The Business by Iain M. Banks
My rating: 4 of 5 stars
The more I read Iain Banks' work, the more I appreciate it. His way with words aside, it's the fact that no two books are exactly alike in tone or style, but they share a common quality that makes me go "yummm".
In The Business, Banks introduces us to Kathryn, a Level Three in The Business, but who knows from personal experience what the hard life actually is - she's from the "schemes" (Scots for "projects") and only by dint of natural cunning and adoption by Mrs. Telman does she get out. The Business is one of those shadowy, semi-secret, incredibly long-lived organizations, predating the Roman Empire and essentially running the world in whatever era it is. Kathryn's a computer/IT geek, but she's also intelligent and has caught the attention of several Level Twos and Level Ones because she's also caught the eye of the Prince of Thulahn. The Business, it appears Has Plans.
The other characters in the book are well-drawn, but definitely secondary to Kathryn (a trait that many of Banks' books share). The plotting and counter-plotting, the games and tricks are interesting, and while I guessed what the Big Plan was, it's never explicitly stated, even at the end. I also loved how Kathryn could go from mushy about her "pillow children" (especially Dulsung) to quite, well, frightening in her last encounter with Adrian.
Any of Banks' books makes for a great adult read.
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