Gray grabs hold of the Scottish Literary Tradition and with Science Fiction in the other hand he squashes them together. This works very well, surprisingly, and the novel still has a broad range of issues and emotions that you would expect from such a fine author. Sometimes, the novel is annoyingly clever.
It is set in a future where wars are tribal and are leagued and bound by rules, although still bloodthirsty and violent. A glance in the veterans club is proof of that. There is little hope for Wat Dryhope, the novel's anti-hero, as he tries his best to stop the senseless killing. No one listens to him and those that do misinterpretate him. Even the armless, legless, eyeless veterans oppose his peaceful stance.
But this book is more than just a diatribe about war. The Public Eye, which is everywhereTV, is nasty and cruel, and promotes bloodthirsty battles for their pulling power. However, declining audience numbers call for drastic measures, and they call for even more blood, for even bloodthirstier battles than the one Wat was the unwitting hero of. All in the name of family entertainment. On Wat's peace mission he meets his father, sleeps with his sister and falls foul of a sinister bitter plot to cause global disaster and give birth to a televised dark age.
In this novel limbs are chopped off and people make love. Televised wars meet the Ettrick shephard, an unlikely combination it is true. Gray is a great writer and like his many other books this is very good.