Against a Dark Background by Iain M Banks

I’m a rabid Culture fan but alas I have finished reading the whole series. I am now forced to dig into Mr. Banks’ back catalogue to see if I can find some magical books I missed. Sadly, while this book wasn’t a bore, it wasn’t as incredible as The Culture series novels.

This novel’s main character is Lady Sharrow. She’s from an aristocratic family but she has a military background. She is on the hunt for ancient artifacts and in particular the last of the mythical Lazy Guns. There are 8 but only 1 that is undiscovered. The story progresses in a fairly linear manner with Lady Sharrow gathering supplies and old friends to help her. Along the way, we do learn about more of her back story . Oh yeah, there is a religious cult trying to kill her? Those unfamiliar with Banks’ style may find the way he jumps from the present to the past jarring but old hands like me had no trouble following it.

So, what was wrong with the book? Nothing really. It is just not The Culture series. This story is much more straightforward than The Culture series which is a benefit and a flaw. In The Culture series, there is allusion to, and a larger story of factions and politicians vying for power. You don’t get a a good sense of the world this story inhabits.

Rating: ★★★

Book #82 in my 2022 Reading Challenge

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