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Ancillary Sword by Ann Leckie
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Ancillary Sword

by Ann Leckie

Other authors: See the other authors section.

Series: Imperial Radch (2)

MembersReviewsPopularityAverage ratingConversations / Mentions
1,8901246,072 (4.06)1 / 164
What if you once had thousands of bodies and near god-like technology at your disposal? And what if all of it were ripped away? The Lord of the Radch has given Breq command of the ship Mercy of Kalr and sent her to the only place she would have agreed to go -- to Athoek Station, where Lieutenant Awn's sister works in Horticulture. Athoek was annexed some six hundred years ago, and by now everyone is fully civilized -- or should be. But everything is not as tranquil as it appears. Old divisions are still troublesome, Athoek Station's AI is unhappy with the situation, and it looks like the alien Presger might have taken an interest in what's going on. With no guarantees that interest is benevolent.… (more)
Recently added byprivate library, chris-hanson, rena40, wyndlek, turmacar, kgladfelder, Darasuum, Kevkram
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*cries* ( )
  allison_s | May 25, 2020 |
Breq, an Ancillary, is the last remnant of the Artificial Intelligence that was once "Justice of Toren", a star ship built for conquest, with direct control of thousands of conquered human who have been mind-wiped and turned into "Ancillaries".

In the first book of the series "Ancillary Justice" we followed Breq's multi-planet quest for justice, or at least vengence, on the Lord of the Radch who used her to do a terrible thing and then betrayed and destroyed her. It was space opera on a grand scale, with astonishing universe-building that was still mainly about showing how Breq's experiences as a lone, much less powerful, entity shaped her, revealing her honesty and her compassion while honing her anger at everything the Lord of the Radch stood for.

"Ancillary Sword" continues straight on from "Ancillary Justice" but represents a complete change of pace. The Lord of the Radch, who occupies multiple bodies simultaneously across the Empire, is at war with herself. Part of her wants to use Breq as a weapon against the other part and so grants her her House name, accords her the rank of Fleet Captain, gives her command of a Ship, "Mercy of Kalr", staffed with human crew who choose to behave as if they were Ancillaries, and sends her to "Athoek Station", above a planet that produces the best tea in the Empire.

Breq's accepts the mission only because she wants to make amends to the sister of one her own officers on the "Justice of Toren". She arrives at the station and finds it to be a microcosm of The Radch where corruption and exploitation has been allowed to flourish to the edge of introducing slavery.

What follows is almost an inversion of scale from "Ancillary Justice".The focus is no longer on galaxy-spanning hi-tech warfare but on the rituals and civilities that provide the basis for people living together in a peace and on the persistent ability of the privileged to see themselves as the embodiment of culture and civilization while imposing a regime of brutal repression on those they see as inferior.

At first, I found the change in pace disorienting. I kept waiting for a Battle Fleet to arrive. Then I realised that this was really about Breq starting to decide how to relate to the human world. None of the people on the planet or the Station know that Breq is not human, so she builds relationships with them start with her House Name and her rank and grow based on the actions she takes to make the world around her more just.

Breq's relationship with her crew, humans who choose to try to appear as emotionless as the mind-wiped ancillaries, grows as Mercy of Kalr, who knows what Breq is, allows her to see monitor them as she would have her own officers when she was Juster of Toren. Her straighforwardness, her honesty and her refusal to bow to power when it is in the wrong, win the crew's trust and loyalty despite all of Breq's peculiarities.

Breq's relationship with the poor and the privileged and her reactions to the injustices she finds are all part of building her personal vision of how the world should if it were not ruled by The Lord of the Radch.

This is a book driven by the character of the actors. It takes a hard look at what it means to be a person, how power should be used and what justice means.

Of course, in the end, things get blown up and there is action on a spectacular scale but what lingers with me from this book is the power of a tea ceremony to turn what might be bloody conflct into a controlled struggle for power. ( )
  MikeFinnFiction | May 16, 2020 |
Having been swept away by the first book of the trilogy, Ancillary Justice, I dove right into this second book. This one starts almost immediately after the end of the previous book and has Breq being appointed ship's captain (and also being given the family name of the Lord of the Radch) by that part of the Lord who won the battle in the previous book. Her job is to ensure the security of the citizens of Athoek, not just from general unrest resulting from the events in the prior book but from the other part of the Lord of the Radch.

Having gotten a handle on this universe, I found this book less puzzling and more of a space opera (grand sci fi action adventure) and that was fine with me!

It was interesting to listen to this as an audiobook as the narrator Andoh pronounced things differently than I had imagined them when reading. Some of that was her English pronunciation (as opposed to my American one) such as in the oft repeated word "ancillary". ( )
  leslie.98 | May 10, 2020 |
I enjoyed this as much as Ancillary Justice. Much easier to step into and know the story and the characters - no feeling lost with the world building. The ending came up to quickly, the one part I didn't love, and I would have preferred a bit more than the 1-2 chapters at the end for tying it all together. The gender aspect is still vague but like that everyone is her and mother. And so ends book two and I definitely plan on reading book three next year. ( )
  kenley | May 7, 2020 |
Wonderful! Not as complex as the first in the series, focusing on one location and one timeframe. It's building to something big and I loved every minute! ( )
  Kardaen | Apr 24, 2020 |
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Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Leckie, Annprimary authorall editionsconfirmed
Andoh, AdjoaNarratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Benshoff, KirkCover designersecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Harris, JohnCover artistsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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"Considering the circumstances, you could use another lieutenant."
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Haiku summary
Ms. Lord of the Radch
Divided herself. Trust her?
Neither one, thinks Breq.
(pickupsticks)

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Ann Leckie is a LibraryThing Author, an author who lists their personal library on LibraryThing.

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