Ancillary Justice and the Imperal Radch trilogy by Ann Leckie

I feel like I should write a review about the trilogy as a whole, but I think the first book is good enough to be stand alone. I also did not like the trilogy as a whole compared to the first book. I’ll do a short review of each.

Ancillary Justice

I’ve heard about this sci-fi novel for awhile. I generally do not read sci-fi. I am not against the genre. I grew up watching certain Star Trek shows and some sci-fi movies. I do read and watch a good number of fantasy related content. I just never got into reading sci-fi much. Some of it is because the genre was dominated by men and felt intended more for the male gaze. I know that has changed. There are more female sci-fi writers now and this novel is the only one that has won the Hugo, the Nebula, and the Arthur C Clarke.

I really enjoyed this novel. Like a lot of fantasy and sci-fi works, it was a bit disorienting the first few of chapters. It’s had two time periods and would switch between the two. I liked how well crafted the narrative and plotting was. I read that it took the author about seven years to write this novel. I did get the sense she put years into this novel.

These novels use a gender blind narrative wherein 95% of the pronouns used are “she/her”. I got use to this quickly. Interestingly, I think by using this device, the novels focus more on the class and political conflicts rather than one between gender.

The novel has some very interesting concepts about AI and consciousness. Like good sci-fi, it discusses what it means to be human. I liked the plot, pacing, and the character work as well..

The book itself is not overly descriptive about things or people. It’s harder to imagine the space ships and what some of the characters truly look like. I did get a sense of things. I also found Leckie used the word “angry” to describe characters reactions too much. Also maybe too much eyebrow descriptions.

I think if you are curious about the concepts in the book which include spaceships as people and diverse consciousness across bodies, this is a fun novel to checkout. I would not necessarily recommend the whole trilogy though.

Ancillary Sword

This book is my least favourite of the three. There is a lot less action in it and while there is a lot of character work, it’s the slowest of the three novels. It has a lot more politics in it and sometimes, it didn’t feel sci-fi enough. That’s fine except it deals more with colonialism and slavery more than say… spaceships. There were spaceships, but unlike the other two novels, this whole book is completely set one Planet and Station. It did not feel particularly alien or space oriented. It sets up a lot of the action in the last book though.

Ancillary Mercy

A nice conclusion to the series. There was a lot of character development in all three books and things paid off from the second book. There was also a lot more action in this than the previous book. I enjoyed that. The ending actually left me wanting more because I had so many questions about the future for some of the characters and this political system. It made me wonder more about what happens to the AI and spaceships. There’s a lot more material there to be explored.

I am glad the ending left me wanting more because I did not enjoy the second book. Having said that, the series as a whole is not recommended reading unless you really like the first book. I am glad I finished the trilogy though as I liked book 3 as well.

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