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Matter by Iain M. Banks

Matter, one of Iain M. Banks Culture novels, is set on the Shellworld of Sursamen, where different alien species live on different levels of the artificial planet built by a long-vanished race. On the eighth level are a human race called the Sarl who live in a feudal society. Prince Ferbin witnesses his father being murdered by his adviser, and Ferbin must go into hiding. His only possible help could come from his sister, Djan Seriy Anaplian, who was traded to the Culture, and she's now a comfortable member of Special Circumstances. She must, though, come to her family's aid, and she and Ferbin must uncover the dark secret that lies at the heart of Sursamen, all while under the watchful eye of the Culture. Matter has received positive reviews with the London Times saying, "The conclusion is unexpectedly savage, emotionally powerful, and impossible to forget. Matter, it turns out, is not so much about the physical stuff as it is about what truly matters."
Buy Matter by Iain M. Banks

The Telegraph review by Andrew McKie

London Times review by Lisa Tuttle

Scotland on Sunday review by Stuart Kelly

The Guardian review by Steven Poole

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