Use of Weapons
Iain M. Banks
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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.
The best Culture novel
Most of Banks's SF novels tie into his "Culture" universe, and of these Use of Weapons is, in my opinion, the best.
This book has a more interesting structure than most of Banks's novels (which tend to be pretty conventional multiple character omniscient narrator). The book is telling two stories about the same character, an agent of Special Circumstances (the Culture's covert dirty tricks organ). Each story is chopped into pieces which are interleaved, with the second (later) story told backwards (so that the two converge).
People who don't like nonlinear storytelling are apt to find this structure a bit annoying. I loved it.
The other thing readers may object to is that the book is very, very graphically violent.
Aside from that, it's a gripping story, well told, bursting with ideas both original or borrowed and twisted.
Difficult to enjoy
I found this method of story telling very jarring and I nearly gave up on completing the book. the ending does help tie it together but I found it unsatisfying. I'm reading the culture books in order and found 'consider phlebas' And 'player of games' easier to enjoy.
Use of weapons
Easy enjoyable read. Great sarcasm from the drones as usual. Enjoy!!!