I fell for the reviews on the back cover. I didn't notice they were from Daily Mail and Daily Telegraph or I might have saved myself a few dull afternoons chugging through this.
It's too long, the characters are childishly simplistic, not a lot of it makes sense, it resorts to hard sci-fi to try and drive the plot but fails monumentally (Greg Egan does it a whole lot better. Much, much better), and it is inhabited by some of the dumbest artificial intelligence personalities you can imagine.
On that point, imagine a scenario: giant dangerous (but unintelligent) beasties densely roaming an area. You are a large, dangerous artificial being equipped with no end of exotic made up technologies like force fields and various weapons that would entertain a teenager for weeks, and in addition you are overwhelmingly intelligent. You are trying to ensure the safety of a few people unlucky enough to be in the midst of it all. Said beasties cannot fly and they cannot burrow. You can move as fast or faster than them. You have endless tricks. You may be able to fly, surely you are able to dig. At the very least you could pick up these people in one of your magical force fields and naff off at speed. What to do? Obviously, you engage them with purely physical strength in what amounts to an arm wrestle.
If you want intelligent AIs, read Iain Banks. You won't find them here.
There's no real moral dilemma either. When it comes down to it Tombs the Proctor, in a position of authority in a very brutal political system, turns out to be a Jolly Nice Chap after all and not in the least fond of hurting anyone. No, too easy.
Anyway, it certainly had enough oddities to make it interesting as a one-off but it's an avalanche of colourful but ill-linked and ill-explained ideas that won't bring me back for any more by this author.