• by Iain Banks
  • Narrated by Peter Kenny
  • 13 hrs and 37 mins
  • Unabridged Audiobook

Publisher's Summary

A world that hangs suspended between triumph and catastrophe, between the dismantling of the Wall and the fall of the Twin Towers, frozen in the shadow of suicide terrorism and global financial collapse, such a world requires a firm hand and a guiding light. But does it need the Concern: an all-powerful organisation with a malevolent presiding genius, pervasive influence and numberless invisible operatives in possession of extraordinary powers?On the Concern's books are Temudjin Oh, an un-killable assassin who journeys between the peaks of Nepal, a version of Victorian London and the dark palaces of Venice; and a nameless, faceless torturer known only as the Philosopher. And then there's the renegade Mrs Mulverhill, who recruits rebels to her side; and Patient 8262, hiding out from a dirty past in a forgotten hospital ward.As these vivid, strange and sensuous worlds circle and collide, the implications of turning traitor to the Concern become horribly apparent, and an unstable universe is set on a dizzying course.


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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful

Oh boy

I haven't finsihed this yet but I'm really enjoying it. I think it's the best by him I have read/heard for some time. In addition the reading is lively and characterful, well suiting the tone of the book.

The premise - revealed pretty early on so I don't think this is a spoiler - is a bunch of people leaping from body to body in Quantum Leap style, but rather than back and forth within history, between an infinitude of parallel Earths. Banks has an unusually powerful imagination, and he's used it to render each world with depth of detail in a quick vignette, rather than to produce a shallow cavalcade of implausible exotica. The writing too is controlled and either lyrical or cynical as it needs to be.
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- Alison Page

Does this help?

Hmm I too was confused by this book. I then read some of the culture series.

Now imagine what it would be like if Special Circumstances felt they needed to intervene on a more or less contemporary earth.
They obviously would not be in the business of explaining themselves to anyone, least of all you!

It does work without that back story but it is much more fun with it in mind; so I would strongly recommend you try one or more of the Culture series,then see if you don't think Mrs Mulverhill has SC written all over her!
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- Andy

Book Details

  • Release Date: 03-09-2009
  • Publisher: Hachette Audio UK