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Inversions by Iain M. Banks

Inversions (1998)

by Iain M. Banks

Other authors: See the other authors section.

Series: The Culture (6)

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2,656433,214 (3.66)1 / 72



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English (39)  French (2)  Italian (1)  Spanish (1)  All languages (43)
Showing 1-5 of 39 (next | show all)
The more I think about this book, the more I feel it is one of my favorite Culture books, even though some argue it isn't truly a Culture book at all. It's a... smaller story, in some ways, more personal. It's slow to get going. The ending may leave you with more questions than answers. In a way it's a long exploration of one of the central questions of the Culture -- the question of whether, and how, to meddle in the affairs of other civilizations -- but (perhaps the biggest inversion of all) it feels more importantly like a story of two very real people, and the small things they do that affect the people near them. Culture books have always told vast stories via human relationships, but Inversions tightens that focus even further. It has me thinking about perspective, about love and loyalty, about the stories we tell about ourselves. ( )
1 vote wirehead | Sep 3, 2018 |
**Inversions** by *Iain Banks* is a non-Culture Culture novel – unexpected and refreshing. The story is told in Banks' usual masterful style, and all of pacing, characters, depth, and content are without significant annoyances. I think this is as much Fantasy as Banks will ever get, and I enjoyed the never-quite-touching storylines, and the connections you really had to look out for (and that were never explicitly explained). The fact that I knew that this was a Culture novel added another fun layer, too, because I was constantly considering who was part of the Culture and what their goals were.

The story grows darker towards the end, and while Banks always writes with unprotected people and minorities in mind, I was a bit speechless at how well he first portrayed two cultures filled with class entitlement and elitism, and then contrasted them with torture and a horrifyingly vivid recollection of rape, involving a discussion about the responsibility and reactions of men as a whole. Wow. ( )
  _rixx_ | Aug 30, 2018 |
This book is a Culture novel technically, but it's not like others in the series. The book jumps back and forth between two stories on a pre-technological world with medieval levels of advancement and feudal systems. One story is of a doctor who seems to be a Culture agent and attends to the health of a reasonably enlightened king. The other is of a bodyguard to a ruling general some distance away, whose membership in the Culture is more ambiguous. Oddly, the doctor's story is told from the perspective of her apprentice, while the bodyguard's story is told by a third person narrator.

The stories come together only tangentially and at the end. We never see any of the tech that we've seen in all the other Culture novels. I'm not sure I understood the point of the story. The bodyguard gives some hints that he is from the Culture, but it's never very clear and I'm not sure if I'm missing something or if it's supposed to be ambiguous.

Anyway, the story still moves along well, though I rate it the lowest of the Culture novels that I've read. ( )
1 vote DanTarlin | Feb 21, 2017 |
It alternates between Dr. Vosill & DeWar.

Dr. Vosill is the person physician to the king despite being a foreigner and even worse a woman.

DeWar is the chief bodyguard to the Protector General of Tassasen.

I love Dr. Vosill's assistant the DeWar's relationship with Perrund and Lattens.

The truth about Dr. Vosill is left open ended and I liked it. ( )
  nx74defiant | Feb 11, 2017 |
I read this in one stretch while on long bus and plane trips. It had been recommended to me a while back but I waited to read it in order, and for once I didn't track down an audio version. I picked up the UK paperback edition while over there; Banks just doesn't work as well for me in ebook form, and it seems to be part of my overall return to more print reading.

But on to the book. The novel comprises two parallel stories set in different civilizations on the same planet. It's been described as the non-Culture Culture novel because these societies are closer to late-medieval human societies, and the Culture bits are subtle and hinted at rather than made explicit. Both societies are undergoing social change and are ruled by reasonably decent but definitely non-democratic political systems. There's lots of political intrigue, and the narrators of each story are outsiders who approach their roles in polar opposite ways. One is pro-active and willing to alter the political and social conditions when the opportunity arises, while the other is hands-off to a fault. It's hard to say much about the plot(s) without giving away spoilers. I will say that the two storylines intersect only indirectly and toward the end, but they are both satisfying individually and together they add up to a coherent philosophical and ideological whole.

There are a number of interesting women, including the central character of one storyline. As in so much of Banks's work (with and without the M), villains and heroes/heroines are painted in shades of gray, and he makes us think about difficult issues without providing resolutions. I've seen this book compared to Game of Thrones, and I suppose the medieval politics evokes high fantasy, but there's very little that is supernatural or other-worldly in terms of behavior and human endowments, and the technology is not advanced. It's much more about the interpersonal and institutional aspects of politics, which provide plenty of intrigue and violence, but not in a spectacle-driven way.

I'm still digesting this book. I think it's very good, but I also think that reading it at one fell swoop, while wonderfully immersive, meant that I didn't spend enough time thinking while I was reading. Definitely one for a reread or a reread-via-audio (I need Peter Kenny!). ( )
1 vote Sunita_p | Mar 6, 2016 |
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Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Iain M. Banksprimary authorall editionscalculated
Bailey,BrianCover artistsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Salwowski, MarkCover artistsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 074341196X, Mass Market Paperback)

Iain M. Banks, the international bestselling author of The Player of Games and Consider Phlebas, is a true original, a literary visionary whose brilliant speculative fiction has transported us into worlds of unbounded imagination. Now, in his acclaimed new novel, Banks presents an engrossing portrait of an alien world, and of two very different people bound by a startling and mysterious secret.

On a backward world with six moons, an alert spy reports on the doings of one Dr. Vosill, who has mysteriously become the personal physician to the king despite being a foreigner and, even more unthinkably, a woman. Vosill has more enemies than she first realizes. But then she also has more remedies in hand than those who wish her ill can ever guess.

Elsewhere, in another palace across the mountains, a man named DeWar serves as chief bodyguard to the Protector General of Tassasen, a profession he describes as the business of "assassinating assassins." DeWar, too, has his enemies, but his foes strike more swiftly, and his means of combating them are more direct.

No one trusts the doctor, and the bodyguard trusts no one, but is there a hidden commonality linking their disparate histories? Spiraling around a central core of mystery, deceit, love, and betrayal. Inversions is a dazzling work of science fiction from a versatile and imaginative author writing at the height of his remarkable powers.

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:14:28 -0400)

(see all 2 descriptions)

In the winter palace, the King's new physician has more enemies than she at first realises. In another palace across the mountains, the chief bodyguard of the Protector General also has his enemies.

» see all 3 descriptions

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