The Player of Games : Culture

  • by Iain M. Banks
  • Narrated by Peter Kenny
  • Series: Culture
  • 11 hrs and 25 mins
  • Unabridged Audiobook

Publisher's Summary

The Culture - a human/machine symbiotic society - has thrown up many great Game Players, and one of the greatest is Gurgeh. Jernau Morat Gurgeh. The Player of Games. Master of every board, computer, and strategy. Bored with success, Gurgeh travels to the Empire of Azad, cruel and incredibly wealthy, to try their fabulous game... a game so complex, so like life itself, that the winner becomes emperor. Mocked, blackmailed, almost murdered, Gurgeh accepts the game, and with it the challenge of his life - and very possibly his death.

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What the Critics Say

"Poetic, humorous, baffling, terrifying, sexy - the books of Iain M. Banks are all these things and more." (NME)
"An exquisitely riotous tour de force of the imagination which writes its own rules simply for the pleasure of breaking them." (Time Out)

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful

Great introduction to The Culture series

On the surface this is a great adventure story in which the playing of games becomes as exciting as a physical combat scene in an action movie. Underneath it is a provocative discussion of how intelligent individuals who live as part of larger social groups might best arrange their relationships with each other. The themes are abstract, brilliantly captured in the game play itself, yet never, ever tedious or boring. I agree with reviewer Guy that this is a great introduction to the The Culture series, so this is especially recommended for those who have not previously encountered Banks. Peter Kenny read the story brilliantly, doing an exceptional job of giving each character a unique voice.
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- Ken "Say something about yourself!"

Disappointing after the hype

The Culture novels get a lot of praise, and so I've tried to break into the series many times. I started in with Matter, lost interest and then tried Consider Phlebas, lost interest and then finally tried The Player of Games, which was supposed to be the best entry point into the Culture universe.

As with the first two novels I tried, I found that Banks has no interest in easing the reader into his universe. In fact, had I not already had a little bit of back story from my brief forays into his other works, I probably would have been left with a lot more questions at the end of this novel.

Thoughts on the writing style: It's somewhat engaging, accessible certainly, but far from captivating. This was not a page-turner so to speak.

There were moments, conservatively scattered, where I did find myself very invested in the protagonist... but then there were also passages that hardly even held my attention. Oddly when I tuned back in 20 minutes later, I found I really hadn't missed anything critical.

There are definitely some very clever aspects to the Culture universe. I love Banks's handling of robots- from tiny droids to powerful AI minds he them utilizes them more cleverly than almost any sci-fi writer I've encountered.

The characters and the plot seem under cooked in this novel, but Banks's unusually sharp grasp of humanity's inevitable progress in the future kept everything on track.

I realize that this is one of Banks's earlier attempts, and so I am hopeful that as I return to some of his newer works I will find that he grew into a better author regarding character development and crafting suspense.
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- Amazon Customer "I value intelligent stories with characters I can relate to. I can appreciate good prose, but a captivating plot is way more important."

Book Details

  • Release Date: 05-06-2011
  • Publisher: Hachette Audio