“The Player of Games”:The Player of Games is the second Culture novel by Ian M. Banks. The novel writes from the perspective of members of The Culture, instead of from a faction warring against them.
This book reads more or less like The Glass Bead Game written as a shorter novel, with space travel/opera thrown in for kicks. The writing in this book was more engaging and the framing of the novel ever so slightly more clever. Banks seems to enjoy killing characters off, one way or another, which I like. Still, the core of the story was extremely predictable, everything was again heavily foreshadowed, and things progressed more or less linearly in one thread. Banks focused a lot of attention on the narrative of the protagonist, and I think it’s improved over the prior novel, but the supporting cast remains without texture or depth.
I find, like the first novel, that I enjoyed the read, despite these flaws. I’m beginning to think I enjoy the Culture novels because they really are about the Culture, and not about the individual story within. Banks is slowly telling a story about an interstellar race/society/culture through several anecdotal novels. Or at least that’s my theory at this stage. In the context of the Culture books, I think it’s an 8/10, as a standalone novel, it’s hovering in the 6-7 range.