… but those times are long gone. That’s how one can sum up the unique nature of the main character of Ann Leckie’s Imperial Radch trilogy. Being rich in political plotting and focusing on the theme of colonizers and indigenous people, the series bears slight resemblance to Dune by Frank Herbert. Yet it has its own charm. Ancillary Mercy, the third book of the trilogy, is hitting shelves this October. The following are my impressions of Ancillary Justice and Ancillary Sword.
The Radchaai people were colonizing other planets for thousands of years. The newly “civilized” colonies were forced to adopt language, religion and social structure of houses with their complicated clientage system. The success of colonization partly depended on the wide use of spaceships equipped with ancillaries – dead human bodies connected to AI. Breq, the heroine of the novel, was once part of such a ship but now she is on her own carefully planned revenge quest.
The first book of the series, Ancillary Justice, didn’t look like a very solid piece to me until I reached the second half of it. But all those tiny interesting features of the Radch world and ancillary life kept me keen to read on. I’d rather you discover them all by yourself, but here’s a few mentioned in most reviews:
- in Radchaai language everybody is addressed as “she”
- tea is considered a symbol of civilization and Radchaai truly suffer when they can’t get it
- since any given ship has many ancillaries, they experience a sense of being at different places at the same time – and the author does a good job of describing this feeling
- the Breq’s ship, strange as it is, was collecting songs all her life and her ancillaries were in habit of singing them
The second book, Ancillary Sword, has considerably more characters and we get to know more about the peculiarities of ship crews, station life and space travel. I enjoyed following Breq as she was meeting various Radchaai and skillfully deceiving them or managing to unveil their secret plans, although she herself was no more than an ancillary, a creature whose life had never had any value. But now the well-being of Radchaai depends on her and she hasn’t given up her original goal.
Images are from http://www.annleckie.com