- Stone, Irving — The Agony and the Ecstasy (439 of 763 pages)
- Morpurgo, Michael — The Mozart Question (68 pages)
- Unsworth, Barry — Stone Virgin (312 pages)
- Phillips, Caryl — The Nature of Blood (212 pages)
- Howard, Robert E. — The Conan Chronicles, Volume 1: The People of the Black Circle (549 pages)
- Lockwood, Richard & Steve Potz-Rayner — A Little Book of Lies (170 pages)
- Vickers, Hugh — Great Operatic Disasters (65 pages)
- Howard, Robert E. — The Conan Chronicles, Volume 2: The Hour of the Dragon (574 pages)
- Rennison, Nick — 100 Must-Read Classic Novels (164 pages)
- Augustine of Hippo (John K. Ryan, translator) — The Confessions of Saint Augustine (422 pages)
- Fitzgerald, F. Scott — The Great Gatsby (146 pages)
- Harrison, Fraser — Infinite West: Travels in South Dakota (188 pages)
- Banks, Iain M. — Consider Phlebas (466 pages)
- Banks, Iain M. — The Player of Games (307 pages)
- Carter, W. Hodding — Flushed: How the Plumber Saved Civilization (239 pages)
- Mandela, Nelson — Long Walk to Freedom (750 pages)
- Banks, Iain M. — Use of Weapons (411 pages)
- Banks, Iain M. — The State of the Art (215 pages)
- Banks, Iain M. — Excession (450 pages)
- Page count
Excession is the fifth book in Iain M. Banks' Culture series and one which many list as their favourite in the series. I felt it got off to a very promising start, but then I very quickly lost the thread.
Most of the characters are ship Minds, the unbelievably powerful AI with clever names that sort of run — to the extent that anything can run or govern an anarchic utopia — the Culture. And ship Minds aren't manifested physically: we're told their names and witness their personalities. I needed more tangible markers to grab onto, and thus I had trouble keeping the Minds straight. The plot is intricate, with conspiracies and counter-conspiracies and all sorts of weird shit threatening the stability of the Culture, but I often scratched my head wondering what role in this complex web of events this or that particular Mind was playing.
In the end, the quality of Banks' writing, joined with the idea that this pan-Galactic Culture is actually vulnerable to something, won out, and so I can't say it was a bad book by any means. It's just a bit of a slog at times keeping everything straight and so was not my favourite installment in the series.