by Banks, Iain
This brutal tale starts in a bleak, brutal European any-war. Abel and Morgan live in a forboding castle, alone and isolated, until the conflict intrudes on their numb lives in the form of a cruel mercenary lieutenant and her violent, ravaging men who take up residence. From there, the tale disintegrates into darkness and atrocity, punctuated by Abel's memories of earlier joy and pain. Iain Banks pushes the story steadily downward, dragging the morbidly fascinated reader into the depths of human despair. Gang rape, torture, and incest are seen through Abel's uncaring eyes--this book is not for the squeamish. And although Banks strives for a Passion play in the end, what's missing is even the tiniest kernel of real redemption. Fans of The Wasp Factory and Banks's other non-science fiction works will find familiar details here, but A Song of Stone stands alone as a fable of hopelessness. --Therese Littleton
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