Series: Culture #3
Well that was disappointing. I was tempted to give it 3 stars overall while reading (before I got to the end) since although the present-day chapters were fairly interesting, the past chapters were duller and sometimes maudlin. Then I got to the “twist” at the end and was disappointed by it. I had caught the references to it earlier and was hoping I was wrong but… nope. If it weren’t Banks, I’d probably drop my rating lower, but I guess I’ll keep it at two stars.
The present-day chapters follow Cheradine Zakalwe as he’s recruited by Diziet Sma (I like her first name) to convince this old political to come out of retirement to put off a war. Zakalwe’s skill is winning wars, basically, so the “past” chapters show various scenes from his past, some of them boring and some of them brutal. These interleaved chapters make up the book. There’s also a drone called Skaffen-Amtiskaw who starts off as a bit of a jerk but becomes more interesting as the book goes along. Sma doesn’t have much of a personality, unfortunately, despite her cool name.
I read this for the Water Works square in booklikes-opoly since there’s water on the cover. It turns out that it’s a grounded battleship in front of a city on the cover and it seems like it was grounded in drydock in a shipyard so there would be water around it somewhere, so I think the stuff that looks like water is water. Hopefully that clears up some confusing elements of the cover (while opening a whole new can of worms as far as confusing context goes). Anyway, the book is 411 pages, so that’s another $5 for my bank, bringing my total to $48.