The Algebraist by Iain M. Banks

The Algebraist audiobook cover

The Algebraist had been heartily recommended to me by a friend, and heartily recommended against by another. Naturally, I had to pick it up. My take: it’s not at the top of my reco list, but it’s not in my hall of shame. I enjoyed it, found it somewhat thought-provoking, and thought the plot twists were interesting. My opinion might be biased to the negative because I had just (finally) finished Iain M. Banks’ Matter, book 8 of the Culture series, and hated it. It’s fair to say I was a bit put off by Banks’ style in The Algebraist after forcing myself to finish Matter. Even with that negative bias,

I still enjoyed this one. It’s a very large stand-alone novel that takes a bit too long to develop for my liking—at least for a novel that really only follows one character in depth. I don’t mind a long read, but I want to dig deep on multiple characters like Peter F. Hamilton does. For this length, I wanted more than just one main character.

Publisher’s Summary

For short-lived ‘quick’ races like humans, space is dominated by the complicated, grandiose Mercatoria, whose rule is both military and religious. To the Dwellers who may live billions of years, the galaxy consists of their gas-giant planets – the rest is debris.

Our human hero, Fassin Taak, is a Slow Seer privileged to work with the Dwellers of the gas-giant Nasqueron in his home system Ulubis. His work consists of rummaging for data in their vast, disorganised memories and libraries. Unfortunately, without knowing it, he’s come close to an ancient secret of unimaginable importance….


Genre: Sci-Fi