|Full title||Look to Windward [permalink]|
|Author||Iain M. Banks (author)|
|Categories||Novel and science fiction|
|Original publication year||2000|
|ISBN||0-7434-2192-2 [Amazon, B&N, Abe, Powell's]|
During one of the most violent skirmishes in the Culture-Idiran War, a binary star system is blown up, and as the light from that event reaches the Orbital Masaq', the renowned composer Mahrai Ziller (an alien, a Chelgrian) is slated to conduct his latest masterpiece in coincidence with it. Meanwhile, another Chelgrian, the Major Quilan, is tasked with a mission (and a cover-story for that mission) whose objectives are unknown to him but which are gradually revealed (both to him and the reader).
As this is a Culture novel I could almost have recommended it without reading it, and the verdict after having read it is still the same. This is an excellent story, one of political intrigue, love lost, secret missions, espionage, and huge sceneries. I particularly enjoyed the light-hearted chapters about Uagen Zlepe and 974 Praf, the former a human-turned-simian scholar (and an all-around twitchy and funny character), the latter a pterodactyl-like sentient creature and Zlepe's companion (also pretty incompetent and funny because of that). Their extremely serendipitous doings and fallings (don't ask) did much to lighten the otherwise heavy mood.