Books - Review

Showing all books by: Iain Banks

Isis Whit, Elect of God of the Luskentyrian Church, sets off on a mission to find her cousin Morag, the internationally reknowned baryton player, who seems to have lapsed from her faith. With her sitting board and a vial of the precious zhlonje in her knapsack, Isis goes out into the world of the unsaved. But as her mission unfolds, she begind to wonder if everything her grandfather and founder of their sect, Salvador, has told her is the truth.
Very imaginative and funny. Have read it a couple of times before, but it still seemed original.
Score: 7.5
Published: 1995
Read: February 2nd 2002

The Business
Young Kate is adopted from her impoverished youth in a Scottish slum by Mrs Telman, who introduces her to the 'Business', a massive organisation that dates back to pre-Roman times. She becomes a high-flyer and gets involved in a plot by high level executives to rip someone off, not quite sure who. She also has to sort out her love life of course,
Not bad, although I remember enjoying it more the first time I read it (BC - Before Cambodia).
Score: 7
Published: tbc
Read: July 12th 2002

The Wasp Factory
Frank is a young lad growing up in a remote Scotch community, living on an isolated island with only his odd father for company. He spends his days checking that his guard poles (complete with dried animal heads) are intact, waging war against the local rabbit population and turning to his barbaric wasp factory for predictions of the future. An odd child, but no odder than his brother, Eric, who escapes from the loony bin where he was put after setting fire to a number of local pet dogs.
This was a bit weird, to say the least, with lots of rather distasteful descriptions of premature animal deaths, and one or two human ones too. Gripping stuff though and an intriguing ending makes you wonder how Frank actually stayed as sane as he did.
Score: 7
Published: 1984
Read: December 7th 2002

A Song of Stone
A war in a strange land has ravaged the country. A man and his lover (wife/sister) try and escape as refugees but encounter a lady lieutenant and her band of soldiers who force them back to the castle they have just left. They go on a mission to capture a neighbouring band of soldiers' artillery, but after the celebration party for the successful mission gets out of hand, relations between the lieutenant and the man go sour. Nearly everyone dies in some horrible way or other.
Well I skimmed this pretty fast in one day and it was OK for entertainment but I couldn't be bothered with the more philosophical bits.
Score: 6.5
Published: 1997
Read: December 18th 2002

Dead Air
Talk show DJ with a concience gets mixed up with various criminal types.
Pretty good - first new Banks I have read for ages. Mind you, looking at the dates it's the first book I have read for ages too.
Score: 7.5
Published: 2002
Read: December 20th 2004

The Crow Road
Prentice and his weird family and friends faff around in Scotland, while Prentice slowly discovers just how weird his family are.
Quite good.
Score: 7
Published: tbc
Read: May 20th 2005

Walking on Glass
Strangely interwoven stories - student bloke in love but gay friend not encouraging (as it's his sister and he's having an incestuous realtionship with her). And there's the two alien people trapped in rundown castle made of books who have to play endless games.
OK I guess. Think I've read it before but it must have been ages ago.
Score: 7
Published: 1985
Read: July 20th 2005

The Steep Approach to Garbadale
Alban's family invented the board game Empire! And have made lots of money out of it. Now they have to decide if they want to sell out to the big US firm, or keep it as a family business. Also, the family seems intent on splitting up Al from beautiful cousin Sophie.
Ok, I suppose, but not as gritty somehow as other Banks'. Seemed a bit tame.
Score: 7.5
Published: 2007
Read: April 4th 2007

Cameron is a young reporter covering political stories on a Scottish paper, when he thinks he has discovered a murderous conspiracy, but the body count keeps growing and he can't work out what is going on, until he realises his own childhood is a significant factor, and his best mate Andy disappears.
Good story, characters, and murders. Have read it before of course - in fact I have a vague feeling it might be the first Banks I ever read...?
Score: 8
Published: 1993
Read: September 20th 2009

Canal Dreams
A famous female Japanese cellist travels via boat to US as she is terrified of flying. But she and her fellow passengers firstly get marooned on their ship by war in Panama, and then the local freedom fighters take them hostage. The hostages learn of the terrorists' plan to shoot down a plane-full of congressmen and attempt to escape, but the violence escalates... fortunately the cellist is v. resourceful, good at unarmed combat - and in fact heavily armed combat too. When she's not having weird dreams that is.
OK I suppose, but I thought the dreams stuff a bit of a device that didn't add anything at all.
Score: 6.5
Published: 1989
Read: September 11th 2010

There are infinite parallel Earths and certain gifted people, aided by drugs, can transport themselves between the worlds. Ruled by the Concern, who think torture is OK, and whose leaders grow ever more corrupt, various renegades work to subvert the establishment, free the people from tyranny, and get the search for extra-terrestrials going again.
This was ok. Bit confusing.
Score: 7.5
Published: 2009
Read: January 3rd 2011