It’s Banks science fiction, but not a culture novel…and that’s o.k. Against a Dark Background was the first Banks book I read outside of the culture series. Like all of Banks’ work Against a Dark Background features his tremendously vivid prose (particularly in his action sequences) and his consistently fun wit.
Against A Dark Background follows the Lady Sharrow, a noble from a family that has lost much, on a series of adventures as she tries to keep herself alive and find different old antiquities. The plot is interesting, and the universe is original, but really Against a Dark Background is a never-ending series of brilliant action sequences. I think it’d be hard not to read this book and be very entertained.
The story gets its depth more from Sharrow’s flashbacks to her childhood with her half sister and her time in the military than from any of the current interactions between the characters. This certainly was not my favorite Banks story, but none the less it was engaging throughout. If you enjoy Banks’ other work than you should definitely read this book.