|Submitted by Anonymous|
(Mar 27, 2000)
So what's going on here then ?
Two separate stories in one book. Both set in the same 'world', which may or
may not be Earth after a 'fin de seicle' global disaster.
Each story loosely linked by some mumbo jumbo 'story within a story' gumph, which
purports to show that the main character in each story knew each other in
The main story is that of Vossil. A doctor to a King. She seems to know more about
doctoring than any of the other doctors around. She saves the king on a number of occasions.
She loves the king and is rebuffed by the king. She leaves after having a close shave with a torturer
from which she escapes with some unexplained aid.
The secondary story is that of DeWar. Bodyguard to the protector. A despot. ruler of a land over
the hills somewhere from the land ruled by the king. He seems to know more about things in general
than the generals know about things. He protects the king, he saves the king a couple of times.
eventually he leaves with the kings assasin.
Where they came from, their motivation for leaving their home and each other, is
all unexplained. More importantly, their motivation for taking up their current vocations
is never explained.
It is all probably in the notes of the author. Perhaps waiting for a sequel or a prequel.
There is not much here for hard science fiction fans. The book reads more like a fantasy
with only the hints of superior knowledge and maybe technology of the main protagonists
to keep a hint of science in there.
The storylines, for they are indeed separate, are very slim. Meandering around with
no clear destination. Nothing that could be said to be a plot emerges at all.
In truth, Banks can do better than this. A lot better. this book reads like the restless
jottings of someone with terminal writers block trying to find a direction.
The fact that it got published at all must be down to Banks' prior reputation.
... and yet, There is still something compulsive there that keeps you reading.
Banks' talent for character development and a residual desire to see where this medieval
style world is going keeps you turning the pages.
The conclusion is deeply dissatisfying. There is no final denoument. No revelation about the
origins of the heroes. No discourse on how the world became like it is. No hints
as to how it may develop in the future.
Not even any real hooks to allow a follow up volume.
The novel is to stand or fall on its own merits. In my opinion it falls having
totally failed to make any sort of point whatsoever.
If you are already a Banks fan, you will not miss this one anyway, and you will probably
enjoy the style of writing and the professional way he constructs his books.
If you are not already a fan, or like me, have read a few books and been impressed, then
this book is not for you.
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