I love Iain Banks as an author and as a human being (may he rest in peace) and it is only my usual dislike for science fiction (with a few feminist exceptions) that discouraged me from picking up this book earlier.
I should not be surprised that it's a book about weapons, war and masculine pursuits - it says so on the tin. It took me a while to become engaged with the story, but the narrative achieved an unexpected result - I cared about the barbaric soldier at its centre and I empathised with his feelings of guilt and regret.
The full extent of the chair and warship images doesn't become clear until near the end, and the time shifts frequently threw me so I had to work hard to keep abreast of the action. The payback was worth it and although I may not grab any more of Iain M Banks' sci-fi, I am glad I read this one.