Having read other Culture stories before Consider Phlebas, the thing I liked most about this one is the change of perspective it offers. The other Culture stories I’ve read have been all pro-Culture. In Consider Phlebas, the story is told from the perspective of a Culture disputant, or someone who is unsure whether the Culture is for good or evil.
The other thing I liked about this novel was that it was all about the retrieval of a Culture Mind. The Culture Minds, to me, are some of the most interesting characters in this series. Their intelligence and the way they supposedly think out every possible outcome when making the decisions they make, make following these stories to the end really interesting—at every point you’re left wondering OK, why did the Mind just do what it did. Consider Phlebas, in addition to all the other sub-plots running through this story, give the reader great insight into the world of Minds. That makes this story great fun.
And unlike the others I’ve read from this series, Consider Phlebas focuses less on character development and more on all the cool technology of the Culture. The characters in this story come and go quickly, and those that last are never fully developed more than is needed to keep the plot moving. However, the story goes to great lengths explaining the ships and orbitals and Minds and AI found in Culture civilization.
Consider Phlebas was definitely a good read. I wouldn’t say it was my favorite Culture novel, but it was one of the better that I’ve read so far. And it has me excited to read the next.