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A brilliant, well written, thoroughly engrossing story. A word of caution: if you are a reader who has difficulty with made-up words then this story will be challenging for you, as it is filled with them. But this book is, without a doubt, an excellent example of masterful sci-fi world building.
Highly recommend this book. Even more so, I recommend the audiobook. The reader brings the characters and occasional songs to life in a meaningful and additive way.
It's interesting world building but I loved the AI in a human body. One Esk's fondness for acquiring songs from different cultures was endearing. Leckie shares in an interview her own love of singing note songs and some of the inspirations for the songs in the book.
As many before me: I’ve never read anything like it. Unnerving and thought-provoking. Great read.
This book took me a few times to finally gather enough momentum to get to the parts that made it impossible to put down.
Just amazing. The perspectives and the concepts and the characters are all delightful. The world is unique and powerful, especially with a great deal of care being placed on linguistics, which was super cool. Don't stress about not understanding the world, as it will come at you pretty quickly. There are a great deal of strange words and concepts that will finally catch up (IE - Esk, or One Esk - spoiler a Justice is a troop carrier ship, each deck of the ship is a 'decade' kind of like a military company, and each one has corresponding Ancillaries - So One Esk is just the primary Ancillary of the Esk deck). Other words are similarly different decks of these ships.
Don't worry, you will catch on, and I hope you do. It's a fantastic ride. I can't wait to finish the rest of the series.
I started recommending this book before I even finished it and I cannot wait to read Leckie again. Ancillary Justice has elevated the "Space Opera" genre, it is refreshing, forward thinking and complicated. It entertained me with it's complicated, intricate and exciting story, but also gave me pause to think about wider questions about our world and humanity. Brilliant. — Lee B., Eden Prairie Library
This first book of a trilogy made quite a splash when it came out as a first novel from a relatively new author. When a warship is destroyed, all that survives is the portion of her personality which had been installed in a single human body. This newly human Breq then becomes embroiled in international politics and scheming at the highest levels. There's a lot to like about this book and its two sequels, but the author seems to be very strenuously trying to make some point about gender identity, and despite reading the whole trilogy, I still don't know what that point is. The semi-robotic protagonist is astute enough to detect the physiological signs when people are lying to her, for example, yet she is unable to discern male from female. This makes the narrative confusing at times as pronouns are used according to an odd logic, leaving me unable to figure out which character was speaking and to whom he/she was speaking. I did find the trilogy rewarding enough to stick with, but I can only give it a qualified recommendation.
Incredibly original and creative science fiction novel which won both the Hugo Award and Nebula Award for Best Novel. You are just thrown into this future universe with little explanation; but once you get a little ways in and can start to appreciate what is going on, you can’t put it down.
Breq, apparently a well-trained soldier, is actually the last remaining “ancillary” of a space battle cruiser’s artificial intelligence. In this universe, technology allows the Radchaii military to remove the identity of captured enemies and turn them into extensions of the ships. Each ship has thousands of perfectly obedient ancillaries. But in this case, the ship was destroyed while this ancillary was disconnected from the main A.I.
Leckie examines what it might be like to be a small remnant of a larger mind and, since much of the story is told in flashback, we also see what it was like to have been a PART of that larger mind. The story is told in first person, which allows Leckie to write the story in multiple first person viewpoints of the same identity. One of the details I really liked is the vagueness of the genders of the characters. Because of different languages and cultural traditions, whether someone is identified as “male” or “female” in the use of pronouns depends on different things in different cultures. The reader cannot tell what gender we would use for any character, which is purposely disorienting.
This is the first of a series. It’s a GREAT start and should be on every SF reader’s short list to read.
No wonder this work won the Nebula, and for a first-time author! It broke through walls in my mind that I didn't know existed, and creates an even stronger fabric in the ongoing tapestry of gender equality. Brilliantly portrays a more fully developed artificially intelligent being, while probing what it means to be human. Worth rereading the series.
I'm not entirely certain yet how I feel about this crafty novel. Despite space-focused sci-fi rarely being a genre I gravitate toward, I absolutely enjoyed and was entertained by it. However, due to its complex nature, I'm convinced that there were details or understandings that slipped by me, although maybe a re-read would increase my appreciation further. Definitely going to pick up book #2 in a month or two to see what happens next.
Ann Leckie's debut novel is the only book to win all three of the Hugo Award for best novel, Nebula Award for best novel, and the Arthur C. Clarke Award for best novel, and I can entirely understand why.
'Ancillary Justice' is an outstanding novel with fantastic characterization, well developed plot, and interesting conceptually. Conceptually, the novel serves as an interesting exploration into both gender and colonization through its various narrative devices; the characterization of the ancillary "corpse soldiers" was memorable and striking in particular.
Ultimately, a well worthy recipient of all its accolades and will serve as a benchmark for science-fiction in the 21st Century for years to come.
Ancillary Justice is a powerful experience to read. One of the most immersive parts is the book’s approach to gender and worldbuilding in general. All Radchaai citizens go by she/her pronouns and gender effectively does not exist (leading to some conundrums when Breq, on other planets, needs to appear non-Radchaai and has to figure out the concept of gender on the fly). As I read and found myself inadvertently gendering characters, this part of the book led to some interesting self-reflection. The worldbuilding around the concept of ancillaries are also fascinating: the Radchaai conquest formerly had an aim of collecting humans in suspended animation to later be ancillary bodies, with implants forced into them that effectively killed them and slaved their bodies to the AIs of ships; however, new reforms in the Radch have banned “manufacture” of ancillaries although ships continue to operate with ancillaries, which they consider parts of themselves and near-impossible to live without. The prose is also very sparse with just enough description to let you imagine a whole world outside the characters—think J.K. Rowling.
Ancillary Justice is highly acclaimed, but the plot itself is not the most compelling independently (the two sequels, Ancillary Sword and Ancillary Mercy, fill in plot holes). I was compelled enough by the concept of ancillaries, Radchaai culture, and Breq’s character to keep reading, but if you can’t immerse yourself, the plot can seem to drag. If you can stick through it, though, the story picks up in the latter half/third and definitely gets better in the later books.
It’s not for everyone, but I definitely liked reading it and couldn’t put it down—I’m still rereading! Something about it struck a chord with me, though I can't put my finger on it. It's immersive and gorgeous, a space opera in every sense.
Brilliant book! It takes a lot of energy to read (you really are dropped into this world with characters unlike anything you've ever read before), but it's totally worth it.
I went in being pretty excited for this despite not reading much SF, and most of that was because it was supposed to be kind-of unique and also an award-winner. But what it was, was mostly very confusing for me. I do not have the mind for specific types of SF, and this was one of those. Weirdly though, I actually read the book decently fast, I just don't think I was absorbing much. So I'll just say that this wasn't my cup of tea, but others may like it.
I want to say that me not giving it a full five stars has a lot to do with the fact that my reading of the book was sort of unfortunately chopped up because of library return policies (which is my fault, not the library's!) But this book was such a rich world that I'm excited to explore more; I really felt immersed in it, and think Leckie did an amazing job conveying this experience that is in a lot of ways totally alien. I also think that the plot is so incredibly- how to articulate this. I really think that what she's set up is incredible because it's so not easy, and especially for Breq, there are things that are just out of her power even as much as they frustrated me. It's a sort of main character/hero that's unlike anything else I've encountered before, and it really challenged me as a reader in my reactions and understandings of the character, and how I felt about those actions over the course of the book. So, so impressed with that part of the storytelling, honestly.
I also wanna address the gender issue bc I think that was the reason I read this book in the first place (in addition to it being recommended to me by about 10,000 people): this book challenged my sense of gender so, so well; I was constantly reminding myself that despite the pronouns, I shouldn't be assuming the gender of the characters, and then doublechecking that assumption and going "no it's just that gender is fake" and that was really challenging but also exhilarating and exciting as a reader??? So like MORE OF THIS IN ALL GENRES OF FICTION PLEASE AND THANK YOU.
Overall I really really did like this book, and I am looking forward to more of this world and all of its intrigues!
At page 60.
All the gibberish names and foggy relationships of characters, places and historical events have gone in one ear and out the other, so to speak.
If you can flail your arms through the literary cobwebs to find the wonderful nuggets that other reviewers have raved about, then good luck to you.
An extraordinary achievement. Sequels Ancillary Sword and Ancillary Mercy are fabulous. This series has (deservedly) won every award out there.
I know I'm late to the party, but I really enjoyed reading this. All the good things other people have said? They aren't wrong. It's twisty and weird and super satisfying with great characters. If you're in the mood for sci-fi that will keep you turning pages and staying up way past your bedtime, get your hands on this series.
I read two of the three books in this series prior to meeting the author at the 2015 Carondelet Library Author's Breakfast. Not only are they a good read (I'm drawn to books where the characters actively work towards a just world) they're revealingly feminist in a captivating and provocative way. I highly recommend the series!
I really loved this book. It has a very innovative concept I haven't seen explored before and the author avoids falling into common cliches. The characters are well-developed and the plot is interesting and unpredictable. I appreciated how Leckie explained the actions and viewpoints of the major players but doesn't excuse them. This book is very well-written and I recommend it.
This book is well written but a bit confusing with all of the invented, outer-space language. There were so many planets and cultures and people to keep straight, it got overwhelming at times, especially in the first half of the book. It really is a "space opera;" it's a dramatic plot but sometimes you just don't understand what's really going on.