This is the third of Iain Banks Culture novel series. True to it’s title Use of Weapons explores how just about anything can be a weapon, a look, a kiss, a chair, a gun, a missile. In one direction (moving forward) the novel follows the attempt of Dismet Sma to bring back into service Cheradinine Zakalwe, a military commander who the Culture have maintained for over two hundred years, calling on him when they need to impact a battle or war. In another direction (moving backwards) the novel explores events in Cheradinine’s life back to the first war he was involved in. The two timelines come together at the end with devastating effect. Like all of the Culture Novels it’s stand alone and while it helps to have read other novels in the series if you simply extend earth empires of the past into space for the most part it’s easy to understand the universe.