It begins in the realm of the Real, where matter still matters.
It begins with a murder.
And it will not end until the Culture has gone to war with death itself.
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.
It started in the realm of the Real and that is where it will end. It will touch countless lives and affect entire civilizations, but at the centre of it all is a young woman whose need for revenge masks another motive altogether.
"One of the most entertaining Culture novels for a long time" - SFX Magazine
"Famed for his profoundly dark and intelligent humour, Iain M Banks has succeeded in weaving another intricate tale that offers fascinating insight into the human condition." SciFi Now Magazine
"...what sets this book apart is the quality of the writing and the depth of the author's imagination. Amongst all the mayhem, Banks raises some interesting questions about identity, death and the whole point of Hell." TheBookBag.co.uk