PoG is excellent imo, first Culture book I read and probably stil my favourite (and where I got my avatar from) and the books aren't linked in any way so you're not gonna lose any of the story.Thanks for the comments - I have a boxed set which also includes Player of Games and Use of Weapons, so if I continue to struggle with Consider Phlebas I'll move straight onto PoG.
He references the poem again of course for Look to Windward but I can't tell you much about that book, as I haven't read it!
I read this quite awhile ago now (a few months, anyway) but somehow missed this thread. I thought two scenes were stretched out unconscionably long: the 'flying through the Death Star' scene (giant ship or whatever) and the climactic train scene. But they were still pretty good; especially the latter. (The 'irresistible ship meets immovable mountain' (or whatever) scene was also a bit drawn out, but less so, and was really good.) IOW, most of his large action set-pieces are inefficient.
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