Two civilizations are at war: the Idirans and the Culture. Horza, a shapechanger, serves as an agent for the Idirans. His next assignment is to retrieve a device created by the Culture called The Mind which has crashed landed and hidden itself on a desolate planet. How will Horza complete his mission, considering the planet is a frozen wasteland? Consider Phlebas is a hidden gem of space opera.
Iain M. Banks knows how to write the fast-paced action scene. One episode has Horza and a crew of mismatched mercenaries raiding a huge, dead spaceship floating around an object that resembles Larry Niven's Ringworld; during the raid, the ship crashes into a giant iceberg and the crew tries to escape with their world crashing around them. In another chapter, Horza flies a small spaceship through a larger ship's docking station; the result is a rip-roaring "car chase" scene that makes the reader want to duck his head.
Consider Phlebas contains a few things the reader might question. One, Horza is a likable character, but morally ambiguous. He kills innocent people without remorse. Two, the book contains a few chapters about a character named Fal 'Neegstra which interrupt the story and add nothing to the plot. Third, The last page of the book suggests that the story may not have even happened, but that is up to interpretation. If you read this book, read it for the guilty pleasure attained in loving space opera.
Overall, people who enjoyed Simmons's Hyperion or Vinge's A Fire Upon the Deep will enjoy Bank's Consider Phlebas.
Iain Banks' first Culture novel. It had some truly memorable disturbing moments! (eeewww! and it takes a lot to nauseate me!) But I like that.
You know what I want? Simpler worlds with more character development. This book wasn't it.
I'd picked up Consider Phlebas because I keep hearing about Bank's "Culture" novels, and so I thought I'd start at the beginning. Yawn. This is all plot, characters I don't care about, and a vaguely interesting galactic civilization that might be interesting if it was accessed in a different way.
3 of 5 stars.