is the first of Iain M. Banks' Culture novels.
It is space opera on the grand scale, set in the middle of an immense
war between the Culture and the Idirans, but its plot revolves around a
personal story. A Culture Mind has escaped an ambush and hidden itself
on Schar's World, one of the forbidden Planets of the Dead; the Idirans
send the Changer Horza, who has friends on a scientific station on the
planet, to capture it. Among other adventures, Horza's journey involves
him in battles with a mercenary band, an encounter with cannibalism, and
participation in a high-stakes game of Damage on an Orbital about to be
destroyed, before a final confrontation in the tunnels of Schar's World.
The plot of Consider Phlebas sprawls in sometimes disconnected fashion
and it is not the best of the Culture novels. As always, however,
Banks offers an abundance of original and appealing ideas and tells a
rattling good yarn.
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