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It begins in the realm of the Real, where matter still matters.
It begins with a murder.
And it will not end until the Culture has gone to war with death itself.
It started in the Real and that is where it will end. It will touch countless lives and affect entire civilizations, but at the centre of it all is a young woman whose need for revenge masks another motive altogether.
There are stories that you read and you think "This is a great story!", there are those you read that make you think "I could almost believe I was in the story"...
Then there are stories that make you question your reality. This... is one of those.
Well, it was for me anyway. Mind you, I have always been captivated by stories that give you pause for thought as to the true nature of the reality we perceive. Such as the 'Matrix' movies, 'The Thirteenth Floor', 'Dark City', 'Inception' and the likes...
This story gets more than a little twisted in the plot department in more than a few places, but you can always spot where the story flies out into 'The Real' - it has the humans in it. No humans, well, it's probably a virtual environment of one kind or another... and if it's a Hell, it's certainly not Real.
It's all about choice... and cheating in the name of the 'moral right', and revenge, and... and so many other things that to name them would give away significant plot elements and ruin the surprises... but it is enough to say that this is certainly one of Iain's most convoluted, twisted plots... in more ways than one... and it gave me a lot to think about. Regardless of the existential 'Big Question' - "Am I real?" - that Descartes attempted to answer with his immortal "I think, therefore I am"... it also puts to mind such questions as "Is it right to punish the guilty long after they are beyond repentance?" and "At what point does it become acceptable to do wrong, in the service of doing what is ultimately right?".
Overall, a real mind-bender of a book, if you are a bit of a deep thinker, but a rollicking rollercoaster through multiple layers of reality if you just prefer a bit of space-battle fluff to read. This ticked so many boxes for me, I had to invent a few more just so it could tick them too. My only concern... the price was a little higher than I would have been happy to pay, had I not known it to be an awesome book beforehand. But that problem is solved for you now, dear reader, isn't it?
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