Book Review: Against a Dark Background

Against a Dark BackgroundTitle: Against a Dark Background

Author: Ian M.Banks

Genre: Sci-fi

Published: 1993

Review Copy: Purchased Paperback

Overall Rating: 3 out of 5

Synopses; Taken from GoodReads

She came from one of the more disreputable aristocratic families.

Sharrow was once the leader of a personality-attuned combat team in one of the sporadic little commercial wars in the civilization based around the planet Golter. On an island with a glass shore – relic of some even more ancient conflict – she discovers she is to be hunted by the Huhsz, a religious cult which believes she is the last obstacle before their faith’s apotheosis. She has to run, knowing her only hope of finally escaping the Huhsz is to find the last of the ancient, apocalyptically powerful but seemingly cursed Lazy Guns. But that is just the first as well as the final step on a search that takes her on an odyssey through the exotic Golterian system and results in both a trail of destruction and a journey into her own past, as well as that of her family and the system itself; a journey that changes everything.

The book is based around a make believe universe but the characters and story only explore the Golterian system. The system has a wealth of history and a complexity that brings ancient and future weapons into use with civil wars that have destroyed and shaped the planets of the system to what they are today.

Sharrow, our main character, comes from a disreputable aristocratic family but has seen most of her families wealth lost due to her grandfather’s actions that has placed her on a death list. Sharrow has to search the location of the Universal Principles, a book that has been missing for centuries and with the help from her remaining members of her squad they set out to look for the missing book so they can find the last remaining lazy gun. But they are met at each and every turn by religious cults, hired mercenaries and her families past and a jealous cousin.

The book itself is very enjoyable and has a great scientific theme behind it and also has a dark nature throughout. The character’s where really well built and continued to grow as the story unfolded. Our main character Sharrow already had a dark past what with her mother being assassinated beside her when she was little but it also seems that she suffered during the last civil war. The loss of her fallen war friends and future losses of her crew plays a big part on her emotional state throughout the book.

I really liked how Ian M Banks wrote a deep and dark history into this novel and throughout the book he used ancient and future weapons for most of his battles.

I got the feeling that the universe was a fragile as Shorrow and that the last civil war that had broken out by the end of the novel could be its last. What I didn’t like about the novel was how the ending was left. We don’t get to read the Last Lazy Gun being used other than it destroying the keep and we don’t get enough information on the war that is happening outside. We are left with a happy ever after feeling with Shorrow riding off into the sunset and that’s it. Finished and I was left feeling what happens next? What is happening outside with the world; who is fight who?

I give this book 3 out of 5 but I do recommend that you give it a read.

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