This is the second in the Culture series by Banks. One thing that it is really great about the Culture series is that they take place in a setting, but the characters and stories are not necessarily related. That means that we don't get endless repetitive sequels with characters that have led absurdly full lives. We can also get interesting themes developed and a proper story arc. That probably makes the Culture series the most important series in the history of science fiction. The Culture is essentially a utopian society, and so far of the two culture novels that I've read, both are about outsiders to that system that end up preserving and expanding it. The Culture is a utopia and so the books are a kind of exploration of utopia instead of the more standard exploration of dystopia that we normally see. That makes the books very interesting.
The Player of Games is well written. In fact, it is substantially better than Consider Philebas, which is the other book in the series that I have read. It revolves around a board game. I find that fascinating, because my two hobbies are reading and board games and the book certainly drives at what makes boardgames fascinating. The journey of the main character is well done, the ideas are fascinating. The whole thing feels a little bit sad, even though good totally triumphs in the end.
The book once again confirms to me that generally speaking the British science fiction tradition is superior to the American, because the British have never seen a line between science fiction and literature. I'm going to continue reading Banks.