Top critical review
on 8 January 2011
As a devotee of the Culture novels now for some time I had great expectations of this latest offering from Iain M. Banks. I enjoyed the read for sure but completing the work left me a little deflated. There are wonderful, evocative, terrifying themes in this new space opera epic, especially perhaps the infernal topography of the cyber-Hells but Banks does have a tendency to get lost in his sub-plots. Of course all the strands are brought together by the end but some promising trajectories are cut short and others are, well, over wrought. Some are just simply pointless. The end itself was a bit of an anti-climax, entirely predictable. The most annoying aspects for me though were the rather repetitive battle porn and the Now-Not-So-Funny-Quirky-Ship-Names which have become the staple of the Culture genre. So yes, I am glad I read it ... but I am hoping that this author might apply his brilliant imagination to other SF narratives and concepts and give the Culture sequence a decent burial and a brilliant long run.