I'm actually in the middle of The Phoenix Exultant at this very minute (just put it down to have a coffee and check my e-mail). After a slow start in the first volume, I found myself increasingly engaged, and by now I know I'm going to stay with the series to the end.
Wright's debt to Iain Banks is pretty obvious -- the Golden Oecumene is a lot like the Culture -- but he blazes his own path through the far future. This series is definitely *NOT* military SF (though key characters are soldiers -- Atkins, Bellipotent). Indeed, it barely qualifies as space opera (at least as far as I've read), since it mostly sticks to Earth and near-Earth space. But it's definitely grand-scale SF with big ideas and space travel!!
I don't think I've ever read SF by a lawyer before. Wright is such a writer, and I find his riffs on the intricacies of future law both fascinating and amusing.
I can imagine that some readers might find the story slow-moving (I sure have at certain points), and Wright's dense, allusive approach to prose narrative might also be off-putting. Ditto with his excessive reliance on 19th-century stereotypes of masculinity and femininity. (Not to mention his annoying use of "which" and his often clumsy syntax.) Nevertheless, I'm enjoying the ride, and I'd recommend this series to anybody who likes thought-provoking SF that tends toward the baroque.
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