Consider Phlebas is the first book in Ian. M. Bank’s Culture series and demonstrates his talent for suspense in a pretty hard core sci-fi novel detailing the exploits of a shape shifting secret agent of the Iridans.
Undertaking a clandestine mission to a forbidden planet in search of a fugitive artificial intelligence, Consider Phlebas is a serious space opera set in the midst of a war between two galactic empires.
The scale of the universe Banks paints is immense and apparently the rest of the series only gets better.
Gentile or Jew
O you who turn the wheel and look to windward,
Consider Phlebas, who was once handsome and tall as you.
– T.S. Eliot