The Scavenger species are circling. It is, truly, the End Days for the Gzilt civilization. An ancient people, organized on military principles and yet almost perversely peaceful, the Gzilt helped set up the Culture 10,000 years earlier and were very nearly one of its founding societies, deciding not to join only at the last moment. Now they've made the collective decision to follow the well-trodden path of millions of other civilizations: They are going to Sublime, elevating themselves to a new and almost infinitely more rich and complex existence.
Amid preparations though, the Regimental High Command is destroyed. Lieutenant Commander (reserve) Vyr Cossont appears to have been involved, and she is now wanted - dead, not alive. Aided only by an ancient, reconditioned android and a suspicious Culture avatar, Cossont must complete her last mission given to her by the High Command. She must find the oldest person in the Culture, a man over 9,000 years old, who might have some idea what really happened all that time ago. It seems that the final days of the Gzilt civilization are likely to prove its most perilous.
©2012 Iain M. Banks (P)2012 Hachette Digital
"Nobody does it better." (Sunday Times)
"The standard by which the rest of SF is judged." (Guardian)
"Essential for SF fans." (Library Journal)
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"Another great book by Banks"
I had read the book on release and really enjoyed it. It's not as complex as some of his other books, but still delivers the usual twists and turns in great Banks style. As a big fan of his previous audio books, I couldn't resist buying the audio book version. Peter Kenny does his usual fantastic job and makes this book a true joy to listen to. I don't think I've ever heard a voice artist give so much to a book. His range of character voices make following the story so much easier and you find yourself rising and falling with the emotion of the book that Peter delivers perfectly.
Buy this audio book..... then buy the rest. You wont regret it!
"More mind stuff"
I love culture minds and this book gives a broader view of them and shows that they're not all the same. After reading the summary I was looking forward to see how the culture would behave with another level 8 civ. I wasn't disappointed. There is the usual mesh of threads and some organically we get to care about (including a cute pet!). There are never enough "fights" for me but the ones here are up to the usual standard. If you read the book you'd know when you're getting near the end; with an audio book it can "end" quite precipitously - in this one the author does tie things up quite suddenly. If you enjoyed surface detail you'll love this one. If you've never read a culture book, I envy you. You're in for a real treat. BTW peter Kerry (reader) is brilliant using just enough "voices" to make it enjoyable without going into the eccentric. I just wish Audible would fill the Culture gaps (books 4-7?)
"A great last book from an extremely fine writer"
A fantastic, interstellar Culture novel. Written with humour, confidence and gracefulness. The book introduces a great cast of characters- especially ships- all brought to life by an amazing voice talent.
It is unavoidable while listening to the planned sublimation of a civilisation within the book, to think about Ian M.Banks knowledge of his own impending sublimation. There are moments of introversion in the story, where it almost stops in reflection. But it always returns to the main story, which i really enjoyed.
I found the end emotionally perfect.
I thought that listening to a book I've read would make me impatient. Not a bit of it. Kenny's delivery is excellent, and the luxury of absorbing the story at this pace was palpable.
The Minds are always the best bit with Banks. Their world weariness (universe weariness) always leads to the intruiging question - why do they need all the wetware. Entertainment I suppose, and this book is very entertaining. Loads of fun, especialluy the barking mad pre Subliming party.
Yes - a perfect book for a long car journey across Europe. But tghe journey didn't take long enough.
This book does two things - it highlightds Banks's imense talent for narratives about immensity and the reassuringly fickle nature of sentience; and it is a stark reminder of a a talent that has left us
"A return to form"
Banks can be a bit hit and miss, sometimes is all gels and the adventure whips along and you're caught up in the characters and the narrative and the whole rollecking narrative. Other times he gets bogged down with tedious descriptions and blind flights of fantasy. A good story would fight to get out.
With Hydrogen Sonata, he hit got it almost perfect again and for me is the last book he should have written.
The Last party, Banks back on top form with CGI effects turned all the way up to 11
The end is ... almost melancholy. No one is really punished for past indiscretion and events unfold regardless. Thats not to say its disappointing, its more though provoking and questions just what is truth and who really needs to know it.
"One up 'bot' ship"
I would recommend this book to anyone who enjoys pure science fiction, and those sorts of films that get boys/men excited, a few good men, top gun, Django etc etc
I really enjoyed the final combat scene, where the culture ship is so blasé, and confident that it will win and escape. Normally the opposition are relatively low tech, but in the final fight sequence its just that more exciting with high tech vs high tech.
"A well paced addition to the Culture"
A well paced addition to the Culture entertainingly read by Peter Kenny
Though I've been a long time reader of Iain Bank's work, this was my first foray into audiobooks. Overall this was a great place to start. It is a fine instalment of the Culture series (which has been a little uneven recently) and it kept me absorbed on my commute through London.
"Another great culture novel"
I really enjoyed the novel. It is strange how over the Culture series that the interesting characters have moved from human to ships' Minds. The underlying plat was less strong than that of other novels but it was very enjoyable all the same. I found the number of Minds in the end confusing and lost who was whom but much of that could be down to my own decaying organic mind.
Peter Kenny is a great narrator and I love the character he brings to the variety of voices in the book. A great choice and one I hope to listen to on other books in the near future.
I am writing this after the news of Iain Banks cancer which means that this is likely to be the last authentic Banks Culture novel, a statement that fills me with sadness. The Culture is one of the few cases where someone has imagined a positive future for we humans. It will be a pity to see it end. Sad news indeed.
"Keep him locked in that room"
Fantastic Banks, with the usual Kenny enhancement. Please keep Peter locked in that damp cell chained to the wall until he has narrated the whole collection of Banks books. And while you're about it chain Iain in there too until he has produced at least another dozen.
They are both geniuses.
"From the GSV 'Close But No Cigar'"
Having listened to all of the Ian M Banks Culture series on Audible and enjoying every one of them I feel that this is one of the least enjoyable I've listened to.
The story of a society about to Sublime takes a background place to that of the Culture ships and the minds. I was less interested in the lives of the characters here than I have been in other of Banks books.
This is not to distract from the fact that Peter Kenny as narrator does his usual excellent job of making listening to the book throughly enjoyable. It's just that I would recommend other Culture novels ahead of this one.
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