Review No.128 – Ancillary Justice

Ancillary Justice (Imperial Radch No.1) – Ann Leckie

Orbit, 2014

Originally published in 2013

Deep in the outreaches of human civilisation, far from the heartland of the Radch where her life began, Breq is searching for a secret that could topple an empire. She is all that remains of the vast military starship Justice of Toren – an artificial intelligence that once commanded thousands of human ancillaries. It was lost twenty years ago, and now Breq is alone. But she knows who betrayed her. And she knows how to avenge herself.

Ancillary Justice is a remarkable novel, skilfully constructed around a fascinating concept. Breq is one of the most unusual characters I’ve ever encountered and it took me some time to settle into the structure of the book, but its quiet emotional depth and excellent world-building hooked me in. I especially love how Leckie plays with different languages within her universe to reveal cultural norms and ingrained biases. There were a couple of characters whose behaviour changed too quickly for my liking, without quite enough explanation, but overall the support cast of Ancillary Justice were strong. The Imperial Radch series continues with Ancillary Sword.

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