Saturday, October 15, 2005

Books (Science Fiction): Use of Weapons [SPOILERS]

I've been wondering how to handle spoilers in these commentaries so that I can comment on plot points without giving them away to people who don't want to read them. I think I've struck on a solution: I'll post spoiler commments as comments to special spoiler posts like this one. So let's see how well this works.

1 comment:

James said...

So here are the spoilers!

By the end of Use of Weapons, we learn that Zakalwe was born into an aristocratic family on a semi-feudal planet. He had two sisters, Livueta and Darckense, and a foster-brother, Elthiomel.

Before being recruited by the Culture, Zakalwe and Elthiomel ended up on opposite sides in a civil war, which ended soon after Elthiomel does something horrible to Darckense (who had been a hostage) which gives Zakalwe his fear of chairs.

The last of this is established just before the last chapter, which takes place in the "present" -- Zakalwe's payment for this job for the Culture was to be taken to his sister Livueta, just as it had been for the previous job.

So this is where the twist ending comes in, and this is the weakest part of the book: Livueta reveals that the person who we -- and the Culture -- thought was Zakalwe was actually Elthiomel all along. The moment Livueta starts hinting that something's weird that way, you know that that's what the twist is going to end up being.

Unfortunately, it pretty much ends there -- there are two more paragraphs and a flashback Epilogue after Livueta's revelation, and that's it. There's no explanation of why Elthiomel took Zakalwe's place, or why the Culture wouldn't have realized that this was the case.

That was the thing that really bugged me about the book -- the twist had a real feeling of a twist for twisting's sake. Don't let that disuade you from reading it, though -- just be prepared.

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