Consider Phlebas (Culture, #1)

By Iain M. Banks

Rating: 3 stars

I’m not entirely sure what to make of this book. It’s one that I have read before but it was so long ago that I couldn’t remember anything about it. On one hand, a Culture novel is always a Good Thing, but this had the problem for me that its protagonist was outside of and opposed to the Culture.

This was the first Culture novel: the Culture and the Idirans are at war, a Mind has crashed on a Planet of the Dead, doing something that was thought impossible to get there and both the Culture and the Idirans want to get hold of it. The ‘Changer’ Horza, already working for the Idirans, is sent to get it for that side.

Horza is the protagonist and we see the world mostly through his eyes. But he has an irrational hatred for the Culture, and, from reading other Culture novels, I sympathise with them and find it difficult to empathise with him. For all this, though, it’s a very strong novel, and the tragedy that builds up towards the end is an almost physical thing. Not my favourite Culture novel, but certainly a good one.

Book details

Publisher: Orbit
Year of publication: 1987

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