Look to Windward

Look to Windward by Iain M. Banks [4/5]

I had been wanting to read one of Iain M. Banks‘ novels for some time, mainly because of his excellent reputation, so when this one was touted as being accessible to newcomers to his work, I decided to get it. Some of his fans apparently believe that this novel is only average when compared to some of Banks’ earlier ones, and if that is indeed the case, I’m definitely going to have to start buying more Ian M. Banks novels.

Look to Windward takes place in Banks’ Culture universe, and is a tale of revenge that deals with the consequences of a superior culture interfering in the affairs of a lesser one. In this case it was The Culture, a highly advanced collection of humans and AI, interfering in the affairs of a race called the Chelgrians, to disastrous effect. Certain elements of the remaining Chelgrians want revenge, and their complex plan involves a famous Chelgrian expatriate composer, a Chelgrian soldier whose beloved wife has died, and the AI of Masaq’ Orbital, a Culture ringworld.

Frankly, Banks’ world building impressed me much more than the plot of this particular book, which at times seemed to wander off into dead ends that had little to do with the main thrust of the narrative. I did though find many of the characters interesting, and things were wrapped up with an unexpected twist. Overall it was a fine work, despite its flaws, and it’s certainly going to be enough to get me to give another of Banks’ earlier (or future) books a try.

One Response to “Look to Windward”

  1. Chris Says:

    My favorite quote from this book, which made me think of all you Amber people, referring to the AIs:

    “Oh, they never lie. They dissemble, evade, prevaricate, confound, confuse, distract, obscure, subtly misrepresent and willfully misunderstand with what often appears to be a positively gleeful relish and are generally perfectly capable of contriving to give one an utterly unambigous impression of their future course of action while in fact intending to do exactly the opposite, but they never lie. Perish the thought.”