Even though it was a re-read I read this within 3 days. The story is very captivating. The second of the Culture novels we get a deep dive into it and then we get another deep dive into another alien culture which is quite imaginative. At the heart of this novel is the thrill of games. A lot of people can relate to that nowadays and yet, there aren't that many genre books focussed on that. Although this was written at the end of the 80s the use of they as a single pronoun wasn't yet a thing in literature and the view of gender presented in this book is quite binary (and also heteronormative). Even though gender relations and policy play a big role in Azad and are discussed in the novel. Well, you can't have it all, I guess. A must-read for all sci-fi fans.