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Inversions Hardcover – February 1, 2000


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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 352 pages
  • Publisher: Atria (February 1, 2000)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0671036688
  • ISBN-13: 978-0671036683
  • Product Dimensions: 9.5 x 6.3 x 1.4 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.2 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (65 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #164,501 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

First published in the U.K. in 1998, Banks's latest novel steps back from the usual grand scale and ultra high-tech of his well-known "Culture" SF series (Excession, etc.) to the intrigue-ridden courts of a politically fragmented world. In Haspidus, a woman named Vosill, a foreigner from the distant archipelago nation of Drezen, serves as personal physician to King Quience, in spite of social mores that treat women as little more than property. Vosill's servant--actually a spy reporting to one of Quience's trusted right-hand men--finds himself doubting his master's claims that Vosill is a danger to the king, even as he uncovers evidence that suggests that Vosill is much more than she seems. Meanwhile, across the mountains, the stern warrior DeWar serves as chief bodyguard to General UrLeyn, the Prime Protector of the Tassasen Protectorate. His close contact with UrLeyn earns him the distrust of UrLeyn's fellow generals; those loyal to UrLeyn fear DeWar himself could be the perfect spy and assassin, while others worry he will discover their own secret plots. As conspiracies unfold and loyalties shift dangerously in both lands, the story of Vosill and DeWar and their unspoken connection unfolds with masterful subtlety. Banks's new novel should further expand his reputation for creating challenging, intelligent stories full of notable characters trapped in complex situations that have no easy solutions. (Feb.)
Copyright 2000 Reed Business Information, Inc.

From Library Journal

A doctor's devotion to her king and to her profession embroil her in a web of court intrigue and murder as she strives to preserve the health and well-being of the king she has come to love. On the other side of the world, a general's bodyguard risks his life to protect his master. Interweaving a pair of separate but linked tales of devotion and treachery set on a technologically backward world, Banks (The Player of Games) demonstrates his considerable talent for subtle storytelling. Recommended for most sf collections.
Copyright 2000 Reed Business Information, Inc.

More About the Author

Iain Banks came to widespread and controversial public notice with the publication of his first novel, The Wasp Factory, in 1984. Consider Phlebas, his first science fiction novel, was published under the name Iain M. Banks in 1987. He is now acclaimed as one of the most powerful, innovative, and exciting writers of his generation. Iain Banks lives in Fife, Scotland. Find out more about him at www.iainbanks.net.

Customer Reviews

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

56 of 58 people found the following review helpful By P. Mizukami on June 24, 2000
Format: Hardcover
_Inversions_ is actually not one, but two books.
I'm not saying that because it goes back and forth from two different narratives that mirror each other. I'm saying that because it is, really, two different books.
If you've read the Culture novels (_Consider Phlebas_, _The Player of Games_, _Use of Weapons_), you'll understand things differently than if you haven't.
If you've read the Culture novels, it will be pure science-fiction. If you haven't, it will be pure medieval fantasy. Anyway, it will be a very enjoyable read.
That's Iain M. Banks for you.
People argue whether this is a Culture novel or not. Simply put, it is. And no, that's not a spoiler. It's a very obvious Culture novel -- only without the space opera pyrotechnics.
If you are new to Iain M. Banks, this is as good a place to start as any. If you have access to the other Culture novels, though, I'd suggest starting with them. Any will do. But do read them, Banks is a genius.
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31 of 31 people found the following review helpful By James D. DeWitt VINE VOICE on August 13, 2001
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Okay, it's not Banks' best book, although it might be his best writing, and it's not his best plot, although it might be his trickiest. But either way, this is a fine addition to the literature of The Culture.
If you have read as far as this, you already know that there is something called "The Culture," and that is it a fantasically developed, ultra-powerful, galaxy wide entity which, in the name of Good, meddles in the affairs of other, more primitive societies, through its "Special Circumstances" arm. There are, shall we say, signs that "Special Circumstances" is at work on the multiply-sunned, multiply-mooned world on which this story takes place.
And this is a Culture novel, make no mistake, but this time we see Special Circumstances from the other side, most poignantly from the eyes of Oelph, the apprentice to and spy upon the co-protagonist, Dr. Vossil. Dr. Vossil is a woman and a foreigner in what is a deeply misogynistic, seriously provincial society. Through her surprising talents as a healer, she has become the personal physician to a king. Her co-protagonist is DeWar, the personal bodyguard to a regicide and usurper in another kingdom. Both "kingdoms" are fragments of a larger, even sicker culture that was destroyed not long before the events of this story when rocks fells from the sky. Hmm...
The stories of DeWar and Dr. Vossil are intertwined, but this is a Banks novel and you have to read carefuly to understand exactly how and why. The "Inversions" of the title are present at many levels, just as the story operates at many levels. Admire, if you will, the way the drawing of the dagger inverts at the start of each chapter.
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33 of 36 people found the following review helpful By Jules Mazarin on March 15, 2000
Format: Hardcover
This is a subtler work than Banks' earlier "Culture" novels, and may be his best one yet. Regrettably, the very subtlety and understatement that makes this such a good book may narrow its appeal. You have to think about this book. For instance, one of the reviewers (Booklist) clearly either didn't read, or failed to understand what he was reading. Whatever Dr. Vossil and DeWar's relationship may have been, they were most assuredly not "cooperating".
For the benefit of those who haven't read the book, I don't want to give away too much. However, one of the questions that's been kicked around on the Iain Banks newsgroup is which of the two is the starry-eyed idealist, and which is a hard-eyed pragmatist.
My view? --If special circumstances demand that it absolutely, positively has to be destroyed overnight, if you send in Madame Doctor.
No, this is not just a "medieval fantasy". It's a thought-provoking book about what it means to "do good", and how little latitude you have to help people in a cruel world. If it matters to you, this IS science fiction, and it IS a "Culture" book.
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13 of 13 people found the following review helpful By Michael Battaglia on November 8, 2005
Format: Mass Market Paperback
I think when it comes down to it, we say that we like when authors don't spell everything out and leave gaps for the reader to puzzle out, but in the end we're lazy and would prefer that someone just tell us what's going on. Iain Banks, of course, doesn't care what we want, so he goes and tells us a story that appears to be about one thing and is really about something else, except it's hard to tell because the story is being told by narrators who aren't in on the whole thing. Or if they are, they're lying about it. This time out, Banks is telling two stories here set on the same world. One involves Vossil, a doctor from a foreign land who is assigned to be the king's personal physician, and the other features DeWar, who is the personal bodyguard to a man who would rule a slice of land. The two stories alternate and barely connect, and the main characters never meet (at least in the context of the tale) but as you read it's clear that there are connections present that just aren't obvious. The doctor's story is narrated by her assistant, a person who is himself lying to her in that he's really a spy for one of the king's men. DeWar's story is more a third-person narration, but there's more going on than it seems. More than anything else, this book seems at first glance to be the most conventional of all his books, even the ones that he writes as the M-less Iain Banks. The wacky antics of the Culture and the wild flights of dark imagination that are the hallmarks of his SF writing don't really seem to be present here, replaced with a more fantasy based plot, with people in castles and horses and whatnot plotting to kill each other without making it seem like they are.Read more ›
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