Use of Weapons : Culture

  • by Iain M. Banks
  • Narrated by Peter Kenny
  • Series: Culture
  • 13 hrs and 30 mins
  • Unabridged Audiobook

Publisher's Summary

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 toward 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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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful

Tips on how to listen to this novel - NO SPOILERS

This is one of the Culture Series books, best introduced by "Player of Games" if the series is not familiar. Use of Weapons has a complex, non-linear structure that can be difficult to follow in audio format. The prolog establishes an event at a particular point in time, call it time t-zero. The story then begins at time t plus 13 and is told in alternating chapters, half of them moving backward toward t-zero, and the other half moving forward from time t plus 13. You arrive at the end of the book when the backward narrative reaches t-zero just as the forward narrative reaches a climax that reveals the real meaning of the events in the prolog. It is cleverly done, but you really do have to pay attention. This one is not for casual listening while you multitask. I would also suggest re-listening to the beginning of the book after you have finished it. Knowing the whole story really changes the meaning of the events at the book's opening. Brilliantly done, and exquisitely handled by Peter Kenny, who does not just read the book, he performs the story.
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- Ken

Audiobook might not be the right way to go.

The Culture series is one of my favorites, and this book is no exception (although Player of Games is still my favorite). Of the Culture books that I've read though, this one's story is the least linear and most disjointed, which, in my opinion is trickier to follow on audio.

The book is set up with an ongoing storyline in the present, with each chapter followed by a (critical) section detailing a portion of the main character's history, each section further and further into the past. It's a great way to tell a story, but I almost need to re-listen to this book now that I have a better picture of the story as a whole. Typically keeping everything straight isn't a problem for me when I just read a book and am able to speed up and slow down a little more naturally (compared to somebody reading to book to me at their pace).

That being said, if you enjoy the Culture series, I really do think that you'll enjoy this book too. Consider reading the book, and not listening to the audiobook, but either way, you'll still be pleased.
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- Nicholas

Book Details

  • Release Date: 04-02-2013
  • Publisher: Hachette Audio