Iain Banks’ whirlwind narrative transcends time and space as rogue agents trying to escape an all-powerful organisation jump through parallel universes to survive.

It takes around four chapters to get into an average Banks book (whether science fiction or normal fiction) and this is no exception. In fact, the narrative is so ambitious that it takes the reading equivalent of marinating for a few chapters to be able to get the gist of what’s going on. For anyone who has ever pondered the question of ‘if you could go back in time and kill Hitler as a child, would you?’, this book will provide a titillating answer.

The story involves an assassin (Temudjin Oh) who has rebelled against the powers of The Concern and is jumping from body to body, world to world, killing the people whose names are on his list and saving others. By doing this, the organisation avoids catastrophe and saves future brilliant minds from being lost. But Oh quickly suspects that other minds are at play, as the grapple between intervention and world domination take a turn for the latter.

Surprisingly, many of the reviews from other readers that I have spotted online since reading it have been mixed. I loved the book (minus the foot-wank – you’ll know what I’m talking about if you’ve read it) and had no idea that it was such a marmite read.

Creative commons image courtesy of Robert Couse-Baker