Ann Leckie followed up her multi award winning Ancillary Justice with the hugely disappointing Ancillary Sword. It continues the story directly on from the disappointing ending to the first novel with the same main character narrator Breq, the sole surviving ancillary (or zombie corpse soldier) of the ship Justice of Toren. Instead of exploring the civil war that is threatening the Radch empire (in what is now called the Imperial Radch series) it has Breq brought back into the promoted to a senior military position and going to the Athoek system as Fleet Commander, accompanied by Lieutenant Seivarden, the former officer from Justice of Toren who was rescued from suspended animation and is nearly as old as Breq. The story is not a military one, but more one of Breq acting as a representative of the militarized empire to bring justice to a planet with a troubled history.
The novel is one for the fans with a focus on answering some of the world questions raised by Ancillary Justice: if the Radch recognize no gender distinctions what about sex, what is the focus on tea on about, how does a space station AI compare to a ship AI, what exactly happened to Justice of Toren, and what is the political motivation for the civil war between different bodies of the multi bodied emperor Anaader Minaai?
The book description focuses on the mental trauma of Breq no longer controlling a thousand minds, but that is never explored, instead is given the ability to monitor her staff by her ship's AI.
Ancillary Justice had felt like Leckie ran out of steam before the denouement and the creative exhaustation continues in Ancillary Sword. In time, if Leckie continues the series beyond the original trilogy, the Imperial Radch might rival Iain M Banks' Culture Series for daring invention, but at present it comes across as a nice idea that was well implemented for most of the first novel and then drifted into more attention on world building than on telling a compelling story.
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