Ancillary Justice

Blurb

They made me kill thousands, but I only have one target now. 

The Radch are conquerors to be feared – resist and they’ll turn you into a ‘corpse soldier’ – one of any army of dead prisoners animated by a warship’s AI mind. Whole planets are conquered by their own people. 

The colossal warship called The Justice of Toren has been destroyed – but one ship-possessed soldier has escaped the devastation. Used to controlling thousands of hands, thousands of mouths, The Justice now has only two hands, and one mouth with which to tell her tale. 

But one fragile human body might just be enough to take revenge against those who destroyed her. 

Book Stats

Format: ebook
Length: 432 pages
Published: 2013
Publisher: Orbit
Source: Amazon

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Review

I read Ancillary Justice because of my science fiction module at university. It’s a complicated, confusing book. It took me a while to get into, however, when I did understand what was happening I really enjoyed it. 

It covers so many topics and issues. Everything from colonialism, to gender identity, to AI, to imperialism… and probably more I haven’t picked up on yet. The way it deals with gender identity was my biggest source of confusion with the book, but it is a refreshing way of looking at the topic. 

The Radch, who are the dominant society in the novel, don’t really have gender. Leckie refers to everyone in the book as ‘She.’ This is because the narrator struggles to tell which gender people are just from looking at them. As the novel progresses I came to understand that the Radch present in a pretty gender-neutral way, and there are subtle cues that others of their society pick up on to know whether they identify as male or female. But it doesn’t really matter. It’s a society in which gender doesn’t say anything about who you are, what your role in life is, or what you’re capable of. 

I really liked this representation of gender, and the use of ‘she’ as the default gender, rather than the traditntal, historical use of ‘he’.

Leckie splits the plot into two timelines for most of the book. We follow the narrator’s present day, and the storyline that led her to her present position. I never found this switching back and forth confusing, as I think Ann Leckie does a really good job of weaving the two storylines together. Towards the end of the novel, I struggled to follow the intricacies of the plot. So I think it’s a book that will benefit from a re-read. 

Breq is the narrator, and main character of the novel, and I really liked her. She does feel like a real person. Her motivations are clear, her actions make sense, and I appreciated her forthright evaluations of various situations. 

Ancillary Justice is a complicated novel, but one that is well worth the read. I plan to continue with the trilogy, and hopefully re-read it one day too. 

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