System and software engineer from the UK now living and working in Silicon Valley.
I enjoyed this, the reading was done well, much better than most.
The story was 98% setup then SHAZAM and it's all over. Bringing in a super powerful magic character to sort everything out is like using the get out of jail free card in Monopoly or having Scotty beam you up.
At the end the pressing questions were not answered. There was no ending.
Unfortunately Iain Banks died of cancer and took the answers with him. A very sad day for all of us. FWIW I love most of his books, but this one not quite so much.
I agree with Kurt; Iain Banks has been a long time favorite of mine, and i wish to see more of his books, although personally i want to listen to The Alchemist. I have heard that it was his best book.
Not only was the book boring, its fixation on toture was very off-putting. I give two stars because, like book 1 of the Splatterjay series, there is a story somewhere in there amongst the shock and gore.
I'm a huge fan of Banks' Culture novels, but this book didn't quite rise to the same level. His gratuitous descriptions of sex acts tended to distract and detract from an otherwise thoughtful story. Several times.
WIth regard to the performance, the narrator did a good job voicing the different characters, but one or two of the English accents were occasionally too thick to comprehend.
Overall, I would still recommend Banks as an author, just not this particular work.
Banks defines the "New Space Opera". Go get some "Culture" (that's what his longest series is called) or even better; The Algebraist. This trash-novel ended faster than i expected, and i was relieved.