This magnificent eighth novel (after 2000's Look to Windward) of the Culture, an interstellar posthuman civilization of incredible wealth and technological sophistication, centers on three siblings: Ferbin and Oramen, the misfit heirs of conquering King Hausk of the Sarl, who rules a backward and patriarchal realm deep beneath the surface of the artificial "Shellworld" Sursamen, and their exiled sister, Djan, now a powerful agent of the Culture's Special Circumstances division. When King Hausk is murdered, Ferbin narrowly avoids the conspirators and sets out across the galaxy to ask Djan's help with revenge against the killer, now serving as Oramen's regent. Soon they learn of the horrific forces a hidden enemy is about to unleash on Sursamen, and must race to save the home that has rejected them both. Beautifully written and filled with memorable characters and startling technology, this tale of intricate politics and interstellar warfare ably demonstrates that Banks is still at the height of his powers. (Mar.)Copyright 2007 Reed Business Information
Fans of the sf alter ego of literary fiction writer Banks will welcome his new Culture novel. The Culture, a highly evolved humanoid and machine civilization that spans the universe, is described from the point of view of a princess, Djan, given to the Culture by her warlord father. Now a highly trained Culture special circumstances agent, Djan returns to her home world on Sursamen, a fabricated sphere of 12 concentric worlds, created billions of years ago by a long vanished species, to act in a complex web of intra- and interspecies intrigue. Writing with a flowing and optimistic style and with much humor, the author portrays a fully imagined utopian future made possible by technology and a benignant world view, which contrasts with the many worlds depicted still struggling with war, famine, and disease. An appendix with lists of characters, species, and vocabulary terms is a great aid to the reader. Recommended for all libraries with contemporary literature collections.-Sara Rutter, Univ. of Hawaii at Manoa Lib., Honolulu
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