Consider Phlebas - Iain M. Banks Consider Plhebas

My review of the book "Considering Phlebas by Iain M. Banks.


I see the "MIND" as a gadget, person or thing, like in many stories, that different groups or individuals are after and the "Path" is the actual story.

The Yins and Yangs, extreme vs extreme. Let me list the ways.

Order vs Chaos :
Order associated with Culture and Chaos associated with Iridian.

The "Strategist" - female vs male:
Fal Shilde Ngeestra - From the Culture, female, has an intelligent drone as a friend.
Querl Xoralundra - From the Iridains, male, has a not so intelligent Medjel as a slave.

The "Tacticians" - again female vs male:
Perosteck Balveda - From the Culture, female, well trained and cares about others.
Bora Horza Gobuuchal - From the Iridian, male, a changer that cares only for himself.

Females vs Males - ( Fal and Balveda ) vs ( Xoralundra and Horza)

{ After reading the chapter "State of play: one" and observing this setup in today's society, I knew the women would win the gadget called the MIND. }

{ oh how do I miss they good old days of "film Noir" when it was the single, childless, hot looking, vixen women that was always the evil one that committed the crimes :) }

From the chapter: Dramatist personae.

Both "Tacticians", Horza and Belveda had died. Horza by the hand of his allies the Iridians and Belveda committed self termination after the war. Belveda could not live with her past acts of violence.

Both "Strategist", Fal and Querl got promotions and lived long fulfilling lives after the war.

{ One odd thing that Fal had a sex change operation after the war. If Fal had superior intelligence equal to the minds. Does this mean that life is better as a male, implied from the book :) }


I felt the reason for all the violence is to show how evil the Iridan empire is.
How many ways to list the different forms of violence.

WAR - The Iridian empire started the war against the peaceful Culture Empire.
Murder - Horza murdered a person on the planet Sorpen, chapter 1: Sorpen.
Torture - Horza's punishment for murder drowning in a septic tank, chapter 1: Sorpen.
Slavery - The Medjel served under the Iridian, Chapter 2: the hand of God 137.
Cruelty - Querl kicking a Medjel when down for falling, instead of helping him up.
Mass Murder - Xoralundra nuking cities without concern - chapter 2, hand of God 137.
Fighting - Horza fighting for his life on the CAT ship, chapter 3: Clear Air Turbulence.
Rape - Captain saying "Culture women could not be raped", Iridian space they could?
Piracy, murder, stealing, theft - chapter 4: Temple of light.
Selfishness - I am taking you with me with the personal nuke, Chapter 5: Megaship
Cannibalism - need I say more, chapter 6, The Eaters.
Gladiatorial Fighting - the mind game called damage, Chapter 7: A game of damage.
Animal Cruelty - Animals fighting to death from ceiling, Chapter 7: A game of damage.
Recklessness - Harming innocent beings as flying through the GSV: Chapter 8
Murder - Chapters 10 through 12.
Vengeance - Horza's uncontrollable urge to kill the Iridain that killed his pregnant mate.
{ There is no honor among thieves }

{ a note that Belveda asked Horza to let go the Iridan that killed his mate to show that those living in the culture are not vengeful and forgiving }


The Culture :
"Imagine" there is no religion... and everyone living life in peace, John Lenon.

The Iridian :
Religion is the other major player in the Iridan empire along with all of the violence. Religion and Violence goes hand in hand in this book.

Chapter 2: The hand of God 132.
Even the WAR ships are named after God.

Chapter 4: Temple of Light.
{Easy in Easy out? Surprise! Priest carry guns! }
{ Sell what you have and buy a sword - Bible, Luke 22,36 }

Chapter 6: The Eaters.
{ The gods are everywhere in this chapter, give thanks to god for our human dinner. }

“The Idirans saw themselves as agents in this great reordering. They were the chosen—at first allowed the peace to understand what God desired" quote from Horza in chapter 6.

{ Predestination - I personally call this, Religion of Narcissism. God chosen me, kiss yourself, God loves me, kiss yourself, God chosen me... }

{ With this viewpoint, god has chosen you as an agent of God, therefore you are better than others that were not chosen and provides the excuse to harm others, if god has not chosen you, then you are a bad person. }


As I see it, this is a story where Violence and Religion goes hand in hand as seen through the eyes of a criminal named Horza. Take away religion and one will live in peace. And I agree with this "self perceived" viewpoint.

I give this book 4 out of 5 stars.

I will say Iain M. banks is an excellent writer. Lots and lots of patterns in this book that made it so easy to predict what coming next. The book was too highly structured with little surprises for my liking.

A good world and character builder for two stars. Writing was excellent for one star. The book and characters are memorable for the forth star. The story line was lack luster and could not give him that extra star.