Ancillary Justice is a funny book in some ways. For many years it appeared on both my recommended reading lists on Amazon and Kobo and for some reason it never reached out enough to make me reach out and grab a copy for myself.
Having recently finished a series of books and looking for another ‘Space Opera’ to invest in I decided to give the first book a try. It has a great pedigree, winning a Hugo Award, a Nebula Award, a BSFA Award and the Arthur C. Clarke Award, with such laudable accolades it can’t be too bad.
The first half of the book was surprisingly a hard slog. Leckie throws you directly into the narrative and the universe only explaining that universe drip by drip along the way. She employs an interesting style in which none of the characters are physically described and are all referred to as She, representing the gender politics existing in this future. This different tack proved challenging for me. I found it hard to identify with the characters, something that I began to realise perhaps spoke of my own unspoken prejudices and perceptions than the actual writing style, once I realised this the book opened out and I began to appreciate the more subtle nuances of the story.
The narrative as a whole focused on two main characters one of whom was, in essence, an avatar of a starship. Leckie has created a fascinating universe in which sentience and obedience are explored. Like many sci-fi futures, there is an exploration of the class system, the morals surrounding the divine right to rule and the abuse of power and technology.
The story really begins to motor in the second half and the last few chapters have a pace that makes it nearly ‘unputdownable’ and leaves you wanting more. This is definitely a series I will be following up which is lucky as two sequels follow and Leckie has written another book in the same universe.
This book is well worth the read if only for Leckie’s unique characterisations.