You heard it here first: The unabridged edition of Matter is only available as a download.
In a world renowned, even within a galaxy full of wonders, a crime occurs within a war. For one man it means a desperate flight and a search for the one, maybe two, people who could clear his name. For his brother it means a life lived under constant threat of treachery and murder. And for their sister, even without knowing the full truth, it means returning to a place she'd thought abandoned forever.
Only the sister is not what she once was. Djan Seriy Anaplian has changed almost beyond recognition to become an agent of the Culture's Special Circumstances section, charged with high-level interference in civilisations throughout the greater galaxy. Concealing her new identity, and her particular set of abilities, might be a dangerous strategy, however. In the world to which Anaplian returns, nothing is quite as it seems; and determining the appropriate level of interference in someone else's war is never a simple matter.
©2008 Iain M. Banks; (P)2008 Hachette Audio
Such is the draw to a Culture novel that I was compelled to purchase as soon as the title became available.
As has been the way with recent Banks work, the story takes place on a number of levels. Matter, takes this one stage further and locates the narrative inside a shell world which itself is made up of a number of levels - cleaver.
Imagine a heraldic prince, not unlike Hamlet who stumbles upon his fathers murder and the action spirals out to threaten the whole world, drawing the attention of the Cultures elite soldiers, SC.
At it's heart, the story contemplates the very meaning of life, but don't expect Banks to answer that, if the best Minds of the Culture can't. If however, life really is all just a game, what does it really Matter!
If you are a fan then tell your loved ones you will be away for 21 hours and when you return you will be suffering from withdrawal symptoms.
Let's hope it isn't another 8 years until the next one, but however long it takes it will be on My Next Listen list.
I usually ration my listening to when I cycle to work or am sewing, but this was one book that I kept on far longer when I came through the door.
I was prepared for the abrupt ending, having read a previous review, but agree it was disappointing, particularly for someone like me who likes to have explanations. Even so, that didn't spoil my enjoyment of an engrossing book.
"Difficult to put down."
One of my most enjoyable and addictive listens. Toby Longworth's narration is quite simply the best I have ever heard in an audio book and really helped to distinguish between the numerous characters. It was hard to think that Iain M. Banks could have imagined them sounding otherwise. I was sorry to finish the book and, unlike some other reviewers, rather liked the ending.
I'm a little bit disappointed that 'Surface Detail' has a different narrator but I'll give that a go too.
"Interesting foray into Banks world"
Excellent listen if you like Sci-Fi tinged with fantasy. The missing star is because of the ending of the book and not anything to do with the recording, which was exemplary.
The book seemed to screech to a halt a bit and there seems to be a chunk missing that would naturally flow from the end of the last chapter to the epilogue. I actually had to rewind and check that I had not missed something, and when this didn't reveal anything, I went into a bookshop and read the last couple of pages.
The ending does not detract from a thoroughly enjoyable listen, and don't let it put you off. I appreciate films/books where they leave the end open for interpretation, but this just seemed to have a little bit missing, nothing major.
"Brilliant and highly recommended"
My first Culture Novel which I thought was brilliant. Mixes galaxy spanning adventure with a very personal, touching family story set against the epic backdrop of the Culture galaxy. Occasionally difficult to follow due to the frequent weird and wonderful alien names it is non the less engrossing and thoroughly recommended for any sci-fi fans
"The best narrator I've heard"
This narrator was the best I've heard from an audio book. He mastered the dark comedy of these books and each character was totally different and full of colour. As for the story - this was also top notch. The sheer imagination at play here is staggering. The time scales, the different worlds, the Culture and the rules and politics within the Culture all add up to make something that stays with you a long time after you've finished reading.
I was gripped by this book from the very start. It was as much Toby Longworth's reading of it as the story. The story itself starts off very strongly but it looses momentum towards the end. It's like there's a few chapters missing. Still a really really good listen. I have now bought the next book in the series but decided to have another Toby Longworth book before I start it.
"An excellent book and a fantastic reader"
This is a fantastic book, and easily my favourite Culture novel to date. The characters are great, he setting fantastic, and the story romps along at a great old pace. I recommend it. The story does end a bit abruptly, but it is a fitting end and very much in keeping with the author's style.
I must say something about the Reader, as the quality of the reading can make a huge difference to your enjoyment of an audio book. I thought this was the best reading of any audio book I have ever heard. Exemplary.
First book I've read by this author but it wont be the last. I never thought science fiction was my thing really and I only had this in my library as it was a freebie from the Sunday Times. They know what they are doing though when they offer the freebies because now I am hooked and have already bought another of his to read. I have to agree with other reviewers that the narrator was excellent and I loved the ending.
"Frankly astonishing imagination"
A wonderfully immersive, moreish, page-turner without all the frustration of all that page turning !
Loved it. Book of the year 2008
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