Author: Iain M. Banks
Keywords: science fiction
Reading period: 29 August–19 September, 2010
Sarl is a barely industrial backwater on the Eighth level of a Shellworld,
a vast artificial planet of concentric levels.
King Hausk is secretly murdered after a battle by his top aide, tyl Loesp.
His oldest son, Ferbin the fop, witnesses the murder and flees for his life.
Meanwhile, his sister Djan,
who has long been a Special Circumstances operative in the Culture,
hears of the death halfway across the galaxy and heads for home.
Their younger brother, Oramen, is still a minor and tyl Loesp becomes the Regent.
It turns out that there's much more at stake than regicide in a primitive society.
Banks moves the narrative back and forth across several levels of societal advancement,
from Sarl at the bottom to the High-Level Involved like the Culture
at the top of the food chain.
He examines the bloody futility of war, personal heroism, (literal) world building,
and an aeons-old evil, weaving them together in a well-crafted tale.