This is the first non-SciFi novel by Iain Banks that I’ve read and I found it totally engaging. It’s the story of Isis Whit, the Elect of God in a small and highly quirky religious cult in Stirlingshire. Over the course of the novel her privileged position and life within the community begins to disintegrate leaving her questioning both her faith and her community. As with all previous Iain Banks novels that I’ve read it is a great read and I found myself drawn into this imagined world which despite its bizarre nature has the ring of authenticity to it.
Clearly for me as a Christian minister not only was this a fascinating story, but a critique of faith and religious communities asking questions of the effect of human corruptness and self-centeredness, deliberate or unintentional, upon them. How much of what we do and hold dear is of human original? Banks doesn’t totally dismiss faith or the spiritual life and amongst all the politicking and strife remains the hint of Isis’ Gift, a mystery which he deliberately leaves unanswered, was it real or delusion?