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review 2017-09-03 02:41
Ancillary Sword
Ancillary Sword - Ann Leckie

On the one hand, Ancillary Sword is a nicely constructed small-scale SF novel focusing on injustices on a single space station and the associated planet. On the other hand, the small scale is a let-down after the sweeping scope of the first volume in this series. While characters in Ancillary Sword spend plenty of time alluding to the wider struggle established in Ancillary Justice, it seems distant and almost as if the events of this book won’t have a bearing on eventual outcomes.

 

The dominant Radchaai culture minimizes gender differentiation and defaults to female pronouns. In Ancillary Justice, perhaps because the book starts outside the Radch, the main character Breq spends a lot of time trying to decipher and assign gender.  Consequently, I spent much of Ancillary Justice, searching for clues such as broad shoulders or voice timbre that indicated the gender of the characters. I found many fewer clues to the gender of the characters in Ancillary Sword, perhaps because the events occur within the Radch and many more of the characters are speaking Radchaai. But I also found myself not worrying as much that I might have been mistakenly picturing people wrong.

 

When my husband read this series, he ended up re-starting each volume immediately after he finished his first read.  I’ve also found that I need to read each book twice before even attempting to review it, though I took a short break between the 1st gulp and the reread.

 

I'm being torn about a star rating, I think Ancillary Justice, which I initially rated 4 stars, is about half a star better than Ancillary Sword, but at the same time 3.5 stars feels low.  I’m looking forward to the last book in the trilogy, though I’m already feeling the tension between just diving right in and the pull of Halloween Bingo.

 

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text 2017-08-14 17:20
My life in books
Headlong Flight - Dayton Ward
Rewinder - Brett Battles
Ancillary Justice - Ann Leckie
Night Comes Early - Burt Gabot
Superman Unchained - Scott Snyder

Reading has been my past time in a long time. Growing up in the province my access to reading materials when I was a kid is very limited but I was contented with reading the short stories in my English and Filipino textbooks. In high school, I now have access to fiction books from the school library. Most of the books in the library are the classics and literary novels. These were required reading and we have to make book reports so reading them became a chore and not enjoyable. Until I found out about the Choose Your Own Adventure Books. I pretty much enjoyed those books. In college I may have forgotten reading for pleasure. Even if I had time to read, the college library does not carry fiction novels. The only time I enjoyed reading is from reading the comics collection of a friend. I remember reading issues of X-Men, X-Factor, Superman, and D.P. 7.

 

My interest in reading returned when I chanced upon a battered book when I already started working. It does not have a cover and the story is set on a world where technology is based on organic materials and not on metals. The story intrigued me and I kept on reading the book during my down time. Too bad I can’t remember the title of the story or who wrote it. This book showed me that my genre of choice is science fiction (or speculative fiction in general).

 

Since I am already working (meaning I have the means) and staying in the city (meaning I have the access), I can now buy my own reading materials. The bookstore is like a candy store! Too many books to choose from. The bookstore also introduced me to Star Trek original novels and media tie-in books in general. This is also the time that I started buying comic books, mostly from the X-Men line. And then I discovered used books stores. The books are dirt cheap. Then I started hording. I also branched to magazines by this point.

 

It came to a point that I acquire 5 but only finishing 2 then acquiring a new batch again. I realized that this a problem when I moved apartments more than 3 times now. I now have a book buying ban: buy one paperback book at most in a month. I am now shifting to electronic books and digital comics. Also a recent development, listening to audio books. I am pretty much becoming format agnostic as long as I like the story. In the next few months, I will try to unload my paperback books. (Cue Elsa, “let it go, let it go...”)

 

I have a bad habit of starting a book but not finishing it or reading multiple books at a time. Also when I read a book, I pretty much jump to another book immediately. I do not give myself enough time to reflect on the book I read. When someone asks me how I see the book, all I can say is “I liked it” or “not liked it” with no further elaboration. I would like to change that. Well, I tried it before but the only word that can describes my attempt to write reviews is “terse”. Most actually fits as a tweet.

 

How should I do it? I asked myself. I need a structure. So I made one that I hope I can follow (I might also use these guide questions as section headings).

1. Why did you pick this up?
2. What is it?
3. What is it all about? (for non-fiction)/What happened? (for fiction)
4. Did you liked it?
5. Would you recommend it?

There you go, a book review for at least 5 sentences!

 

I will also do a status update on the first 10% placing my initial impression of the book. And on the 20% mark or after 50 pages (whichever comes first), I will evaluate if I need to proceed reading. If I will DNF the book (short for did-not-finish), I will post a status update as to why and if I there is chance that I might revisit the book in the near future.

 

I now have a plan for this book blog. I hope I can stick with it. Crossing fingers.

 

 

Wow, I write more than 700 words this time! Nice!

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text 2017-04-14 02:47
I want it
Provenance - Ann Leckie

While I'm sad that it's not a sequel to the Imperial Radch trilogy (it's set in the same universe, but that's it), I still want it. A little more than 5 months to go...

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review 2017-02-01 11:46
"Ancillary Sword -Imperial Radch #2" by Ann Leckie
Ancillary Sword - Ann Leckie,Adjoa Andoh

Breq, an Ancillary, is the last remnant of the Artificial Intelligence that was once "Justice of Toren", a star ship built for conquest, with direct control of thousands of conquered human who have been mind-wiped and turned into "Ancillaries".

 

In the first book of the series "Ancillary Justice" we followed Breq's multi-planet quest for justice, or at least vengence, on the Lord of the Radch who used her to do a terrible thing and then betrayed and destroyed her. It was space opera on a grand scale, with astonishing universe-building that was still mainly about showing how Breq's experiences as a lone, much less powerful, entity shaped her, revealing her honesty and her compassion while honing her anger at everything the Lord of the Radch stood for.

 

"Ancillary Sword" continues straight on from "Ancillary Justice" but represents a complete change of pace. The Lord of the Radch, who occupies multiple bodies simultaneously across the Empire, is at war with herself. Part of her wants to use Breq as a weapon against the other part and so grants her her House name, accords her the rank of Fleet Captain, gives her command of a Ship, "Mercy of Kalr", staffed with human crew who choose to behave as if they were Ancillaries, and sends her to  "Athoek Station", above a planet that produces the best tea in the Empire.

 

Breq's accepts the mission only because she wants to make amends to the sister of one her own officers on the "Justice of Toren". She arrives at the station and finds it to be a microcosm of The Radch where corruption and exploitation has been allowed to flourish to the edge of introducing slavery.

 

What follows is almost an inversion of scale from "Ancillary Justice".The focus is no longer on galaxy-spanning hi-tech warfare but on the rituals and civilities that provide the basis for people living together in a peace and on the persistent ability of the privileged to see themselves as the embodiment of culture and civilization while imposing a regime of brutal repression on those they see as inferior.

 

At first, I found the change in pace disorienting. I kept waiting for a Battle Fleet to arrive. Then I realised that this was really about Breq starting to decide how to relate to the human world. None of the people on the planet or the Station know that Breq is not human, so she builds relationships with them start with her House Name and her rank and grow based on the actions she takes to make the world around her more just.

 

Breq's relationship with her crew, humans who choose to try to appear as emotionless as the mind-wiped ancillaries, grows as Mercy of Kalr, who knows what Breq is, allows her to see monitor them as she would have her own officers when she was Juster of Toren. Her straighforwardness, her honesty and her refusal to bow to power when it is in the wrong, win the crew's trust and loyalty despite all of Breq's peculiarities.

 

Breq's relationship with the poor and the privileged and her reactions to the injustices she finds are all part of building her personal vision of how the world should if it were not ruled by The Lord of the Radch.

 

This is a book driven by the character of the actors. It takes a hard look at what it means to be a person, how power should be used and what justice means.

 

Of course, in the end, things get blown up and there is action on a spectacular scale but what lingers with me from this book is the power of a tea ceremony to turn what might be bloody conflct into a controlled struggle for power.

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review 2016-12-28 17:12
Ancillary Mercy - Ann Leckie
Ancillary Mercy - Ann Leckie

Ancillary Mercy is the third in Leckie's Imperial Radch trilogy following the quest of Breq, who used to be the AI of the warship Justice of Toren and has now been reduced to a single body, to inconvenience Anaander Mianaai, the tyrannical ruler of the Radch, whose multiple bodies have turned against each other and split the Radch empire up into chaos.

 

Perhaps I just wasn't concentrating very hard, but Ancillary Mercy felt kind of...shapeless? It's centred on the fact that Anaander, the part of her hostile to Breq, has entered the Athoek system, where Breq's new ship, Mercy of Kalr, is stationed, and is vaguely threatening both the planet of Athoek and, more urgently, the station in orbit around it. Meanwhile, on the station itself, some of the richer residents of Athoek station are stalling the refit of an area that was flooded during the second book, which was inhabited mainly by Ychana, an ethnic minority seen as undesirable; and the dangerous alien Presger have sent a translator to Athoek to find out what happened to their last one.

 

There's a lot of politics, as there was in the second book, and the varying strands of the novel - the racism of Athoek station's upper class, the threat from Anaander Mianaai, the interference of the Presger - all tie up nicely in its conclusion. It's a book about various kinds of oppression - oppression which hardly ever stems from actual bad faith but from carelessness and thoughtlessness and a blindness to the way things are. In particular, the discussion about AI rights, which has been bubbling under for the first two books, surfaces properly (and satisfyingly) here.

 

For a book about someone who used to be a hive mind, it's also very singular. By which I mean that it takes place almost entirely in a single system, focusing solely on Athoek's concerns; Breq, in fact, firmly rejects offers of help from captains stationed in nearby systems. It focuses on making just this one corner of the empire a bit safer, a bit more just; no promises are made for the rest of it, there are no universe-saving grand political gestures. It's realistic about the political reach of Breq and her crew.

 

Stylistically, and this I think is why my mind finds it hard to remember specifics about it, it's quite oblique: as in, its characters will discuss something without being specific, and I think we as readers are supposed to pick up what theyre talking about. Which means you sort of have to work at reading it, to go back and pay attention to inflection and implication - just as its characters do, I suppose, in their various political maneouverings.

 

I liked it, as much as I liked the previous books, but I don't think I was quite in the right mood for it. I think there's a lot of interesting stuff going on here; it just hasn't made that much of an impression on me.

 

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