Ancillary Sword by Ann Leckie
Series: Imperial Radch #2
Also by this author: Ancillary Justice
Published by Orbit on October 7th, 2014
Genres: Science Fiction, Space Opera
Also in this series: Ancillary Justice
The sequel to Ancillary Justice, winner of the Hugo, Nebula, British Science Fiction, Locus and Arthur C. Clarke Awards. Breq is a soldier who used to be a warship. Once a weapon of conquest controlling thousands of minds, now she has only a single body and serves the emperor.With a new ship and a troublesome crew, Breq is ordered to go to the only place in the galaxy she would a agree to go: to Athoek Station to protect the family of a lieutenant she once knew - a lieutenant she murdered in cold blood.
So, after all the (much deserved) buzz and awards for Ancillary Justice, can Ancillary Sword live up to expectations? Can Leckie follow through with a book just as compelling? Yes. She absolutely can and does. Ancillary Sword is the continued pay off for time invested in Ancillary Justice. It is a highly intelligent, fast paced and intriguing story that I just could not put down.
It has all of the strengths of Ancillary Justice but honestly, I found this to be a much easier and quicker read than Ancillary Justice. That’s not to say that it is a lighter book. I think Ancillary Justice introduced us to many concepts that just took a little bit of time to adjust to and learn about. That adjustment has been made, I honestly did not even think about gender in this book. The pronouns all still default to female, in the first book I started out trying to determine if a character fell into the male or female bucket. By the end I learned to let go of my desire to figure out, realizing a large part of the point it to really underscore that GENDER DOES NOT MATTER! What better way to address that than to write a book with a gender blind perspective? I love that this series has made me (and other readers) do that. We can only judge characters based on the actual character and events, and not make any gender based assumptions.
The hive mind aspect was another thing that I loved in the first book, but admit it slowed my reading a bit. There is still a bit of that in this, as Breq gets information from the Ship about ongoings in other areas. So, while she may be conversing in one area, we will get interspersed information about other characters during that conversation. But I never once felt it slowed my reading, I no longer had that adjustment of jumping between simultaneous scenes. It just worked, and worked well.
Breq has traveled to Athoek Station to find Lieutenant Awn’s sister. This world should be “civilized” and peaceful. And on the surface, it can give that appearance. But of course, things are not always as they appear. And as the story unfolds, and we understand what is really happening on Athoek, the book gets to address a number of great political points such as “separate but equal” ideologies. I love books that take problems with our world and wrap them in a fictional setting without being preachy, books that can be read at face value or read to gain a perspective on our world.
For anyone that is on the fence if they want to continue the series, I absolutely urge you to read on. I think for some, learning the world and technology made Ancillary Justice a harder read. But those were all carried over, so this book allowed for a quicker reading experience, where the reader could focus on plot and characters much more without compromising the complexity of the world that was built in the first book.