I am fairly certain that this is a book that I saw recommended on a Pajiba post some time ago – it had been on my to-read list for some time. I finally picked it up late last year, a pretty battered copy from my library. It took me a while to get through it – it is a lengthy and dense novel, with some really loooonnnnnggggg sentences that always lead me to go back and reread the line to make sure I didn’t miss a period.
The first few chapters were a bit of a slog, for me. The Algebraist offers some fairly dense backstory, with much explanation for the spread of humanity throughout the galaxy, a fanatical hatred of artificial intelligence, and an enormous amount of bureaucracy. This story also introduces one of the most outlandish villains I have ever read about, but once the story moves into the relationship between Fassin Taak and the Dwellers the story really takes off. It is epic in scope, with a sweeping political landscape, an intergalactic war, and scientific mysteries about the key to a vast wormhole network. There are also smaller mysteries, which are nicely spread out throughout the book.
I am not sure how I felt about this book. I can appreciate how well it was written, it had some humour scattered throughout, and I was never sure how anything was going to be resolved. I still found it kind of a slog to read sometimes, which is probably more of a reflection on my attention span these days than anything to do with the book itself. I haven’t picked up any of Banks’ other novels since, but I am happy to have read this book.