Review – Ancillary Sword

Ancillary Sword (Imperial Radch No.2) – Ann Leckie

Orbit, 2014

The Radch empire has splintered. Anaander Mianaai, made near immortal through generations of clones, has reigned for millennia but a schism in her consciousness has led to an extraordinary civil war. Breq used to be the emperor’s weapon; now she serves in name only, doing what she can to protect those under her care. That alone will be no easy task. With the military splitting into confused factions and every citizen of the Radch forced into making impossible choices, Breq will be lucky to stay alive.

Ancillary Justice was a remarkable series opener. Leckie made a point of showing how heavily entwined language and perception are – for instance, with a whole culture that uses only female pronouns, she created an almost genderless novel, which was both fascinating and disconcerting to read. Ancillary Sword is very much a middle book, extrapolating on the events of the previous installment while setting up the scene for a third. That means there’s not as much action, but it does allow a greater exploration of the cultures within the empire and the messy clash against Radch expectations. It’s solid, thoroughly enjoyable science fiction. Book three, Ancillary Mercy, will be released in October of this year.

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