Wow. What a dense, exciting book. Ann Leckie’s first novel is an amazing work and she is well deserving of all those awards she won this year. I didn’t quite finish Ancillary Justice before buying Ancillary Sword, its follow-up, but I just finished it today and wow. The twists in the last several chapters of the book are twistier, and Anaander Mianaai takes their place as one of the most smug and dangerous of all of SFF’s Smug Snakes.
The TL;DR summary, for those who don’t want to read a couple paragraphs of potentially spoilery text below: If you’re thinking about reading Ancillary Justice, and its huge pile of awards hasn’t already convinced you, add another recommendation to the list.
Breq is one of the most interesting and unique SFF heroines I’ve read in quite a long time. She’s the mathematical inverse of the “brainships” of the Anne McCaffrey “The Ship Who…” series – instead of being a human mind operating inhuman machinery, she’s an artificial intelligence meat-puppeting a human body. Only, due to Anaander’s treachery, she’s all that remains of her former self, Justice of Toren. And this AI is definitely a crap shoot; the inhuman detachment that the author has set up for Breq/Justice of Toren is a sight to behold.
It’s true what I’ve heard: The final hundred pages are setup for Ancillary Sword (which is on my reading pile immediately beneath Sparrow Hill Road, which has been sitting there ever since WisCon). But what an amazing setup it is, and Breq/Justice of Toren sets an incredibly high bar for follow-on artificial intelligence characters – very nearly as high as Leckie sets for first-time space opera authors.