A war rages across the galaxy. Two species, the religious warrior culture of the Idrians, and the human-machine utopia of the Culture, are deadlocked into philosophically driven sides, neither willing nor able to give up. A fugitive Mind hides on a forbidden world. Both sides will do anything to retrieve it and cast into this turmoil is Horza, a Changer who fights for the Indrians against his own race.
Consider Phlebas is fairly well written. The characters, while not terribly complex, are grey enough to color perceptions and keep the book interesting. The best part is world building, which is quite detailed and thought out. Much of the book is a tribute to the grand old space operas with massive ships and conflicts stretching across the galaxy. The two opposing races in particular are extremely interesting and neither one is clearly sympathetic to the reader. I constantly wondered which side I should be supporting.
Despite the book’s positive aspects, I found it a little lacking. Part of it is the fact that at times it seemed Banks got a little caught up in his world building. There are a couple of sub-plots that seem to have little purpose other than to explore the Culture. The main thing though is that the book failed to grab me. I found it hard to care about plot and character developments. The good news is that the later Culture books all have different stories and protagonists so I might be tempted to read more in the future.
Although Consider Phlebas didn’t grab me, I would still recommend this book to any fan of science fiction and space opera.