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Publisher's Summary

The first Culture novel, now available as an unabridged audio download.

The war raged across the galaxy. Billions had died, billions more were doomed. Moons, planets, the very stars themselves, faced destruction - cold-blooded, brutal, and worse, random. The Idirans fought for their Faith; the Culture for its moral right to exist. Principles were at stake. There could be no surrender.

Within the cosmic conflict, an individual crusade. Deep within a fabled labyrinth on a barren world, a Planet of the Dead proscribed to mortals, lay a fugitive Mind. Both the Culture and the Idirans sought it. It was the fate of Horza, the Changer, and his motley crew of unpredictable mercenaries, human and machine, actually to find it, and with it their own destruction.

Consider Phlebas is a space opera of stunning power and awesome imagination.

©1987 Iain M. Banks (P)2010 Hachette Digital

What members say

Average Customer Ratings

Overall

  • 4 out of 5 stars
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    95
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    50
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    30
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    7
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Performance

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    21
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    1
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Story

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  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars

Fantastic and exciting

Great character development, a wonderful story, and the performance by Peter Kenny is flawless. A great opening outing into Banks’ series. Horza is a super memorable character, as are some of the supporting cast. Definitely recommend to any fans of sci fi.

  • Overall
    3 out of 5 stars
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    4 out of 5 stars
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    3 out of 5 stars

Awsome universe but normal story.

Unpredictable read that had many unusual peaks before an interesting finish.

Better than most but not a great book.

  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    4 out of 5 stars

good if somewhat longer than necessary

enjoyed the story but struggled to finish. i thought the postscript did not do justice to the story

  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars
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    4 out of 5 stars

Disappointing ending

I loved the journey and the characters, the places and people/situations encountered it was entertaining and interesting. Peter Kenny os fantastic particularly at pronouncing those fantastic futuristic names and very realistic character voices. Unfortunately I was disappointed with the way it all ended, but loved the journey. Thanks Iain.

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars

Action Packed

Great combination of intelligent storycrafting and skilled oration. Really enjoyed the foreshadowing of small events and the blindisiding of major ones.

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars

Action in space

Would you listen to Consider Phlebas again? Why?

I might return to Consider Phlebas after listening to the rest of the series

What was one of the most memorable moments of Consider Phlebas?

The train crash

Which scene did you most enjoy?

The explanation of the game Danger. The players, the addicts etc. You could smell the room.

If you made a film of this book, what would be the tag line be?

The hunt for identity

  • Overall
    3 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    4 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    3 out of 5 stars

Brilliant universe. Decent plot and characters

Didn't focus on the things I found interesting like the Culture and the Idirans and their conflict, technology and ideologies. instead all of of that just formed a backdrop. The main character was unlikable at times and one chapter was hard to stomach but other than that a good read!

  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    4 out of 5 stars

A masterful narrator performance and curious story.

The narrator is truely brilliant in his portrayal of the story. He reads quickly enough to excite, but you can tell that it's not (at least not much) sped up. His accents are unmistakeable and well suited for each character.

The story is quite interesting, though sometimes predictable. I'm looking forward to reading the rest of the series.

  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    4 out of 5 stars

Expansive

Good story, could have been a bit more edited by Iain. Some fairly tricky parts to follow because of the scene cutting. Tricky to keep attention where Iain describes the minutae of the scene without any seeming benefit to story or pacing. Listening through twice helped. Peter Kenny was an absolutely fantastic reader. With the perfect pacing, and seamingly inexhaustable breath managed to race through racy bits, without talking so slowly that unusually, I rarely felt the turned up the playback speed. He did not take long pauses between every sentence as some readers do, and for this I am thankful. He did take adequate pauses when it was necessary. Highly recommend this reader to anyone looking for an exciting and varied voice in their ear for several hours
Please, consider listening to the epilogues as they are witty and interesting and add a bit of gloss at the end of this classic culture novel.

  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    3 out of 5 stars
  • RFC
  • 12-03-2017

Very action focused

I would prefer more insight into the world and less shoot outs.
also - a major drawback of all audiobooks - the appendix which provides useful insights into the motivations of the groups engaged in the war going on in this book are at the end. so, you don't learn about them until the main story is over.

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  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars
  • Jacobus
  • 24-12-2010

Peter Kenny makes the book worthwhile

I enjoyed Iain M. Banks' book because of an excellent narrator. I am not sure that the story itself is so great... although it falls probably in the genre of tragedy.

This is the first book in Banks' Culture series and is a must to read or listen to should you be interested into being initiated into his universe where man and machine have become equals in the sphere of existence. Set against the background of the Culture (humans and machines) and Iderian war, Horsa, the main character, must find his own way through the maze of loyalties. Horsa chooses against artificial life, just to... well read or listen the book to find out.

4 of 4 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars
  • Peter
  • 21-11-2010

Routes of The Culture

A good listen. All the technological depth and character development you could want in a sci-fi novel. If you like "Ring World" or "The Mote In God's Eye", you'll probably like this more.
Only four stars out of five because it mainly lacks the humour of his later books. "Matter" (by the same author) was just brilliant!

Though this is Iain M Banks' first sci-fi novel, it is a 2010 audio production.
Once again, Peter Kenny excels as narrator.

3 of 3 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Mr
  • 28-11-2011

Classic, intelligent sciFi

Read this years ago: an absolute classic of sciFi. The novel works on many levels - as a story line, as a set of believable characters, and as a created world of its own. The sciFi environment which envelops the characters is convincing and deeply thought through - right down to the subtlety of the relationship between humans and the highly evolved AI computer systems who jointly form the 'Culture'. The novel is told through the character of an enemy of the Culture, again a thoroughly thought through interpretation of how a genetically modified species might interact with other species and cultures. Mostly though, the sciFi world created is convincing enough to allow the reader just to enjoy the battle of wits between the two principal characters.

Some of the scenes in the book are reflective of the extremities of behaviour which might be expected by extrapolating extreme character traits over immense populations, and I must confess I found them a bit strong - but they do contribute to the depth of characterisation and the sense of urgency in the story line.

The performance from Peter Kenny is well paced and compelling - to quote Jerry Pournelle in the golden days of Byte magazine - 'recommended'.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    4 out of 5 stars
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    4 out of 5 stars
  • Kevin Newman
  • 29-10-2017

Banks is a master

If you like Banks, you'll like this. If you like cerebral sci fi, you'll love this. If you're looking for more adventurous, action or discovery driven sci fi, this book will seem odd to you. This is more like the kind of sci fi that explores human conceits, morality and achievement. It's the kind of sci fi that explores intellectual ideas that concern society, rather than what is out there in the future for us.

  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
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    4 out of 5 stars
  • Wayne Davis
  • 20-08-2017

Very good narration / Excellent Story to a point

First two thirds brilliant, then goes off the rails ending too abruptly leaving reader unfulfilled.

  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    4 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    3 out of 5 stars
  • Anonymous User
  • 26-06-2017

A nice start to something that really grew up

Culture novels in their infancy are still good reads (listening). Not quite the level of some later installments by Mr. Banks but entertaining space-operas for a bit more mature audiences.

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Nicholas Tutton
  • 29-04-2017

.

I keep coming back to this one. every time I finish it I mourn the loss of Ian Banks.

  • Overall
    3 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    3 out of 5 stars
  • Niklas
  • 16-01-2017

Fantastic narrative but shallow plot

He has a fantastic way of paining the environment in vivid ways and with surprising detail. The plot however feels shallow in the big picture and leaves you feeling less than satisfied.

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars
  • Ronan Joseph
  • 13-08-2016

a classic story narrated by a truly great orator

the narrator perfectly put across the varying moods of the story and personified each of the characters. the story itself is of course well-loved, but I was impressed with how well Peter Kenny brought the story to life. this audiobook was much superior in my opinion to reading the paperback

  • Overall
    3 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    3 out of 5 stars
  • Michael
  • 03-07-2014

outstanding reading, so-so plot

Would you try another book from Iain M. Banks and/or Peter Kenny?

I'd try Iain Banks again. I read another book of his which is very good. But this one tales off badly, despite some good ideas. It's like he was a chess player who learnt a lot about openings but had no experience in end games. It goes off like a damp squibb.Ok, this is the first in the series, and others say later books are better and this is necessary background. That might be so. But it doesn't stand alone.Granted, this was one of his first books, written nearly 40 years ago, but it's not that the technology is dated. He just didn't know where his story was leading; at least within this book.

How would you have changed the story to make it more enjoyable?

More of a sense by the end of why we should have been interested in the book

Which scene was your favorite?

Peter Kenny's reading is outstanding. His capacity for different voices and accents, consistently maintained is very impressive. He makes the listening very interesting, and rarely if ever gets the sense of a sentence wrong.

If this book were a movie would you go see it?

No

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  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars
  • scotty
  • 09-04-2012

A Truly Great Sci-Fi Novel

Consider Phlebas (CP) is without doubt a conceptually stunning piece. The breadth and depth of the concepts and constructs is breath-taking. There are throw-away ideas in CP that would be an entire book for another author.

OK, CP is a linear tale lacking some of the structural fun and games of the later novels and character names can be a bit of a challenge, remembering who's who, but all credit to the narrator for helping out with strong vocal work. Seriously, have you ever tried to narrate even a chapter of a book? Creating, remembering and switching voice personas is extremely challenging, so a quick round of applause for Mr Kenny.

Banks' style is engaging and the action or fight scenes are incredible but without doubt the single most captivating aspect of the book is The Culture and the Minds that enable it. All of the incredible robotic menace of the Matrix or Terminator genres is tossed on its head by the super-artificial intelligences that provide for the needs of every citizen... Because the AI's seem to want to keep people around and happy. Is it symbiosis? No, what do organics add to the AI's? Interest and entertainment certainly but it does seem to be an almost 'master-pet' or 'farm' relationship except there seems to be no negativity.

I digress. Stunning concepts. Intelligent prose. Challenging ideas. Gripping action.

What more do you want?

Seriously, I'd give it 5 stars but I know what's coming later in the series and if you think this one is good, the later novels will knock your socks off!

Enjoy!

36 of 36 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars
  • Peter
  • 01-03-2011

Enjoyable

This is the first of the Culture novels and the second one I have read after 'Matter'. This book introduces a fascinating universe and I can see why Banks has kept it alive through the series of books he has set in it. the story is pretty easy to follow once you have adapted to the names, characters, technology and politics and it is fast-paced enough not to become bogged down like other space operas I have read. The story is linear and self-contained with a good ending. Well narrated and recommended to those that like the genre - it is a good example of its type.

16 of 16 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Adam
  • 16-12-2010

Ideal Banks for Audio

Coming back to Banks thru Audible I found this a gripping reintroduction to his work - weaving threads of characters thru the whole with his typical skill & artistry and totally absorbing as an audio book.

8 of 8 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars
  • Anonymous User
  • 26-12-2010

A good book brilliantly read

Peter Kenny's reading is 5 star. Consider Phlebas is Iain M. Bank's first sci-fi novel. Whilst a great rolling space opera it lacks the tightness and narrative tricks he applies to his non sci-fi novels and later sci-fi works, so only 4 stars.

5 of 5 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    2 out of 5 stars
  • Toby
  • 14-06-2011

Underwhelmed

Having heard and read so many positive reviews of Iain M. Banks' work I was looking forward to this book. Maybe my expectations were too high, maybe I just didn't "get it" but for whatever reason I found this book very ordinary despite the good narration and voice characterisation by Peter Kenny. From the beginning of the story I found it hard to engage with the various characters and by the end of the book I just didn't really care about any of them or the societies they represented. Although the pace was pretty good some of the scenes seemed superfluous such as the episode with The Eaters. I wasn't sure of the purpose of that scene, it almost appeared to be there just to add to the word count. The ending of the book and it's epilogues just seemed to lead to nowhere particularly interesting. Certainly not a dreadful book but also not as good as I had been lead to believe.

19 of 22 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Steve Leyden
  • 04-08-2016

an excellent storyline

An excellent plot which keeps you wanting to listen and the narration maintains a level of excitement throughout the production. I would highly recommend this book to anyone with an interest in science fiction.

3 of 3 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Anthony
  • 07-04-2013

Phlebas Considered

I'll confess up front that I'm a huge admirer of Iain Banks' science fiction. Banks has created an epic utopia/dystopia that is utterly involving, thought provoking and rewarding.



Peter Kenny is a brilliant narrator and brings life to the many characters that are introduced throughout this first 'Culture' novel.



Highly recommend this and the series as a whole.

3 of 3 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Sue Bayliss
  • 14-12-2012

There is nothing like a bit of Banks

I like Iain Banks work, so am bias. It's been many years since I read this book and thought I would try the audio book. It didn't disappoint. If you like science fiction give it a try.



I also like Peter Kenny narration of the book very much.

3 of 3 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • RMB
  • 21-11-2010

A truely excellent book

Whilst I'm the first to accept that individual taste is exactly that, the only rating so far is a single star and it prompted me to write something to balance that view. I still consider this to be the best of the Culture novels and is actually the easiest to get into.

10 of 12 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Patrick
  • 30-05-2015

Epic and tragic

A staggering story in terms of its breadth and ambition.

I've listened to it twice over the past couple of years but this time it really took me this time and, whilst on a long run, I had to stop and have a cry.

Fabulously narrated by the always high performing Peter Kenny.

Thoroughly recommend to even non sci-Fi fans.

2 of 2 people found this review helpful