Mary-Anne Personally, I would suggest reading them in publication order, so that means starting with a Thousand Words for Stranger. The "Stratification Cycle" books do depend a tiny bit on some of the information in them. Just a tiny bit.
Phil This book was published in 1997, with sequels in 1999 and 2002. The prequel trilogy, the "Stratification Cycle", was published in 2007–2009. Myself, I would read them in publication order, and once I'd been through them consider whether that or internal chronology would better serve for a re-read ;-)