This is a non-linier story. Some of you will like this fact and some will hate it.
Each branch of the story is usually entertaining on its own. We get to know main character and are puzzled by his story. The history slowly unfolds while being mixed up with other time line. Admittedly it is a bit confusing.
I have found that when I was at about 70% of the book I have stopped caring of the main character and anything else in the book. I was just curious to see how it all ends.
There is really no character development or struggle. In the end the only thing that kept me going was a mystery of the character.
I would not call the book a waste of time because more than once it made me to think about bigger questions in life. None of these questions are posted directly, but the story of the character make one to think about it.
The ending is a lot of fun as it makes one to look at events throughout the book from another angle. It is likely to generate a lot of mixed emotions.
What am I to make of this book? I'm truly not sure what I should think. I halfway expected the twist at the end and yet there appeared to be no resolution. Perhaps if I read over it again (it is told in disjointed fragments not necessarily in chronological order), I might be able to put the pieces together. But for now, it is a rather confusing book.
Iain Banks is really a great writer. Like much of his other work, Use of Weapons is exciting and violent, intense and philosophical. It is the story of a man called Zakalwe, a mercenary agent for the benevolent managers of interstellar civilization, The Culture. Sent to various primitive planets to interfere with politics or lead armies, he seems to believe he is always acting for the good - but he also obviously has some deep trauma in his past. In alternating segments, we see the present and the past, learning more about the history of Zakalwe and the agent who recruited him, the woman Diziet Sma. The way the events are revealed is well-done, the effect powerful, shocking - and thought-provoking. Highly recommended. (Extra points for a great beheading scene!)