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Publisher's Summary

In a world renowned even within a galaxy full of wonders, a crime within a war. For one man 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, even without knowing the full truth, it means returning to a place she'd thought abandoned forever.

Only the sister is not what she once was; Djan Seriy Anaplian has changed almost beyond recognition to become an agent of the Culture's Special Circumstances section, charged with high-level interference in civilizations throughout the greater galaxy.

Concealing her new identity - and her particular set of abilities - might be a dangerous strategy, however. 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.

Matter is a novel of dazzling wit and serious purpose. An extraordinary feat of storytelling and breathtaking invention on a grand scale, it is a tour de force from a writer who has turned science fiction on its head.

©2008 Iain M. Banks (P)2014 Hachette Audio

What members say

Average Customer Ratings

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What happened to Peter Kenny?

Any additional comments?

I have loved this series, and the narration has been no small part. While this narration is decent, it was made worse in the inevitable comparison to the previous narrator, Peter Kenny, who was excellent. <br/><br/>As for the book, of course Banks is wonderful. A bit overdone at the end, but clever throughout.

6 of 6 people found this review helpful

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  • RichM
  • Boulder, CO
  • 02-15-15

A rambling tale of a monarchy

This is by far my least favorite culture series book yet. The heavy medieval storyline did nothing for me. I made it all the way through, but the payoff wasn't worth the cost of the lost time listening to it. Certainly interesting parts, but for the most part I found it boring.

2 of 2 people found this review helpful

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A stellar performance

What did you love best about Matter?

This is a great book, though not one of the best in the Culture series (The Use of Weapons and the Player of Games will always loom large over the series as some of the best SF of all time). But Longworth's performance really elevates the book and he does a stellar job of giving different speech patterns to the different characters and making them come alive. Highly recommended.

2 of 2 people found this review helpful

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Love Iain M. Banks

Would you recommend this audiobook to a friend? If so, why?

Love Iain M. Banks writing. But the narrator is highly annoying. I will finish this book on my kindle.

What didn’t you like about Toby Longworth’s performance?

Horrible, annoying voices of characters.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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Great book!

Really liked the book, it's a very interesting story. My only real complaint is that Peter did not read it. The guy that did, did a good job... but it's not the same.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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Flawless

I cannot recommend this highly enough. I thoroughly enjoyed reading the book a few years ago, but the narrator brought another dimension to the story that blew me away.

In my humble opinion Iain M Banks is a master of this genre, rivalled only by Alastair Reynolds. This story is beautifully written and totally absorbing from the beginning. The characters are wonderfully realised, the story lines fast paced and believable with an underlying humour that I found delightful.

As is often the case when I read Banks, I found myself marvelling at his insights and observations. He is a formidably intelligent man.

Toby Longworth is a brilliant narrator and this story suits his talents to a tee. It takes real talent to bring characters to life as he did in this book.

Loved it and will listen to it again for sure.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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love it

Fantastic story. I love the Culture series because it posits an optimistic view of humanity's long-term future. what if we could someday actually grow up? what if our cultural evolution eventually led us into a genuine common commitment to the greater good? what, in that case, would an old fashioned cruel and cutthroat society (such as our own) look like from that mature and compassionate perspective? Banks ponders such questions in the most compelling way!
in addition to a captivating story rich with intrigue and complexity and excitement, this audiobook is a truly marvelous performance.

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Matter or Black Adder Rides Again!

This book meets my unusually high expectations for Banks' work. A delightful story with a talented narrator.

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A fun lower tech foray into the culture universe

Albeit linear, Matter tells a fairly interesting story of a industrial era society growing up under the mantle of their galactic superiors. It has all of the requirements for an enjoyable culture novel including sarcastic drones and ship Minds, intelligent and respectable adversaries, typical Banks anarcho(nihilist)communist philosophizing, an entertaining and unpredictable plot, and fantastical sci-fi constructs. Occasionally the physical descriptions are more verbose than necessary, but overall this is a very fun adventure in an untypical culture setting with characters that I find more enjoyable and developed than usual for the series. On top of this, Toby Longworth does a stellar, five out of five reading performance that really seals the deal.

While not the best single novel from the series, Culture fans will not regret picking this one up.

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Excellent but less than perfect Culture story

As expected, in Matter Banks, gives us a lot of strange aliens and amazing weaponry, but in this story the Cultue takes a bit of a backseat to a quasi-medival upstart of a people, without much of a wit about them and taking themselves too seriously. it's not often that I wish for the "heroes" to be killed off, but this is one of them. They do reedeem themselves at the end, though, when that is the only option left.
While the perfromance is generally fine, it sometimes become a bit to theatrical in its attemot to instantiate very different voices - and especially with aliens, who already have baroque turns of language, it sometimes becomes very difficult to follow.
Still, a story well worth listening to if you are a Culture admirer; for others, Consider Phlebas or Excession might be a better start.