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The Scavenger species are circling. It is, truly, the End Days for the Gzilt civilisation. An ancient people, organised on military principles and yet almost perversely peaceful, the Gzilt helped set up the Culture ten thousand years earlier and were very nearly one of its founding societies, deciding t to join only at the last moment. Now they've made the collective decision to follow the well-trodden path of millions of other civilisations: they are going to Sublime, elevating themselves to a new and almost infinitely more rich and complex existence. Amid preparations though, the Regimental High Command is destroyed. Lieutenant Commander (reserve) Vyr Cossont appears to have been involved, and she is w wanted - dead, t alive. Aided only by an ancient, reconditioned android and a suspicious Culture avatar, Cossont must complete her last mission given to her by the High Command. She must find the oldest person in the Culture, a man over nine thousand years old, who might have some idea what really happened all that time ago. It seems that the final days of the Gzilt civilisation are likely to prove its most perilous.
Iain Banks came to widespread and controversial public notice with the publication of his first novel, The Wasp Factory, in 1984. Consider Phlebas, his first science fiction novel, was published under the name Iain M. Banks in 1987. He is now acclaimed as one of the most powerful, innovative and exciting writers of his generation.