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Inversions Paperback – Oct 19 2007

3.9 out of 5 stars 12 customer reviews

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Paperback, Oct 19 2007
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Product Details

  • Paperback: 352 pages
  • Publisher: Gallery Books; Reprint edition (Oct. 19 2007)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1416583785
  • ISBN-13: 978-1416583783
  • Product Dimensions: 15.2 x 2.5 x 22.9 cm
  • Shipping Weight: 599 g
  • Average Customer Review: 3.9 out of 5 stars 12 customer reviews
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #2,400,972 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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Product Description

From Publishers Weekly

First published in the U.K. in 1998, Banks's latest novel steps back from the usual grand scale and ultra high-tech of his well-known "Culture" SF series (Excession, etc.) to the intrigue-ridden courts of a politically fragmented world. In Haspidus, a woman named Vosill, a foreigner from the distant archipelago nation of Drezen, serves as personal physician to King Quience, in spite of social mores that treat women as little more than property. Vosill's servant--actually a spy reporting to one of Quience's trusted right-hand men--finds himself doubting his master's claims that Vosill is a danger to the king, even as he uncovers evidence that suggests that Vosill is much more than she seems. Meanwhile, across the mountains, the stern warrior DeWar serves as chief bodyguard to General UrLeyn, the Prime Protector of the Tassasen Protectorate. His close contact with UrLeyn earns him the distrust of UrLeyn's fellow generals; those loyal to UrLeyn fear DeWar himself could be the perfect spy and assassin, while others worry he will discover their own secret plots. As conspiracies unfold and loyalties shift dangerously in both lands, the story of Vosill and DeWar and their unspoken connection unfolds with masterful subtlety. Banks's new novel should further expand his reputation for creating challenging, intelligent stories full of notable characters trapped in complex situations that have no easy solutions. (Feb.)
Copyright 2000 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

From Library Journal

A doctor's devotion to her king and to her profession embroil her in a web of court intrigue and murder as she strives to preserve the health and well-being of the king she has come to love. On the other side of the world, a general's bodyguard risks his life to protect his master. Interweaving a pair of separate but linked tales of devotion and treachery set on a technologically backward world, Banks (The Player of Games) demonstrates his considerable talent for subtle storytelling. Recommended for most sf collections.
Copyright 2000 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

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Customer Reviews

3.9 out of 5 stars
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Top Customer Reviews

Format: Mass Market Paperback
I liked this novel for its richness of plot and mystery. For anyone familiar with Banks' Culture novel, it will be obvious that the two protagonists are from the Culture.
They have a disagreement as cousins growing up together about whether pre-contact civilizations should be left alone or should be meddled with so that they find the true path out of the scarcity stage of planetary evolution. So the cousins decide to put it to the test.
The female becomes a doctor to a king and manipulates him into egalitarian beliefs while the male becomes the protector to the rival king and keeps Culture ethics out. Both have plots against them which they deal with in ways consistent with their beliefs. The doctor by using Culture technology and the protector by adopting the native ways. All this background is gleaned obliquely through childrens' stories, journals and histories written by the natives.
You soon come to realize that the doctor has robot spies and kills her enemies with knife missiles and cures patients with high tech potions. The protector wins by being a swashbuckler. But their covers are so masterfully designed that they fool the reader into doubting if they are Culture or not.
In the end, the doctor fails in her mission and goes back to the Culture, displaced out into space. The protector goes native, perhaps staying to marry one of his king's concubines.
Like other Banks novels, events happen that are puzzling until you collect and put together clues -- not always an easy task. An even more complex novel is his "Use of Weapons." I hope I do not spoil the story for you by revealing some of the plot but I feel you will be more entertained by puzzling less on "just what the hell is going on here." I probably would not have enjoyed it as much if I was not familiar with Banks' universe.
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Format: Mass Market Paperback
The book is made up of two stories that take place on the same world. Two Culture Special Circumstances agents, the bodyguard De War and the doctor Vosill, end up on a pre-contact planet. The man, DeWar has an non-interventionist philosophy which he adheres to strictly while guarding the life of a warlord cum king. Far away, on another continent, the woman Vosill tries to nudge a barbarian king into modernity by acting as both his physician and advisor.
So far so good. I had hoped that these two disparate plot lines would have been united by the last third of the book into one. In past novels, such as Player of Games, Banks aptly was able to comment on our world's politics while making great Science Fiction. This novel could have looked into the tensions between trying to make savages on the world "better" or having respect for the "savages" and letting nature take its course. Another tension Banks could have played with who is the real savage? Is it the people on the planet clawing their way back to civilization from a high-tech apocalyptic war or is it the Culture that seems to foster them with the best of intentions.
Not in this novel. Instead the two storylines and the above-mentioned questions never are brought together or fully explored. This is all the more disappointing as Bank's skill at creating believable worlds and people as well as complex political dynamics is as good as ever.
The whole thus is less than the sum of its parts.
This book would have been better off as two.
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Format: Mass Market Paperback
This was the first Banks novel I read, and I specifically took it with the intention of not reading a Culture novel, as I have heard of the reputation of the Culture novels and wanted to start with a normal Banks novel instead. Needless to say that I ended up being very impressed with Banks when I finished. (as I expected I would be, if only from his reputation)
But that said, certain things about Inversions bugged me. The book left me unfulfilled for one thing, for too much went unexplained at the end. Of course, the reader could make up his own mind about what truly expired, but still.... Plus there was the little matter of that strange dagger...
Then I read the reviews on Amazon and understood the significance of "the smaller things" (relating to the Culture) in Inversions. It was almost like an epiphany. My fellow reviewers are right: You can start with Inversions but it is preferable to read another Culture novel first. The book will just mean so much more. It is however, still a good read for a non-Banks reader who's just looking for a good SF novel to curl up with on a Sunday afternoon.
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Format: Mass Market Paperback
This book easily belongs on the bottom of the Iain Banks collection. A 350 page meandering plotless wonder without the usual Banks' array of colorful intriguing characters. A plot that could easily be summarized in under a page is not that unusual for Banks. (See Look to Windward or Player of Games) However, he usually captivates and entertains by painting lush detailed pictures of a fascinating universe populated by complex compelling characters who take part in sweeping events that are more powerful than they are. The plot is usually simple but the dressing is wonderful. Not so with Inversions. I found myself struggling to even finish the thing as I simply did not care what happened with the Doctor, the Bodyguard, the King, and the Protector, much less the Doctor's assistant or the Protector's son or his concubine or anybody. Banks fails to create even marginal interest in the world these people populate and the razor-thin plot fails to give any sort of weight to the "twist" at the end.
What a disappointment. If you've never read Banks, this book might seem to be ok because he is head and shoulders above most other SF writers even if he were writing in his sleep. But compared to the other stuff he's done, this is pure ....
Also, thinly veiled references to the Culture are preachy and uninteresting to those readers who are familiar with Banks' Culture novels and they are simply confusing and seemingly irrelevant to those who are not. This book is a mess.
For some of the best science fiction on the market today, go to Consider Phlebus or Feersum Endjinn or Look to Windward. Now THOSE are fantastic.
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