7 of 8 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars
Recommended, 12 Aug. 2008
A lot of the previous reviews below, are quite negative about this book. I totally disagree. This is, for me, the most satisfying of all of Bank's Culture novels. It's not a straight forward SF novel and you'll be disappointed if you want a story full of Culture technology and space opera action. If you're familiar with Bank's previous Culture stuff, though, you'll recognise the various hints and clues in this story that at least one main character is an SC agent. What I really liked about this book, though, was the complexity and sophistication of the multi-layered narrative structure - the fact that the story emerges second or third hand from multiple sources (sometimes re-written or re-interpreted by others)and that none of the 'tellers' of the story can fully grasp what 'really' happened. Neither do we, the readers, emerge at the end with a fully confident understanding of what 'really' happened - some of the narrators are in some way unreliable and none of them can really know where the main two characters have come from originally. It's a clever meditation on the nature of reality, historical fact and truth. It's a book that keeps you thinking long after you've finished the final chapter - I can't say that any of the other Culture novels have had quite the same effect on me.
It's very different from Bank's other SF. Give it a go though.