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.