The Player of Games by Iain M. Banks
This second novel in the 'Culture' series is an improvement on the first, but it did not hit me over the head with the groundbreaking new ideas which I was expecting from the Culture's reputation.
As in the first novel, the drones seem to get all the best lines. The author seems to write machine characters better than humans.
The novel starts slowly, but builds up pace once the protagonist sets off on his journey to play the most complex game in the universe.
A solid, stand alone story. Worth a read, but don't expect a masterpiece.