The newest Culture novel provides much of the same seen in earlier works. A few more hints about Subliming and the Sublime, lots of Ship talk, and stories of the early days of the Culture and its neighbors. A satisfying addition to the series but not up to _Surface Detail_. A Banks SF novel is always welcome but I would like to hear more of how the Culture came about (and stories set before that time about those who first Sublimed).
So this was my journey through this book. Excellent a new culture book arrive from Amazon. Great cover love the title. I open it and it starts well. I do like the promise to explore the topic of sublimation, it's an interesting premise, and I love the usual great world building in the shape of the ablate and the sculpt worlds.
Hmmmm this great secret the Gzilt are trying to avoid must be pretty huge to explain all this death and mayhem. No doubt we won't know what it is till the last 50 pages. Hold on I am just about half way through and the great secret is revealed and it's really not that great. Nah.....that cannot be it. There is almost half the book to go, there must be more to come. Oh look lots of talk about simulation and a comedy android that thinks everything is all a simulation. Now that would be interesting. Could the Gzilt all just be a simulation, but simulated characters that are actually sentient enough themselves to sublime? Now that would be interesting. Nope it's not that. Oh wellnver mind there are only 50 odd pages to go and the rest of the big secret from the dawn of the Culture is about to be revealed. Here we go, the rest of the big secret is...... actually no different from the what we already know from much earlier.
The big secret is really just not big enough to explain all the death and mayhem. Indeed the level of chaos and high level deceit introduced to attempt to supress the secret seems worse than the sublimation threatening disruption the plotters fear that the revelation of the secret would cause in the first place.
In short as ever I loved the journey but the destination was surprisingly disappointing.