first of all, I thought this was a 'Culture' book .. well, there's no trace of Culture in this book.
Then the story is 'bumpy', there are good parts and boring parts, maybe a little too long. And finally it reminds me of some Tomino works (the Japanese Anime director and creator), if you know what I mean ..
I thought I couldn't hate a book more, that Banks has disappointed me for the very last time, that I wanted to throw this out of a train's window BUT- I was wrong.
Yes, I started reading this in July and yes, it takes some time to become gripping, but then bam! It twists around, running to the end and you don't want to put it down.
The end itself is a little bit fumbled, but still, I love this guy Banks.
By the way, this is not a Culture novel.