Ancillary Justice by Ann Leckie – review

By on October 18, 2013


Publisher’s Description:

On a remote, icy planet, the soldier known as Breq is drawing closer to completing her quest.
Breq is both more than she seems and less than she was. Years ago, she was the Justice of Toren–a colossal starship with an artificial intelligence linking thousands of corpse soldiers in the service of the Radch, the empire that conquered the galaxy.
An act of treachery has ripped it all away, leaving her with only one fragile human body. And only one purpose–to revenge herself on Anaander Mianaai, many-bodied, near-immortal Lord of the Radch.

What I expected:  I was not quite sure what to expect.  I knew it would be a military science fiction with an artificial intelligence as the main character.  I did not have any preconceived notions on this one because I have not read too many novels with an AI as a main character, and I hoped that it would be interesting.

What I got:  Wel,l it was definitely interesting!  I got more of a political story than a military one, to my mind – though many people will say all military is politics anyway – and much more of a personal feel from an artificial intelligence.  I got quite a bit of confusion, as well, trying to uncover the naming conventions that were stalling my brain when dealing with the ancillaries and their units.  It took me a good long while to get into the story because of this and the confusion of learning about this new civilization and how they interact with each other, the physical world, and other entities.  And so the first half of the book went pretty slow for me.  However, I was enjoying it enough to keep going until the narrative really picked up and was glad that I kept with it.

What I liked:  I really liked how the author gave the reader the sense of how much information was being pulled in and monitored by the Justice of Toren by pointing out all of the differing views it was being given through all of the ancillaries on duty at any given time.  I also liked how Breq had to deal with messy human issues when it had no real background in dealing with that kind of thing.

What I did not:  The naming convention for the ancillary units was a bit confusing to me, so it got a little annoying.  I felt that there was a logical flaw that would mean that this narrative could not have happened the way it did according to the world building.  However, this never occurred to me until I was finished with the story so it did not affect my enjoyment of the book.

Cover talk:  I actually like this cover a lot, but I did not think I would.  I like that it could almost be an abstract and the lines make the eye focus and sort out what it is looking at before immediately seeing it is a science fiction tale.

Recommendation:  Any science fiction fan should give this one a try.  If you like the idea of space travel with all of its conflicting civilizations and contrasting religions and stories based upon the hurt and fear engendered by betrayal from within, you will like this.  Additionally, it is almost a story of discovery of self.  Justice of Toren has to be much less than she used to be, and this is both better and worse.

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