Vol. 1 of an influential space opera that strikes me as being terribly sketchy with flat characters being plopped down in assorted situations. Hard going overall.
Sadly or not, I've been spoiled by more fully-fleshed sci-fi written since. Robinson's Mars Trilogy took forever to read but was immensely satisfying in scope. Iain M. Banks's Culture novels? There is a way to write about the social, political, intellectual, and technological issues that create a world and convincingly people it too.