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The Player of Games Paperback – Aug 10 1989

4.5 out of 5 stars 6 customer reviews

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 320 pages
  • Publisher: Orbit (Aug. 10 1989)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1857231465
  • ISBN-13: 978-1857231465
  • Product Dimensions: 12.9 x 2.3 x 19.7 cm
  • Shipping Weight: 222 g
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars 6 customer reviews
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #16,563 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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Product Description

From Library Journal

The Culture's greatest game player travels to the Empire of Azad to participate in a complex competition that could settle the fates of two civilizations. Theauthor of Consider Phlebas vividlyportrays an empire ruled by arcane conventions and sophisticated brutality in an ambitious novel of gamesmanship and intrigue. Supple prose and subtle manipulations of plot produce a thought-provoking story which is highly recommended.-- JC
Copyright 1989 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.


Few of us have been exposed to a talent so manifest and of such extraordinary breadth―THE NEW YORK REVIEW OF SCIENCE FICTION

Poetic, humorous, baffling, terrifying, sexy - the books of Iain M. Banks are all these things and more―NME

In The Player of Games, Iain M. Banks presents a distant future that could almost be called the end of history. Humanity has filled the galaxy, and thanks to ultra-high technology everyone has everything they want, no one gets sick, and no one dies. It's―Brooks Peck, AMAZON.CO.UK

Banks is an incredibly talented writer. All his books are lively and entertaining. They are laced with a wry humour, fascinating characters and inspired plots. THE PLAYER OF GAMES, I am pleased to say is no exception... Go on, treat yourself, you won't be disappointed.―STARBURST

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Customer Reviews

4.5 out of 5 stars
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Top Customer Reviews

Format: Paperback
The Player of Games is the second of Iain M Banks' Culture novels, and has nothing to do with the previous book, Consider Phlebas.

Jernau Gurgeh, a game theorist and the Culture's best game-player, is recruited by the Culture's Contact division to travel to the far-off Empire of Azad in the Small Magellanic Cloud. The entire political system of the Empire is based around a complicated board game, also called Azad: ranks in the military and government, for instance, are won by advancing in Azad tournaments, with the title of Emperor going to the ultimate victor. Gurgeh, of course, is invited to join an upcoming tournament as an honoured guest, rather than compete for any prize.

After arriving on the Azad homeworld after a few years of travel and study of the game, Gurgeh surprises his hosts with his unique, alien style of play and his steady advancement through the tournament ladder. This makes up most of the novel, with some detours into the Empire's growing unease of Gurgeh's success and the hidden brutality the it uses to suppress its population.

On a larger scale, it seems that The Player of Games is Banks' attempt to introduce the Culture and its philosophies (beyond what we saw in Consider Phlebas) by contrasting them against those of the Empire. While the Empire is violently repressive, militaristic, and strongly divided by class (to the point of supporting slavery), the Culture is a post-scarcity society with little crime and no formal laws, equality for numerous sentient species and AIs, and a much more peaceful foreign policy. Of course, we don't see much of the Culture directly—utopia doesn't make for interesting plot—but Gurgeh's reactions to the increasingly horrific Empire give an excellent view into the mind of a Culture individual.
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Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
The style is loose and initially the story is a little confusing because the author assumes the reader is familiar with the contexts (although such context actually does not exist). However, as the story progresses the details and seemingly unconnected pastiches come together. Through the mid-game and on into the endgame and conclusion the story becomes increasingly compelling. An increasingly addictive page-turner.
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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
I'm trying to read the Iain M Banks canon in chronological order (publication date). I really liked The Player of Games. His portrayal of the alien Empire of Azad was fascinating, and the story was pretty gripping. I love the way he writes.
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