Book Review: Ancillary Justice

I read Ancillary Justice a while back, before I started doing blog book reviews, but didn’t have opportunity to read the sequels (library didn’t have them).  Because books are great gifts to request from friends and family members who may not be the most well off, I asked for the sequels for Christmas – and it paid off.

I re-read the first installation prior to writing this review.

The Book

51PR6d7nsbL._SY346_Ancillary Justice
Author: Ann Leckie
Amazon Link

Ancillary Justice is one of the most perfect books I can think of – one of those works that makes me want to put up the pen forever because I simply can’t improve on it.  From the incredibly inhuman main character to the rich, extremely well-explained Radch Empire, so much in Ancillary Justice is done right.  If you enjoy science-fiction, this book is absolutely a mind-blowing, awesome ride.

Non-Spoiler Review

There’s really not much that I can complain about with Ancillary Justice other than how it makes me personally feel bad for being so inadequate.  Leckie’s tale is set in an exquisitely well-developed universe, and she explains that universe with exctly the right amount of detail.  There’s never a concept that is confusing, yet I didn’t feel like she ever sat me down and pulled off an infodump.

The part of Ancillary Justice that is so unique and gets the most praise – both from me and from critics – is the main character.  A multi-bodied warship, Justice of Toren/One Esk/Breq has an inhuman quality that was done so well.  There are a couple of passages where, I admit, the occurrences around multiple bodies could get confusing, but those were few and easily understood when slightly more attention was paid.  Breq’s abilities were well matched to the situation, and the pacing was spot on.

The complaints?  Well, I have just one: there was a single chapter that ended with the line:

“And so I told her.”

If you read the book, let me know what you think about that line.  It pissed me off a lot, probably more than was reasonable.

5/5 Discoball Snowcones

5 Discoball Snowcones


There were three parts of the book.  Parts 1 and 2 were related simultaneously, though they occurred 19 years apart in time.  The ‘flashback,’ as I’ll call it, took place while Breq/Justice of Toren still had control over her ship body and multiple ancillary units – or human bodies controlled by her computer – and was both intriguing and unique.  It related how Breq came to be trapped in a single human body, how that body is single-mindedly set on vengeance, and why the Radch is broken.  I loved it.

Part 2, which was about how Breq came into possession of an invisible gun, was what I thought to be the weakest part of the book.  It was kind of boring, and nothing really happened.  I wasn’t sure it was even necessary at times.  Without the simultaneous telling of Part 1, Part 2 would have potentially been unreadable.  As it was, Part 2 did add to the atmosphere and sufficiently summarized the time between Part 1 and Part 3.

Part 3, which happened after Part 1 and Part 2 converged, was about how Breq took the invisible gun and used it to kill as many bodies of the hive-mind emporer Anaander Mianaai as possible. There were some timing elements – such as when the emporer used song programming to stop Breq from killing her – that I felt were off, but Part 3 was exciting and came to an excellent head.  Breq’s single-minded pursuit of her goal was amazing to read, and I could do Part 3 over and over again without complaint.

Overall, the book is simply fantastic.  Would recommend to anyone.

Next week:

In my pursuit of completing more series this year, I’ll be reading the next book in the Imperial Radch trilogy – Ancillary Sword!  Hope to see you around next week for that!

10 thoughts on “Book Review: Ancillary Justice

  1. D. Wallace Peach says:

    Sounds like a great read (I read the non-spoiler in case I pick it up). The cover is awful, but hey, a Hugo and Nebula Award is a Hugo and Nebula Award. Thanks for the recommendation!

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