Get a free audiobook

Use of Weapons

Culture Series, Book 3
Written by: Iain M. Banks
Narrated by: Peter Kenny
Series: Culture, Book 3
Length: 13 hrs and 28 mins
4.5 out of 5 stars (31 ratings)

CDN$ 14.95/month after 30 days. Cancel anytime.

Publisher's Summary

The man known as Cheradenine Zakalwe was one of Special Circumstances' foremost agents, changing the destiny of planets to suit the Culture through intrigue, dirty tricks or military action. The woman known as Diziet Sma had plucked him from obscurity and pushed him towards his present eminence, but despite all their dealings she did not know him as well as she thought. The drone known as Skaffen-Amtiskaw knew both of these people. It had once saved the woman's life by massacring her attackers in a particularly bloody manner. It believed the man to be a burnt-out case. But not even its machine intelligence could see the horrors in his past.

©1990 Iain M. Banks (P)2012 Hachette Digital

What members say

Average Customer Ratings

Overall

  • 4.5 out of 5 stars
  • 5 Stars
    19
  • 4 Stars
    8
  • 3 Stars
    3
  • 2 Stars
    0
  • 1 Stars
    1

Performance

  • 5 out of 5 stars
  • 5 Stars
    26
  • 4 Stars
    4
  • 3 Stars
    0
  • 2 Stars
    0
  • 1 Stars
    0

Story

  • 4.5 out of 5 stars
  • 5 Stars
    16
  • 4 Stars
    9
  • 3 Stars
    3
  • 2 Stars
    1
  • 1 Stars
    0

Reviews - Please select the tabs below to change the source of reviews.

Sort by:
Filter by:
  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    4 out of 5 stars

Great Read

Closer to suspense then sci-fi. Great twist at the end. definitely recommend it to anyone seeking something a bit more cerebral.

1 person found this helpful

  • Overall
    1 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    4 out of 5 stars

Very difficult to follow along

I love this format for book but not for audio, I found this book very difficult to follow along. I only listened to it sporadically while running errands or doing yard work, and whenever I picked it back up I would forget what direction the story was going at the place I last left it. Peter Kenney did a great job, and the story was fine but the format was wrong for this medium.

  • Overall
    3 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    4 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    3 out of 5 stars

Not bad, not great

I had heard this was the best Culture novel so my expectations were high, and I came away a bit disappointed. I didn't like it as much as Player of Games, and the non-linear story organization was more confusing than interesting. Maybe reading it would have suited the style better, but listening to it, I had trouble following along.

Sort by:
Filter by:
  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Jacobus
  • 2012-04-20

Persevere and find gold!

Iaian M. Banks writes (what I would call) philosophical science fiction. He uses his stories to raise important ethical questions and to comment on the political establishment of the day. ???Use of Weapons??? is no exception. When listening to the story it might help asking yourself ???What is the weapon(s) used in the story and by whom????

When Special Circumstances a division of Contact, the (machine-humanoid symbiotic) Culture???s ???Intelligence Agency??? uses the man, Cheradenine Zakalwe, as an agent to do its dirty work, it eventually has to come to terms with his past. Banks hereby raises the question of superpowers using unknown front figureheads and groups to do their dirty bidding in ensuring that the world is shaped according to their will. What happens if this fa??ade cracks?

The story is complexly structured. There are two numbering systems in the book, a story going from chapter to chapter in chronological order and a numeral system which consists of back flashes seemingly arranged in a reverse chronological order. The numeral chapters give the listener hints an a little bit of insight into the person and being of Cheradenine Zakalwe. When the current time and the past collides the puzzle suddenly fits and the ???aha??? moment arrives. This makes the book in my opinion outstanding.

I found that while the story that moved from chapter to chapter was straightforward, the numeral chapters kept you guessing. I enjoyed the way the numeral chapters were written; each one could be a short story on its own.

Banks makes the listener a sleuth, encouraging you to puzzle out the story before he tells you the secret at the most crucial point in the story. He definitely caught me unaware. I think this is where the brilliance of this novel lies in, the surprise.

Peter Kenny, by now synonymous with the reading of Iaian M. Banks??? audio books does an excellent job.

Be warned, it is not an easy book to listen too at first, but is you persevere you will find the gold at the end of the rainbow. It took me a few times of rewinding and listening again to some chapters, but I am really glad I did it.

???Use of Weapons??? is the third Culture novel after ???Consider Phlebas??? and ???The Player of Games.??? I propose that you listen at least to ???Consider Phlebas??? first, just to get the feel for Bank???s science fiction universe. However it is not a must, you might probably enjoy this story just as much without listening/ reading his other books.

It comes highly recommended!

1 person found this helpful

  • Overall
    3 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    4 out of 5 stars
  • Per
  • 2019-09-28

Drags on too long

A good and entertaining, sometimes thought-provoking story that felt marred by an ending that dragged on for far too long.

  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    4 out of 5 stars
  • Oscar
  • 2019-09-05

Slow but fascinating !

Starts slow but is worth sticking to it. The plot structure is a bit confusing, especially on audio book, but the individual chapters are immersive and interesting.
Not my favorite Culture book , but it was actually quite good and probably will re listen to it eventually.

  • Overall
    3 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    4 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    3 out of 5 stars
  • Thomas Ohrbom
  • 2018-11-28

A bit of a mess really

I know the structure of it is rather unusual, but to me it was just confusing and not a plus. Great fun at times but overall a disappointment. By far the weakest of the Culture Series; I've currently finished the first six books of the series.

  • Overall
    1 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    4 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    1 out of 5 stars
  • James Arnold
  • 2018-11-14

Nope! Does not work as an audible book.

The structure of this book does not work at all with the two intersecting story lines. But I could not keep clear in what story line I was on. And within the storylines it jumps a lot. It kind of pays off in the end but not really. Maybe read this one.

  • Overall
    2 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    4 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    1 out of 5 stars
  • JCRW
  • 2018-02-01

Most disappointing book in the series

should have known by the title. It was a wandering mess going from one war to another. lacking absolutely all of the high minded big ideas that make this series worth reading

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Nick
  • 2016-08-19

Another excellent culture novel

another great listen. The first three culture booms have been all excellent, and their narration makes then shine