I always liked that one; I think it was Banks' second Culture novel after Consider Phlebas. As you touch upon, it is narrower in scope, so to speak, than the other Culture novels (though not nearly so much as Inversions is).

I think I've probably read it 3 times over the years; about par with other Banks SF, with a couple of exceptions.

I wish Banks had had the inclination/time to do another novel in the universe of The Algebraist.....