woensdag 29 juli 2015

Ann Leckie: Ancillary Justice


This review is about Ancillary Justice; Ann Leckie’s debut novel and the first novel in the Imperial Radch Trilogy. It won the Hugo Award, Nebula Award, BSFA Award, Arthur C. Clarke Award and Locus Award.
The novel has 384 pages and an interview of 8 pages. I ordered it from The Book Depository.

“The Radch are conquerors to be feared - resist and they'll turn you into a 'corpse soldier' - one of an army of dead prisoners animated by a warship's AI mind. Whole planets are conquered by their own people.
The colossal warship called The Justice of Toren has been destroyed - but one ship-possessed soldier has escaped the devastation. Used to controlling thousands of hands, thousands of mouths, The Justice now has only two hands, and one mouth with which to tell her tale.
But one fragile, human body might just be enough to take revenge against those who destroyed her.”

It might be because I’m completely new to Space Opera, but it took me a long time to fully understand what was going on. There are ships with artificial intelligence and ancillaries with multiple bodies all over space who all share one mind but (as we find out) not totally the same mind.
I’m not used to these kinds of elements or topics in a novel. This is probably why this was such a mixed read for me.

I’ll try to explain why.

Several things I liked and even loved about the novel.
Leckie uses different story threads and each one enhances our understanding of the situation and the characters themselves. It’s always clear where we are and with who. The story progresses slower (which I don’t mind) but our understanding of it deepens. And lastly, it enhances the characterization.
I liked the objective, almost detached voice of Breq. Though some might find this a sore point because it doesn’t make for a very engaging novel.
For Breq, who is from the Radch Empire, everything and everyone is female so she doesn’t use male pronouns in her language because they do not distinguish by gender. I did not find this confusing and it was a very different element in the novel. But it was a bit gimmicky and not that special. 

Leckie’s character development is great though. Breq especially undergoes tremendous changes. And the world building is great too!

There are however a few things I didn’t like about it too.
As I said before, I had a hard time getting into the novel because I couldn’t get my head around it. It’s easier (in my mind) to accept magic and dragons then AI spaceships with multiple bodies.
Seivarden doesn’t play a role that’s even important to the central plot. I liked him a lot, but he serves no real purpose. It feels as if Leckie only put him there to give us at least one sideline to the plot because it would be too straightforward otherwise.
I was rather disappointed by the simplicity of the plot. I could even say I was pretty bored through most of the novel.

I want to see how it all works out so I think I’ll read the next part in the Trilogy.

Happy reading!