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url 2016-03-24 03:46
Ancillary Justice in French (plus a little about the German translation)

Translation choices are fascinating.


Which reminds me, one more book and I lose the ability to compare Eugene Woodbury's Twelve Kingdoms fan translations to licensed translations. Sad...

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review 2015-10-31 22:17
Ancillary Mercy (audiobook) by Ann Leckie, narrated by Adjoa Andoh
Ancillary Mercy - Adjoa Andoh,Ann Leckie

I enjoyed Adjoa Andoh's narration of Ancillary Sword enough to want to listen to her narration of Ancillary Mercy, and I loved Ancillary Mercy when I read the paperback version a short while ago. There isn't much I can write about the story that I either didn't already say in my review of the paperback version or don't want to write for fear of spoilers, so I'll stick to writing primarily about Andoh's narration.

Like Ancillary Sword, I feel that, if you have no preference for one format or another, it would be best to read Ancillary Mercy in print before listening to it in audiobook format. Although I loved most of Andoh's voices, I continued to dislike her Translator voices, and a particular Translator character is included in a large portion of this book. While I didn't love that character in the paper version of the book, I also didn't really mind her. In the audio version, she grated on my nerves somewhat. To be fair, Andoh's voice had the opposite effect as far as the Ghost Gate ship was concerned – I think I came to like her more in the audiobook than I did in the paper version.

As usual, there were a few songs that clearly weren't meant to be sung aloud, which made listening to them a bit painful. However, I did think that the “peep peep peep” song reached new heights of hilarity in the audiobook. I wonder, did Andoh really mean for it to sound that intense? Between that and Anaander Mianaai's tantrums, poor Andoh's voice really got a workout this time around.

There was one bit in the narration that was either a mistake or a choice on Andoh's part that I didn't agree with. At the beginning of the book, Mercy of Kalr spoke through Seivarden, and Andoh used Seivarden's voice to say those lines. Later in the book, Mercy of Kalr spoke through Seivarden, but Andoh opted to use Mercy of Kalr's voice. The inconsistency bugged me.

I'm sure I'll be listening to this again, but I prefer my paperback copy, if only because it's so easy to flip straight to my favorite parts. I tried to remember to bookmark my favorite parts as I listened, but it's not quite the same.


Rating Note:


I gave the paper version of this 5 stars. I disliked the Translator's voice enough that I considered rating the audiobook a whole star less, but then settled for 4.5 stars instead because getting to hear the Ghost Gate ship's sarcastic tone did make up for the Translator somewhat.


(Original review posted on A Library Girl's Familiar Diversions.)

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review 2015-10-17 20:31
Ancillary Mercy by Ann Leckie
Ancillary Mercy - Ann Leckie

This is not a trilogy you can read out of order – if you haven't read the first two books, I highly recommend you do so before reading Ancillary Mercy. And if you're not a fan of the pacing in those books, you probably won't be a fan of it in this one. Also, a note: I've found that I need to reread these books in order to catch everything going on. I haven't reread Ancillary Mercy yet, although I definitely plan to. I'm just so far behind on my review writing right now that I decided I wasn't going to wait to write this one too.

Ancillary Mercy begins not long after the events in Ancillary Sword. For some perspective: Queter hasn't been interrogated yet. The part of Anaander Mianaai that is angry at Breq has taken Tstur Palace and has almost certainly sent a portion of herself after Breq. Meanwhile, someone who may be an agent of that part of Anaander Mianaai is interfering with the efforts to repair the Undergarden and allow the Ychana who lived there to go back to their homes.

It's tough to know what to say that wouldn't count as a spoiler. However, I feel I should also mention that readers finally get to meet the ship from beyond the Ghost Gate, a Presger Translator makes an appearance, and there is “AI stuff” and “messy relationship stuff” (“romance” isn't really the right word) galore.

When I first started this trilogy, I was a little disappointed that there wasn't as much AI stuff as I would have liked. Yes, Breq was an AI, but she spent a good chunk of Ancillary Justice pretending to be a human. The bits with her as a ship were nice, but also incredibly painful to read because it was clear that everything was going to go horribly wrong, would have to go horribly wrong for Breq to be single-bodied and alone 20 years later. Ancillary Sword did a better job of scratching my AI itch, giving me Mercy of Kalr, Athoek Station, Breq, and Sword of Atagaris. The variety of AI characters was very nice, even though I didn't necessarily like them all (Sword of Atagaris, I'm looking at you).

Ancillary Mercy was even better in that regard, and not just because it added a new AI character. The previous books has made it clear that the AIs were essentially slaves of the Radch. In order to secure her position, Anaander Mianaai kept control over the AIs by learning who they each loved the most, so that she could use that information against them if necessary. She also had access codes that could allow her to force any AI to do as she ordered, even if those orders threatened the lives of the AI's crew/residents and the particular people it loved the most. In this book, Breq did something about that.

I won't go into much detail about how she accomplished it, because even this much feels more spoilery that I'd like, but the results made me hope that Leckie plans to write lots of other books and stories set in this world. Considering the nature of Anaander Mianaai's existence, I was skeptical that Leckie could satisfactorily deal with that aspect in only three books. Impressively, she managed it, for the most part.

The Lord of the Radch wasn't completely defeated by the end of the book. There were still lots of things that needed to happen, and things that could go wrong (the Presger could throw an enormous wrench in the whole thing, if they wanted), but I could easily imagine Anaander being powerless in a few years or decades, however long it took for the events in Athoek System to trickle through to the rest of the Radch. If there was one thing that disappointed me about this book, it was that this aspect of the trilogy ended much more...quietly...than I had expected. The closest things Ancillary Mercy had to big space battles were Anaander's disastrous arrival at Athoek Station (not so much a battle as a horrified “oops”) and Breq's efforts to destroy as much of Anaander's incoming fleet as possible. I'm not really that disappointed, though, because an enormous and dramatic battle would probably have felt out-of-character for this trilogy.

I've saved the best for last: the relationship stuff. This was so tremendously perfect that I could write pages and pages about it. However, that would involve great gobs of spoilers. So I'll just say this. I shipped Breq and Seivarden in Books 1 and 2 but was also afraid of what might happen if Leckie turned it into a sexual relationship. I read fan theories that seemed plausible but that would probably have depressed me if they had become canon. I desperately wanted the relationship aspects of this trilogy to be resolved in a satisfactory way, but I was also very nervous that everything would go horribly wrong. It didn't. It was wonderful in ways I hadn't expected and hadn't realized I wanted. Unfortunately, now I want more, and I have no idea where I'm supposed to get it. I hope Leckie revisits these characters at some point, although I think I'd also enjoy seeing how Breq's matchmaking efforts with Sphene and [redacted] turn out.

I really wish I had read Books 1 and 2 closer to Ancillary Mercy's release date, because the wait was excruciating. However, it was worth it. I loved this book and the trilogy as a whole, and I hope that Leckie has lots more planned for this world.


Rating Note:


I was tempted to give this 4.5 stars rather than 5, because of my mixed feelings about the Anaander Mianaai aspect, but there were so many other things that I absolutely loved that it didn't seem right. So, 5 stars it is.


(Original review posted on A Library Girl's Familiar Diversions.)

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url 2015-09-30 20:47
Ships of the Imperial Radch Trilogy infographic

I like that there are ship silhouettes, although I have issues with this infographic. 1) Are those ship silhouettes drawn to scale? 2) What about all the ancillaries that would have been in storage? and 3) Really? That's it? I'm greedy, I want a meatier infographic.


You know how I said I was going to have to exercise some self-control and save book 3 for after my conference presentation? I'm not sure I have that kind of willpower. This is why I rarely keep up with series anymore. I hate waiting for next volumes.

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review 2015-08-29 21:55
Ancillary Sword by Ann Leckie
Ancillary Sword - Ann Leckie

I've basically been wallowing in Ann Leckie's books, especially this one, since July. I finished Ancillary Sword in a day, giving myself a whopper of a headache, but I haven't been able to review it because nothing I wrote seemed adequate. I decided to do a more leisurely reread, and then I signed up for Audible so I could listen to the audiobook. However, I need to finally get this review off my To Do list, so I'm giving it another go.

Ancillary Sword picks up where Ancillary Justice left off. Breq has grudgingly accepted Anaander Mianaai's offer of a ship, Mercy of Kalr, the rank of Fleet Captain, and even the name “Mianaai” and the advantages that come with it. Her goal is to travel to Athoek Station and find Basnaaiad, Awn's sister. Breq knows she could never make amends for killing Awn, but she'd at least like to make sure Basnaaiad is as safe and comfortable as possible. Keeping the Athoek system safe from Anaander Mianaai (it doesn't matter which one) is one way to do that.

Breq starts by doing what Awn would have done, finding the most marginalized people on the station and living among them. As a result, she becomes intimately involved in the tensions and conflicts between the Radchaai and the various ethnic groups that, 200 years after the area's annexation, should be doing better and be more smoothly integrated into Radchaai society than they are.

This is one of those books I appreciated even more after a reread. During my first reading of Ancillary Sword, I felt that it wasn't quite as good as Ancillary Justice. I adored the character interactions, but the story felt less focused. The second time around, I realized that Breq was modeling Awn's behavior in Ors, and I also had a better appreciation for what she was trying to accomplish.

That said, in each of my readings I felt the mourning portion was the weakest. Just as Breq was starting to accomplish things on the station, she was put in a position where she was physically removed from all of that and could only watch. I also felt that the social justice aspects of the book became a bit too obvious during this part.

Overall, though, Ancillary Sword has turned out to be a more perfect book for me than Ancillary Justice, in large part because of the character interactions. I can't say this book read like it was written for me, because if that were the case, it would have consisted of nothing but Breq interacting with her crew and Mercy of Kalr, Mercy of Kalr taking care of everybody, Kalr Five taking pride in her beautiful dishes, Lieutenant Tisarwat struggling with her emotions, and Seivarden trying to be a better person for Breq. And there would have been more hugging. But I loved what I got, enough that I've been reluctant to leave this book behind and move on to something else. This is my literary equivalent of a warm, fuzzy blanket.

I can't wait for Ancillary Mercy to come out, even as I worry that it won't live up to my expectations. I know this is supposed to be a trilogy, but I sincerely hope that Leckie decides to write more about these characters in the future. I love them a lot, and I'll be sad when it's all over.

Additional Comments:

It's immature of me, but the penis festival amused me during each of my readings. I can't help but wonder if it was a sly reference to the reaction to the books' usage of feminine pronouns. “Ancillary Justice wants to take all our penises away, so we'll all show up and make our penises as obvious as possible!”


(Original review, with read-alikes, posted on A Library Girl's Familiar Diversions.)

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