Iain Banks
Walking on Glass (1985)
Reviewed: 1999-05-31

Graham Park is a young chap in art school. He is in love with Sara ffitch (sic), a mysterious woman he knows very little about, as he would have to admit. What pains him most is that he can't be certain about her feelings for him. But now she has invited him...

Steven Grout is thoroughly paranoid. He knows that he once was a warrior in the ultimate war, but he was betrayed and banished to this life. Constantly on the outlook for his Tormentors and their instruments of torture, he keeps searching for the Key to unlock the Way Out of this world.

Quiss and Ajayi were once in the Therapeutic Wars. They failed their duties and as punishment were sent to the castle. Now they must play bizarre games for chances to propose a solution to an old paradoxon. Only a correct answer will allow them to return.

Banks is fond of elaborately structuring his novels. Walking on Glass consists of three interlinked, seemingly unrelated story lines that meet in the end. The scenes with Graham and Sara are sweet, Banks should take up writing romance novels. As usual, he also relishes the absurd. Steven's predicaments are quite funny, and the world of the castle is stark surreal, with moments of utter hilarity.

Unfortunately, taking a view in favor of Banks, I didn't understand the book. The final resolutions are contrived, trite, and incomplete. Unsatisfying. It also doesn't make much sense. There are probably loads of symbolism that were simply lost on me. Be warned.

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