It begins in the realm of the Real, where matter still matters. And it begins with a murder.
Lededje Y'breq is one of the Intagliated, her marked body bearing witness to a family shame, her life belonging to a man whose lust for power is without limit. Prepared to risk everything for her freedom, her release, when it comes, is at a price, and to put things right, she will need the help of the Culture.
Benevolent, enlightened and almost infinitely resourceful though it may be, the Culture can only do so much for any individual. With the assistance of one of its most powerful - and arguably deranged - warships, Lededje finds herself heading into a combat zone not even sure which side the Culture is really on. A war - brutal, far-reaching - is already raging within the digital realms that store the souls of the dead, and it's about to erupt into reality.
©2010 Iain M. Banks (P)2010 Hachette Audio
"Banks's labyrinthine and devious ninth Culture space opera novel adeptly shifts perspective between vast concepts and individual passions....New readers may be taken aback by the rapid pace, but fans will dive right in and won't come up for air until the final page." (Publishers Weekly)
Iain Banks gives us a culture novel with several merging story lines. Its a satisfying romp through the culture universe. Peter Kenny is an amazing voice actor, maybe my new favorite.
An excellent dramatization by Peter Kenny! Such voices and inflection. An excellent story with plenty of "stuck in the driveway still listening to a chapter end" moments.
Like a collection of short stories with different characters that do not overlap, the culmination of the plot brings all characters together in a meaningful way that is enhanced by the disparate nature of their origins and motivations. Ian Bank's brilliance, though shines in his presenting the expected showdown events with turns and points unexpected. Throw in complete surprise elements and you have a riveting story that ends with a bang.
the difference in voices, accents, speed and delivery intonations as different between characters, that's what I love about Peter Kenny's craft.
I struggled to find a good order to read Ian Banks books, having stumbled upon "Use of Weapons" in a list of "best surprise endings with a twist" sci-fi stories ever. They were right, it is an amazingly excellent surprise twist that you have to make sure doesn't get spoiled for you.
That book, Use of Weapons is a great introduction to the Culture novels as it outlines many of the structures and ideas of the Culture. So I would definitely recommend it as a first book to read. This one, "Surface Detail" is another of course, and here is how I would recommend anyone read their first few...
1. Use of Weapons - Introduction to the Culture
2. The Player of Games - Story set in Culture environment
3. Surface Detail - Story that furthers Culture views, values and SC workings
I'm off now to pick my next Culture novel to dive into.
Iain M. Banks is honestly a God among authors, his stories have such complex, logical yet completely out of this world concepts that set him apart from other SciFi authors, these are as much accurate predictions of the distant future as they are fiction.
The uninitiated reader might not find this story quite as compelling due to some reliance on foreknowledge of the Culture and it's ways. But I believe this to be the best Culture book yet. The characters are developed extremely well and the plot is delightful (if not a little twisted). While lacking some of the moral ambiguity typical of Culture series books, this story still manages to captivate the reader on several levels. Political intrigue, murder, and the search for meaning in life are rampant. It feels to me that the author has shown some literary maturity with this outing, as previous stories felt somewhat unfinished or hastily wrapped up. This story, on the other hand, has more of a completeness and soundness. Despite being somewhat convoluted (as all Culture books are), the story coalesced and resolved more succinctly than any that came before. I look forward to reading the next book in the series, as I hope to see further development of story and Culture lore. .
As always, a very good listen with fairly mindboggling changes in storytelling perspective. Somewhat demanding and compex. If you let your attention drop for a while the narrative could litteraly have you transported to an entirely new part of the universe or even another dimension altogether! But to me this is what Iain Banks is all about.
Peter Kennedy is absolutely fantastic. His ability to make up new phrasings, dialects and voicings for the sometimes very disparate character gallery is second to none. His personification of Culture drones, minds and other wierd aliens sometimes make me laugh out loud (not always part of the social contract when commuting to work)...
A solid listen for Culture fans!
Really a huge fan of the series and loved this one as well.. Full of humor and action, this is immensely enjoyable.
Excellent characters, interesting setting. The culture minds/AI have such ridiculous but entertaining personalities which I always looked forward to hearing from again. the book explores digital afterlife possibilities and how they might go horribly wrong.
Witty, complex, excellent.
In sheer worldbuilding and breadth and depth of characters and plot, I'd say it's up there with a lot of epic fantasy, like Wheel of Time, and other sweeping books like Follett's Pillars of the Earth. In its wit, it's got a very Hitchhiker's Guide quality to it. Loved it!
Banks is not an American author, and the voice in my head is American. His narration - especially the myriad of different voices and accents he brought, combined with his ability to truly capture the dry humor in this book, had me laugh out loud in several completely unexpected places that I think I might have missed but for his interpretations.
I can't say enough about the narration, I'm considering additional books from this series simply because he was so fantastic!
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