Consider Phlebas (Culture)

Iain M. Banks
"Dazzlingly original." -- Daily Mail"Gripping, touching and funny." -- TLSThe war raged across the galaxy. Billions had died, billions more were doomed. Moons, planets, the very stars themselves, faced destruction, cold-blooded, brutal, and worse, random. The Idirans fought for their Faith; the Culture for its moral right to exist. Principles were at stake. There could be no surrender. Within the cosmic conflict, an individual crusade. Deep within a fabled labyrinth on a barren world, a Planet of the Dead proscribed to mortals, lay a fugitive Mind. Both the Culture and the Idirans sought it. It was the fate of Horza, the Changer, and his motley crew of unpredictable mercenaries, human and machine, actually to find it, and with it their own destruction.

Reviews

Reviewed: 2018-08-12

*throws up hands* This book was INFURIATING. It was a meandering, loosely structured, occasionally profound mess. If action's not your thing, be warned--there are hundreds of pages of it. (If I have to read "Horza gunned it" one more time, I'm going to drop-kick a watermelon.)

The fact that Consider Phlebas is considered an SF classic bewilders me. What gives Iain M. Banks the right to write 50 pages of space battle? I get that it's a space opera, but MYGOD, the action was such a slog to get through. The detail was too much; what should have been suspenseful was excruciatingly dull.

So, why 3 stars?

SHIT, I DON'T NOW. I mean, The Idiran-Culture War is the single most fascinating thing in the story, but it's a side plot to a militant, masturbatory mercenary-protagonist. Horza is utterly unlikable--that he might be a foil to the Culture is the only thing that redeems this book. 

Because, to give Banks' credit, the Culture is captivating. Scenes with two of its citizens, Balveda and Fal 'Ngeestra, were what kept me coming back to Consider Phlebas after pages of nonsensical digression. Incredibly nuanced (and for my part, far more sympathetic than Horza), these characters showed a glimmer of what Banks' has to offer. They've convinced me not to write him off just yet.

So, did I enjoy Consider Phlebas

HELL NO.

Will I read more of the Culture series?

I mean, yeah. Maybe.

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