Author: Iain M. Banks, 2008
Genre: Science Fiction. Political Thriller.
Other Details: ebook. 620 pages.
In a world renowned within a galaxy full of wonders, a crime within a war. For one brother it means a desperate flight, and a search for the one - maybe two - people who could clear his name. For his brother it means a life lived under constant threat of treachery and murder. And for their sister, it means returning to a place she'd thought abandoned forever.
Only the sister is not what she once was; Djan Seriy Anaplian has become an agent of the Culture's Special Circumstances section, charged with high-level interference in civilisations throughout the greater galaxy. Concealing her new identity - and her particular set of abilities - might be a dangerous strategy. In the world to which Anaplian returns, nothing is quite as it seems; and determining the appropriate level of interference in someone else’s war is never a simple matter. - synopsis from author's website.
While not my first experience of Ian Banks' writing, this was my first experience of his science fiction. It was a reading group selection, which was why it was read out of order as the member who suggested it felt it was a good introduction to the Culture series.
I was so impressed by the detail of Banks' creation. It took a while to get into the novel due to coming into the series so late though there was enough exposition a few chapters in to provide an overview of the galaxy and its inhabitants. As Banks predicted in an article I read I did find myself consulting the glossary often.
I found I was quickly drawn into the story and while an intelligent and intellectual work there was also a depth of characterisation that made it easy to relate to them amongst the technology. There is also a degree of humour and satire to cut through the hard science fiction. It was a very dramatic work with the viewpoint shifting between the three siblings
Not all members of our group read the novel as a couple are unwilling to read any science fiction. However, it was well received by those that did read it and we all felt that Banks' imagination was stunning. After this positive experience I plan to read the series.