Book Review: Ancillary Sword

After completing Ancillary Justice, I decided to go on to complete the trilogy this month.  The amazing first book in the trilogy demands completion of the series, and I’m excited to finally get around to it.

The Book

51ccvZCGFHL._SY346_Ancillary Sword
Author: Ann Leckie
Amazon Link

While deliciously written, Ancillary Sword doesn’t quite live up to the fantastic, near-perfection of Ancillary Justice.  I found some parts of the book to conflict with earlier information, and main character Breq has enough social, physical, and mental power to make all potential conflicts insignificant.  With such a massive Civil War ready to break out, Ancillary Sword felt incredibly slow and devoid of action.

Non-Spoiler Review

This book was ok throughout most of it.  It felt a little slow – especially in comparison to the fantastic Ancillary Justice – but there was a lot of good world building.  It talked a lot about the importance of tea, about the importance of dishes, antiques, colors, paint, and mourning rituals.

Which left me asking myself, “What?”  I wondered, for a good portion of the book, why I should concern myself with such niceties and social constructs when (spoiler for Ancillary Justice aheadthe first book ended with the outbreak of a massive civil war.  Ancillary Sword had very little to do with the new Civil War, and very little progressed with what I anticipated to be the overall plot.  While the stuff about tea and dishes was soothing to read about, it didn’t satisfy my itch to see what happens next.  I don’t feel like I gained anything by having read this book.  It felt like it could have been the episode of a TV show.

While I thought Breq, the main character, was a little bit of a Mary Sue in the first book, it was painfully obvious in this one.  Whereas her superhuman speed, strength, intellect, memory, and defensive capabilities were present in the first book, they didn’t matter very much.  She was facing odds so steep that it didn’t matter how strong she was and how much she knew.  In this book, there weren’t many problems that she couldn’t instantly solve.  I didn’t like that.

3/5 Discoball Snowcones

3 Discoball Snowcones


The book begins well enough, but it quickly became apparent that it was going to move slowly.  It took a long time reviewing what had happened in the first book, and it lamented the fate of semi-ancillaried Tisarwat for longer than I expected.  Tisarwat’s fate didn’t quite mesh with what I thought I’d learned from the first book, where a body becoming an ancillary seemed very final.

As well, there were plot holes concerning Breq’s powers.  Early in the book, she goes to the firing range and is better than anything human could possibly be.  In the climax, she misses her target because he ‘ducked at the last second,’ and this ended up destroying part of a space station.  The mistake, after a book filled with Breq’s perfection, felt so desperately out of place.

I wasn’t a big fan of the plot of this one.  It felt like a rehash of one of the (albeit good) parts of Ancillary Justice combined with a lot more social information, some of which was entirely unnecessary and almost all of which was pretty boring for me.  There were extended scenes about wanting sex for the sake of feeling better, and that would probably be interesting to some people, but I felt it didn’t add much to the story.

Next week:

To finish off the series, I’m going to read Ancillary Mercy and determine how all this ends!  There were some hints at the end of Ancillary Sword that this is going to be a crashing finish to what Justice started.  See you next week!

3 thoughts on “Book Review: Ancillary Sword

    • H.R.R. Gorman says:

      This book made more sense after reading the third book, but I think it suffered so badly from what I call “second book syndrome.” It didn’t do a great job as a standalone and was clearly just used to set up book 3.

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