated tangent.

    0 out of 4 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted November 3, 2010

    No Plot

    After reading the other reviews of this book, I expected this to be ten dollars well spent. I wish I had my ten dollars back! One hundred sixty pages in and I couldn't stand it any more. Total waste of time. I suppose I'm a bit old school in that I expect a book to at least have a discernable plot. Not so with Use of Weapons. Just a lot of mindless running around. Don't waste your money.

    0 out of 4 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted October 29, 2010

    Confusing use of flashbacks make this hard to read

    This is one of the few books that I almost didn't finish. The concept is interesting enough. However, the book quite randomly flashes back to various times in the character's past, but it's never to the same time. I believe there's 7 random time frames that are flashed back to very often. The issue is, these flashbacks often occur in the middle of a chapter. It takes 2-3 paragraphs simply to get your bearings straight. Good luck keeping characters straight and remembering who is from what time frame. Zakalwe, the protagonist, is well developed and is your stereotypical antihero. None of the other characters are developed at all. Towards the end, the author tried to examine the whole "how do we know what is good or bad?" concept and falls completely flat. Good concept, poor execution. I've seen Kubrick films that were easier to follow.

    0 out of 3 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted March 15, 2009

    Avoid this book if you don't like gratuitous cruelty

    Banks can write very good books but they are marred by gratuitous cruelty. I have taken out pages of graphic torture in my copies and it does not alter the plot in any way. Banks must have been told by some editor that his books wouldn't sell unless they had this type of add-on. It just ruins a good book, and leads one to think Banks is too easily led. I hope he has the strength to write book of his own without needless add-ons of cruelty.

    0 out of 5 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted April 13, 2011

    No text was provided for this review.

  • Anonymous

    Posted June 7, 2011

    No text was provided for this review.

  • Anonymous

    Posted August 20, 2011

    No text was provided for this review.

  • Anonymous

    Posted July 15, 2011

    No text was provided for this review.

  • Anonymous

    Posted December 26, 2010

    No text was provided for this review.

  • Anonymous

    Posted January 15, 2010

    No text was provided for this review.

  • Anonymous

    Posted July 12, 2010

    No text was provided for this review.

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