‘THERE IS DEATH HERE’
One of the best lines from this novel, stated matter of factly, by the Dra’azon to the protagonist and his crew as they approach the Land of the Dead planet.
Although you don't know this at the time, later you realise that this is information as to what awaits them when they land. Depending on your intepretation, that could be the bodies of changers and Idirans, or fate of the protagonist and his crew.
Consider Phlebas is a very visual book and I can see why Banks would like to see this one filmed, it would be interesting to see a director's take on the number of action set-pieces which remain vividly in the memory: fight under the hovercraft; the megaship crashing into the iceberg; the game of Damage being played at the massive space orbital; the ship Clear Air Turbulence escaping from inside the somewhat larger ship, The Ends of Invention; and the final train wreck.
Banks' novel is very different to that written by a lot of American authors, it is not 'gung-ho', there is no clear good or evil side as the lines are blurred, and the backdrops and environments are a mere aid to the telling of the story.
It is also quite dark, not as dark as the Revelation Space series by Alistair Reynolds, but darker than say the Commonwealth Saga by Peter F. Hamilton. Both series I would highly recommend, for different reasons.
It is the first book in the Culture series, and the first book in that series and by Banks that I have read. I am sure I will continue with the series but I am not sure how it will all link up at present (if at all) and I did not find it gripping enough to want to read the next one straight away.