Use of Weapons - Sci-fi by name not by nature

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The one thing that sets Mr Banks, work apart from most novels in the sci-fi genre is that it doesn't feel particularly sci-fi in any way other than it's enviroment. There is a good deal of focus on the history and interaction of the main characters and that for me is a key attraction. Yes there are spaceships and robots, but even these often have an integral character part to play as they are sentient beings in their own right. The background into the various races and their political and religious idealogy is always relevant and intrigueing and adds to a rich and believable stage for the events.

Use of weapons is a dark and complex tail centered around it's main character, Cheradenine Zakalwe, who works for the future's equivalent of the CIA. In the midst of a good deal of political intrigue (but not too heavily so) and espionage, the character's dark and gruesome past is brought to light through a series of flash-backs and current events. As with all of Banks' stories there is a strong vein of irony and humour and although you couldn't describe it as moral, it does often cause pause for thought.

Exciting? Yes.
Intrigueing? Definately.

This is only one of a number of novels based in the 'Culture' Universe, and doesn't need to read concurrent to any of the others. I don't believe this to be the strongest of the Culture novels, but still an excellent read.
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