Sci-fi, 7/10 – Jul/08-Mar/09
This story is set in a Shakespearean-like era with kings and princes and swords and battles – minus the romance. Actually, it’s more like medieval Merlin and the knights of the round table because the civilization is shrouded with myths and has the equivalence of dragons because it is semi-integrated with alien cultures and alien artefacts. I didn’t find the story all that engaging but I did find the planet the story is based on well worth reading about. Banks calls it a “Shellworld”, a ancient alien construction built up from several separate layers, each effectively a world in itself, with its own planetary conditions, civilizations and even artificial suns. The tech level of the story builds and builds and the ending is true action Sci-fi.
My favourite bit of all the culture novels is reading about the ship minds and AI. Banks really captures my imagination and hits the Sci-fi sweet spot.