Review of 'The Player of Games'

The Player of Games by Iain M. Banks
A 'Culture' book

the-player-of-games.jpg Jernau Morat Gurgeh is one of the Culture's foremost player of games – any type of game – who is persuaded by Contact (an organisation that deals with cultural exchanges with other civilisations) to visit the Empire of Azad to play the game of the same name (Azad) in which betting of body parts is common and which winning defines which position you occupy in society (with the final game being against the emperor himself). Gurgeh studies Azad during his long voyage to the empire and becomes very proficient…Unless the empire kills him first. What is his true purpose in playing these games, what does Contact hope to achieve?

Another wonderful, imaginative and engrossing Culture tale by the master of hard SF Iain M. Banks. The style here is engrossing and engaging throughout with the ending not exactly what you might expect…Fantastic. Ok, the humour is little and far between (as is any real action), Azad is only described in the barest of detail only – though this is probably just as well – but the story is nonetheless a good page-turner. The main characters are quite believable though the secondary ones not so much (particularly the people of Azad who largely remain a mystery – it would have been nice to get a bit more of a personal note from that race). A good read though.

Rating: “Really good but I have some issues”

Review Date: 2010-05-23

Genre: Science Fiction

Publisher: Orbit

Publication Date: 1988

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