It begins in the realm of the Real, where matter still matters. And it begins with a murder.
Lededje Y'breq is one of the Intagliated, her marked body bearing witness to a family shame, her life belonging to a man whose lust for power is without limit. Prepared to risk everything for her freedom, her release, when it comes, is at a price, and to put things right, she will need the help of the Culture.
Benevolent, enlightened and almost infinitely resourceful though it may be, the Culture can only do so much for any individual. With the assistance of one of its most powerful - and arguably deranged - warships, Lededje finds herself heading into a combat zone not even sure which side the Culture is really on. A war - brutal, far-reaching - is already raging within the digital realms that store the souls of the dead, and it's about to erupt into reality.
"Banks's labyrinthine and devious ninth Culture space opera novel adeptly shifts perspective between vast concepts and individual passions....New readers may be taken aback by the rapid pace, but fans will dive right in and won't come up for air until the final page." (Publishers Weekly)
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Excellent story, excellent narration