Ancillary Sword

Ancillary SwordWhile I enjoyed Ann Leckie s Ancillary Sword the 2nd book in the Imperial Radch Series, I don t think it measured up to the complexity and sheer scope of the first book in the series, Ancillary Justice Leckie s attention to details in ritual and language continue in this book and maybe was thoroughly explored It might be difficult to convincingly say, in a space opera, that you enjoyed the intricacies of tea ceremonies along with the choice of accompanying dishes, but it is compelling as it relates to both cultural identity and the Radch annexation of planets That said, the plot lacked a clear direction And the complexity of competing storylines seen in book 1 was absent I still like the protagonist, Breq and her perspective having been the AI for the spaceship Justice of Toren as well as ancillaries of this self I m still thinking about what happened and didn t happen in this follow up book , but the writing is very good and I m looking forward to finishing this trilogy I m bumping 3.5 stars up to 4. 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 HorticultureAthoek 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 Ancillary Justice was a spectacular debut, but its successor is a lot less sure footed Leckie s attempt to marry Space Opera with domestic tragedy feels a bit too much like Sense and Sensibility and Spaceships.It s clear by now that Leckie is keen on promoting a particular political sentiment, and Ancillary Sword is all about the confluence of the personal and political Unfortunately the domesticity becomes a little tedious, and the cooking lacks any flavour.Anaander Mianaai s Radchaai imperium is, not surprisingly, rotten to the core Esk Nineteen now Fleet Captain Breq Mianaai is sent to secure a neighbouring system by the slightly less odious part of Minaai s fractured self, and discovers a rat s nest of corruption and abuse The reader may be puzzled by the early focus on the quality of the Fleet Captain s china, and regard it as some sort of interlude Don t The book never really rises above this level of tedium If you don t regard such domestic trivialities as important, you ll miss the important clue that the quality of one s tea service provides later in the book Yes, it s laid on with a trowel.Leckie s politics are a lot heavy handed than in AJ, and there s a lot less going on to divert the reader s attention It also becomes rather painfully clear that Leckie has only the slightest idea how real soldiers, either male or female, actually think and behave The most awkward part of the whole book comes with her attempt to characterise the human crew of Breq s ship, which feels like a girl s boarding school than a military unit in a rapacious and brutal empire.Maybe the third book will be better It s hard to see how it could be worse I was wildly excited by Ancillary Justice, and maybe that explains my disappointment in its sequel. Downton Abbeyin SPAAAAAACE No, it really is The novel is filled with tea, and fine china There s polite meetings in polite society There s blushing in abundance at the smallest of social faux pas There s tears from the young uns when their jobs are just a bit too overwhelming There s snooty as hell top of society landowners with brat children to match There s tea There s gossip amongst the servants, and resentment amongst the slaves There are gardens And tea And dressing expectations And a funeral with a proper and lengthy period of mourning and doing nothing And because everyone is bored with life, there are accepted and expected trysts galore Also tea 95% of the action in the book falls somewhere between a snore and a boring college professor s lecture There is, to be fair, a bomb And there is a murder But everything, and I mean everything, is dealt with such straight faces and such inhuman emotional reactions and I do understand we re working with ancillaries here as to make the producers over at the BBC stand up and wildly applaud though quietly and politely, and certainly without smiling, unless it is wryly And tea.In other words, it s Downton Abbeyin SPAAAAAACE A few other notes Note As others have pointed out, the major theme of the novel of seeing slaves as people is very heavy handed, and cliched Note As others have pointed out, no one in this military acts like someone in the military even an imaginary military.Note I m not really sure that the title works very well here Ancillary Sword There s not much swording going on Breq doesn t exactly cut through the social expectations, either She just sorta has tea until the social expectations change Not very swordly of her Note I found this book much easier to read than Ancillary Justice because I knew Leckie s style going into it, and because the narrative in this novel is focused on one time frame However, the ideas that made Ancillary Justice so compelling were hardly to be found in Ancillary Sword the idea of being an ancillary, one of many, was almost gone in this novel The idea of Anaadnder Mianaai being at war with herself was almost non existent The idea of conquering planets and turning the inhabitants into ancillaries was barely present And the idea that the all powerful Presger might have been meddling with things, well, the reader is told repeatedly that the Presger are not involved In summary, all the interesting ideas were taken out replaced by tea Note In the end my feelings about this book are on par with my feelings about those of Lois McMaster Bujold and her Vorkosigan Saga books with promise, but that are far too polite Final Note Downton Abbeyin SPAAAAAACE Warning spoilers for Ancillary Justice If you haven t read the first book yet OMG WHY NOT , avert your eyes right now.Ana s Take It s probably not an exaggeration to say that all SFF eyes are on this book right now Given the immense success of Ancillary Justice it won all the major awards and yes, this includes a rare Book Smugglers Double Ten Review I bet everybody is thinking will the sequel be as good as the first novel Well, the answer is a resounding HELL YES.From a plotting perspective, Ancillary Sword is at first glance, a rather straightforward affair The story picks up where we left off at the end of Ancillary Justice with The Lord of the Radch still at war with herself and Breq as a newly minted ship captain on her way to Athoek Station, where Lieutenant Awn s sister lives At the station, Breq gets involved with the station s day to day management and with the petty and not so petty relationships between its different sections At the end of the day though, Breq is there to make amends to atone for what she did to her beloved Lieutenant Awn.The first thing to note about Ancillary Sword is how it has a largely linear narrative and a very limited point of view One of the most important aspects of Ancillary Justice was its alternating narrative between the now and the then, with the latter offering a taste of what it was like for Breq to have its consciousness split between multiple viewpoints This is all but gone in Ancillary Sword and all we are left with is the Breq from now the Breq that needs to come to terms with the fact that she is now a one bodied ancillary an ongoing journey started 20 years prior to the events in Ancillary Justice She is occasionally able to experience multiple bodied viewpoints that the ship Mercy of Kalr shares with her and Ann Leckie continues to handle that head hoping with aplomb but those moments are brief and almost too elusive and end up amplifying Breq s sense of separateness.This is perhaps the most striking thing about Ancillary Sword how it manages to be a deeply personal, emotional book without losing track of any of the larger issues that continue to be explored here Breq is an AI, not human and it s interesting that the sense of her being not entirely human really hit me strongly here in this second book, ironically, just as Breq becomes and human Although one could and should make the argument that the AIs and the ancillaries and the ships in this series are not completely separate, emotionless beings The moments that resonate the most are in fact, the ones when these supposedly unemotional beings show they have a remarkable sense of compassion, justice and feeling than the supposedly civilised Radchaai should have and in fact, are said to be the only ones to have.This is one of the strongest ongoing themes in these books the examination of what it means to be a Citizen, what it means to be civilised, with a confrontation of internalised assumptions and prejudices from both a personal and social point of view.That all of this happens whilst Breq not only investigates threats from aliens as well as from internal forces within the empire but also confronts aspects of the Radchaai that include the hidden truths of exploitation and slavery of different peoples It s basically genius GENIUS, I say, because the narrative might be linear, might be reduced to mostly Breq s one point of view but it still captures SO MUCH, in a complex way that is, at the end of the day, also incredibly fun.I could list a few criticisms perhaps there is some unnecessary, repetitious considerations from Breq Perhaps, the question of slavery was heavy handed than necessary or perhaps not, some things should be faced HEAD ON after all THERE WAS NOT ENOUGH BROODING SEIVARDEN But to me, those are minor flaws in an otherwise perfect book Once with feeling ALL THE AWARDS And also a top 10 spot for me.Thea s Take Please allow me a brief moment to be incredibly unprofessional and fangirly because holy effing crap Ancillary Sword, you are amazing.I have to add my voice to Ana s, singing the praises of both Ancillary Justice and Ancillary Sword and marveling awestruck and stupefied by Ann Leckie s writing prowess Holy effing crap.Can I take a step back and examine the text in context As Ana says, Ancillary Justice won ALL the awards last year taking home the Nebula Award, BSFA Award, Arthur C Clarke Award, Locus Award, and the Hugo Award This is success on a near unprecedented scale, especially for a debut full length novel Suffice it to say, there is a lot of expectation when it comes to follow up novel Ancillary Sword How could anything top the glorious mind bending, challenging, award winning marvel that is Ancillary Justice Perhaps Ancillary Sword doesn t quite live up to the same rush, the same unexpected in your face challenge that Ancillary Justice posed but it s still an amazing, thrilling, provocative novel that forces readers to question their own humanity And I loved it OH, how I loved it.In Ancillary Sword, Breq the Artificial Intelligence that was once grand starship Justice of Toren, brought low to a single body, hungry for vengeance has been given its own command and her own mission by none other than Anaander Mianaai, Lord of the Radch On her new ship, the Mercy of Kalr, Breq makes quick use of power as Captain as it sets course for a distant star system in an uncivilized part of the galaxy There are conflicts aplenty in Ancillary Sword as Breq deals with administering its power on its new ship without becoming too enmeshed in the consciousness of said ship , the inter personal tensions of the Radch and the Lord of the Radch s own splintering consciousness, the tensions and conditions of colonized people on a distant planet a parallel to the enslavement and former forced ancillary procurement of conquered peoples , and the appearance of a new external threat that can challenge Radchaii hegemony.Needless to say, there s a LOT going on in Ancillary Sword And yet, for all of these plot threads, this second book is one that is extraordinarily intimate As Ana says, a large part of this is because we are now with Breq as it is now, without the alternating narrative into the past We, readers, are entreated to Breq s current thoughts and feelings, its emotions and burning sense of justice and understanding of anger as it deals with tensions both personal and interstellar It s also kind of funny, because though Ancillary Sword is a much intimate book, it s also one that illuminates just how different Breq is not quite human, but a far cry from the conscienceless killer robots, or the anthropomorphized human like androids of science fiction s past Breq is Breq The development of this particular character and its struggles I particularly want to call attention to Breq s reluctance to entwine fully with its new ship, and Breq s treatment of Lord of the Radch ancillary Tisarwat are the driving factors that make Ancillary Sword so successful and resonant At least they are in my mind.On the plotting and overall trilogy arc moving front, Ancillary Sword is, admittedly, a bit weaker than its predecessor There are plot threads aplenty in this second book, but there s also a bit of heavy handedness particularly when it comes to the effects of colonialism in space , and a sense of in between ness as there are so many stories to be resolved in the next book.These quibbles are but footnotes, though, to a truly spectacular sopho novel I loved Ancillary Sword, truly, madly, deeply It is absolutely a top 10 pick for me this year, deserving of all the awards, and all of the praise.Do yourself a favor and read it immediately, Citizen.Rating Ana 10 Perfect and a top 10 book of 2014Thea 10 Perfection Ancillary Sword fell just a bit short of the brilliance of the fantastic Ancillary Justice but still proved to be a very good and thoroughly enjoyable story in its own right I think Ann Leckie gets the balance between thought provoking concepts and the story perfect Leckie gets you thinking but also keep you thoroughly entertained With the start of civil conflict within the Radch leadership one of the Anaander segments sends Breq, and her new ship Mercy of Kalr, to the only place she knows Breq will actually agree to go That is the system that Awn s sibling resides in Breq is determined to see her safe in the coming conflict Upon arriving in the system Breq finds social issues that need dealing with and also has to be on the lookout for of Anaander s plots in the region There is also hints that the Presgar might have taken an interest of their own in the system The story was quite entertaining This instalment lacked the mystery of Breq s true nature and the originality of Radchaai culture, as we familiarized ourselves with both over the course of the first book, but did have plenty of interesting mystery and intrigue Breq herself remains a fascinating and easy to root for lead character Theme wise we were back to dealing with issues like racism, classism, colonialism, gender identity, mental illness, and corruption All were integrated into the story in such a way that they never overwhelmed the story itself All in all I really liked this one It was just a little below the first book in terms of overall quality but there is no shame in that as AJ was one of the best sci fi books I ve ever read Rating 4.5 stars.Audio Note This was narrated fantastically well by Adjoa Andoh Her general narration was excellent and so was her voice acting She had an excellent array of accents. Executive Summary Probably not as good interesting as the first book, but I still enjoyed it 3.5 Stars Full Review Ancillary Justice is one of those books that has become severely over hyped I read it early on as the hype was starting to build and before it won every award under the sun I enjoyed it, and I m not surprised it won so much, but I would have been equally unsurprised if it didn t It s definitely one of those books that many people will read and scratch their heads at.So now we come to the sequel to what is arguably the most successful or at least the most decorated book of last year Will Ms Leckie continue on her success or fall into the dreaded sopho slump For me the answer is closer to the former, than the latter The first book gets a lot of discussion about the lack of gender Everyone is a she If I m perfectly honest, I don t notice or care most of the time I m not sure if that s the point To me it just feels like a gimmick though But it really doesn t matter to me one way or the other Someone much smarter and literary than I am can debate the implications or try to determine the gender from the context, I ll be busy reading another book One of the other gimmicky things about the first book I did really like however was the way Breq while the only viewpoint was still multiple viewpoints I was happy to see that Ms Leckie managed to continue that on in this book as well I think it s a really cool idea that makes for very unique storytelling.Overall though, this book felt smaller We spend most of it on a single planet and an orbiting station Breq is dealing with a lot of petty problems of the locals I really wanted a book dealing with larger problems revealed at the end of Ancillary Justice, but this seemed to mostly dance around that.Yet despite that, I still found it to be a page turner I liked the characters I continue to enjoy Breq and her its take on things Breq has a truly unique viewpoint There are certainly times that Breq feels a little too capable and smart, but it never really bothers me.So much like the first book, I rather enjoyed this book, but I m not going to be exactly gushing over it I think anyone who enjoyed the first, will enjoy this, and anyone who didn t won t find this be any better. In Which Breq is sent to a somewhat remote part of the Radch am I the only one who keeps wanting to pronounce that Radish Empire In pursuit of closure regarding a personal matter, Breq encounters Grave Social Injustice, and tries to make things better Obstacles are Encountered, and Action and Intrigue happenIf you haven t already read Ancillary Justice, some aspects of the setting might feel a bit bewildering to a new reader However, the story itself works pretty well on its own it feels like an episode If you ve already read the first book, this one might not feel as startlingly original However, I wholeheartedly loved it This is superlative sci fi adventure that should appeal to both genre purists and venturesome readers The feel of the writing and the themes of the book are both very similar to Lois McMaster Bujold s Vorkosigan saga I d very much recommend this to fans of that series. One of my sci fi writer heroes, Gene Wolfe, once said that a story works by engendering expectations and then satisfying them That, then, are the two primary means by which a story can fail Either it neglects to setup expectations or it sets them up but doesn t satisfy them Of the two, the first is by far the worse I recently reviewed Radiance and gave it one star because its post modern, author indulgent structure failed to ever setup any sort of expectations or stakes It didn t teach me how to interface with it and was, as a result, a chore to read On the other hand, I recently gave Philip K Dick s Flow My Tears three stars because it setup expectations for an ontological puzzle but failed rather spectacularly in that regard and instead delivered a intimate, human, almost autobiographical story It was fun to read, if not satisfying in the way that it promised to be Ancillary Sword falls into this latter, less egregious category.So Ancillary Justice which I really liked ended by inciting an empire spanning conflict between the two facets of schizophrenic emperor Anaander Mianaai It introduced the mysterious element of the Presger, a super advanced alien species who may be interfering with the Radch empire It setup some personal stakes for Breq Justice of Toren, who wants to go to a nearby station to protect Lieutenant Awn s sister Further, the book as a whole contained interesting thematic flavors of free will, terrorism, and mental illness.OK I m down with that That s what I like to see intimate, personal stories interwoven within the larger fabric of society and the universe I prefer stories that are immediately engaging but which contain depths that reward careful thought That s why I like sci fi So my expectations were properly engendered, and I bought both Ancillary Sword and Ancillary Mercy.To say Ancillary Sword didn t satisfy those expectations would be like saying a McDonalds quarter pounder isn t the best for your health Point in fact, I don t think I ve ever seen so precipitous a decline in quality between a book and its sequel.The best way I can describe Ancillary Sword is that it s a Jane Austen novel in space That is, it s a novel of manners Which isn t necessarily a bad thing Space opera has always possessed Victorian vibes It s just this book is not what Ancillary Justice promised Anaander Mianaai barely makes an appearance The Presger barely make an appearance Lieutenant Awn s sister barely makes an appearance They are, as best I can tell, after thoughts And the themes of free will, terrorism, and mental illness go largely undeveloped.Instead, here s the plot Breq shows up at the Station and there s some sketchy stuff regarding a ghetto In response, Breq social justices yes I turned this into a verb but honestly that s the best way I can describe her actions in this book When you get right down to it, she doesn t actually DO much of anything she just sort of acts stern toward people who don t share her opinions or values Then there s some Young Adult conflict because and I kid you not, this is the PRIMARY inciting incident one 17 year old says to another, You re such a fucking bore No, really They make a HUGE deal out of that comment And also there s a teenage lieutenant who actually, not even kidding here, once says, YOU DON T UNDERSTAND to Breq, and storms off The inclusion of these YA overtones frankly blew my mind, and not in a good way.Anyway, Breq then contrives to descend to the planet below, whose major export is tea Super important crop during war time, I know There s some sketchy stuff regarding social class and the exploitation of farm workers In response, Breq social justices And then there s a conspiracy involving stealing bodies to turn into ancillaries, which clearly is the main plot, but gets a comparatively low amount of ink time and just kinda reveals itself without much effort from Breq.And just what is Breq Justice of Toren s stake in all of this Why does she care about people in the ghettos Why does she care about one random 17 year old girl calling another a fucking bore Why does she care about the tea farm workers not getting fair wages shrug As best as I can tell, the entire motivation for the book s protagonist is doing the right thing Allow me to suggest that s a personality trait, not a motivating factor But without a motivating factor, how can we have a plot I mean, a plot or less boils down to a character having a desire but being blocked in her attempt to consummate it, right Here s Toy Story When Andy gets Buzz Lightyear, Woody is jealous and desires to be top toy again So he contrives to get rid of Buzz But then they both end up lost And then Woody desires not to be left behind, so they have to get back before Andy moves Great desires Jealousy over another s popularity and not wanting to be be forgotten by those we love Those are motivations we can all understand.Here s Star Wars Luke is a farm boy who desires to escape his rural backwater of a home and experience real adventure Leia is a princess who desires to overthrow an evil empire Han Solo is a smuggler who secretly desires a greater sense of purpose Darth Vader is an ex Jedi who, because he has lost that which was most dear, desires to see the galaxy burn Or, alternatively, to validate his decision to embrace the Dark Side, desires for his son to join him These are all great desires struggles because we can actually track whether the characters are making any progress in satisfying them We can also guess what will happen if they DON T succeed.Now, here s Ancillary Sword Breq is an ex ship who wanted to assassinate the lord of her empire in order to reveal her split personality She succeeds In the ensuing chaos, she takes the opportunity to protect Lieutenant Awn s sister because she loved Lieutenant Awn Thus, she goes to the planet below and gets involved in the struggle of the farm workers Um what Why does she want to help the farm workers again Why does she want to give some 17 year old her comeuppance Why does she care about the sanitation conditions of the ghetto on the station Why does she care about the inequality in the universe How do I even assess whether Breq is succeeding at her goals or not What will happen if she fails Thus we have a story in which the plot is divorced from the protag s desires Which are themselves not entirely clear As best I can tell, they re social justice Even if so broad and abstract a desire could work I have my doubts , it certainly doesn t here The social justice here is incredibly simplistic I kept waiting for some complexity in the rich upperclass overlords But no they re almost carbon copies of the rich upperclass overlords in the first half of Ancillary Justice The main antagonist, insofar as ink time is concerned, is the aforementioned 17 year old girl boy who said, such a fucking bore I kept waiting for her to behave in some unexpected, complex way Cause, yknow, that s how people actually are But nope She s just a spoiled jerk 100% And her mother, the bourgeoisie tea plantation owner, is likewise equally exploitative and manipulative, without any depth whatsoever And the captain of the other ship in the system, the Sword of Atgaris, has all the personality of a pill of ambien Can I have Anaander Mianaai back now Addendum I rue these words While Captain Hetyns is woefully boring, Ancillary Mercy s Anaander Mianaai is even worse That s right her characterization is worse than zero.So I did enjoy my time reading this book It was by no means an onerous read I am still massively impressed by the fact that the main character essentially suffers from Schizoid Personality Disorder And Breq s ability to see through her ship s eyes was excellently integrated to allow us to follow the doings of other characters while still remaining within Breq s PoV That s the type of awesome stuff you get with sci fi.But I expected far better I expected to learn about the Radch empire and the universe it inhabits I expected a plot that focused on the vastly compelling elements of the Presger and Anaander Mianaai s split, and to see Breq humanized with regard to Lieutenant Awn s sister I expected complex characterization I expected a further exploration of the themes of free will and especially how human beings interface with intelligent machines and vice versa Instead I got YA elements, social justice, one dimensional characters, and a hilariously on the nose festival involving pink plastic penises hung on the wall In fact, that last provides an excellent summary of the book as a whole juvenile, obvious, artificial, and cold. I m sure I m not alone in my judgment, but I m torn about this book The ending was very good It reversed a lot of my disappointment as I read this novel, but only because it changed my perceptions about what this novel was trying to accomplish.Don t expect fast pacing or a civil war Don t expect a return to Breq s heyday as a multiple body starship AI.Once I got over my desires to see him her rise and become the right hand man woman of his her leige wielding a large weapon, be it any kind of metaphorical sword, political engine, or at least an army of ancillaries, I started to relax into the tale that Ann Leckie was really telling.We have a tale about an AI s personal redemption This is still the same tale that was being told in the first novel, but now we ve got a very limited 3rd person perspective that doesn t allow us into Breq s thoughts, either All we have is the pursuit of social justice on a station he she once served a thousand years prior, the attempt to draw in his her ancillary s relatives into her heart as atonement, and, almost as a side note, the ostensible and official reason Breq had for going there in the first place You know trying to flush out his her leige s multiple personalty antagonist.The novel was slow Don t expect than a deepening of your understanding of Breq.One thing I am both pleased and angry that the jumps in time and location and viewpoint have been squeezed so small as to be a single character It makes for easier reading, sure, and hides a lot plot until the right time, but it was what made the other book fantastic, IMHO Do I want easy reading, or rewarding reading Answer Both I think that s what I liked most about the first novel The second wasn t nearly as rewarding except if you allow yourself to fall into an introspective contemplation about Breq I said I really liked the ending It was very satisfying, but it reminds me of a traditional novel with very little sci fi necessity In fact, the novel could have cut almost all of the sci fi aspects out and have a coherent and complete novel There was none of the special tension that science fiction is known for Speculation was missing Instead, we ve got a novel of social justice and personal redemption It was good, but not what I was expecting.I don t mean to be harsh in this review I liked the novel Even if it didn t follow the promise of big events laid down by the previous novel, it was good on its own Of course, we were given hints of a full blown revolution in the star system next door, and this kind of idea never really hit anyone over the head in this novel, but it does leave the door open to huge things later.I admit, I love the idea of Galaxy Wide AI s battling it out in a glorious bloodbath including all its fingers, the men and women of the ancillary We ll see.Update.This is also a contender for the 2015 Hugo for best novel.I m still reading the rest of the nominations, including the novel by Kloos that he respectfully rescinded because he didn t want to be associated with the puppygate pall I respect his decision, ethically, but I cannot accept it in my heart So therefore, I will continue to balance the scales before I cast my vote.Is Ms Leckie s novel good enough to be on the nomination Absolutely Do I honestly think it is the best of the ballot for this year We ll see There s an awful lot to appreciate about it, with or without my personal desires getting in the way The same thing goes for her previous novel which did win the Hugo last year, although I personally think that this one isn t up to quite the same glory.I m keeping my eyes wide open.Brad K Horner s Blog

Is a well-known author, some of his books are a fascination for readers like in the Ancillary Sword book, this is one of the most wanted Ann Leckie author readers around the world.

➷ [Reading] ➹ Ancillary Sword By Ann Leckie ➬ –
  • Paperback
  • 356 pages
  • Ancillary Sword
  • Ann Leckie
  • English
  • 26 June 2019
  • 9780316246651

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