Speaking of what order to read a series of books in, I realized that I had read about half of the Culture novels and wasn’t sure which ones or where I was in the order. Turns out, it really doesn’t matter—the Culture is just the unified backdrop for several widely different novels. And when I went to read the first-written book, Consider Phlebas I was half-way through before I realized that I’d already read the first half. But I’m glad I pushed through, because I don’t think I’d finished the book before. I think. I’m losing a lot in my old age. Anyway, this book is typical of a Culture book in that it’s set outside of the Culture. The Culture is a galaxy-wide socialist Utopia and so it’s kind of boring. For a good story, you need to go outside to the fringes and this book concerns a small incident during a war between the Culture and an expansionist alien race. It’s a quest/journey story and adventurous as all get out.