The Culture: A humanoid society run mainly by sapient machines that were originally designed and built by the humanoids but now design and manufacture themselves for the sole benefit of the humanoid societies. Humanoids live a life of leisure unless they choose to work, they can also live up to and beyond 400 years old through manipulative surgery.
The main character in a humanoid but is on the side of the Indirans and we follow his ordeals as he is ordered to capture one of the Culture Minds that has escaped capture and fled to a desolate but forbidden planet. It is a rather circuitous journey and we find him in a few seemingly unrelated incidents before the main target comes within reach.
There is far more going on in this book than I could ever explain in a short review but some of it seemed irrelevant to the story, to me at least. Once we reach the stage where the main plot takes over it is great! Good action, believable characters, almost believable science though none of it goes beyond anything you will have watched or read in Star Trek. The goodies are likable, the baddies are OK too, at least their point of view is explained and you can pick your side though the finale has it’s winners and losers, some predictable, some not so.
I enjoyed this first Culture Novel though it is not the first Culture novel I have read and it appears they can be read in almost any order as none of the stories seem related other than the Culture society itself. It could have done without the side story that takes up a good third of the book. I give it 3 out of 5 stars, mainly because the side story seemed so irrelevant.
Added 8th June 2015